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csd72 (Structural) (OP)
11 Jul 07 11:41
As engineers we are educated in physics and chemistry and should have a reasonable idea on what really effects the energy consumption that causes climate change. I am looking for peoples opinions on what suggestions have been good ideas to reduce your individual impact. Alternatively what suggestions have you heard that are utter nonsense.

It would be good to hear comments from engineers on this matter.
Helpful Member!  KENAT (Mechanical)
11 Jul 07 12:43
Wow, you're a brave person to assume that everyone on this site will agree that energy consumption causes climate change.  (I assume you primarily mean burning fossil fuels or do you mean a more widespread entropy based line of thinking?)  

As for individual impact, re-using items where possible, e.g. get a re-usable water bottle instead of bottled water; canvas bags instead of disposable ones etc.  If you can’t re-use try and recycle.

In the home, making sure it’s well thermally insulated.  Use energy efficient bulbs and use them as little as possible.  If you’re in a hot part of the world look at external shade, shade on ‘sun-side’ windows, ceiling fan etc.  Minimize the amount of electronic goods you have that are ‘always on’.  Get efficient appliances, always do a full load of laundry, minimize use of tumble dryer, look at on demand water heating, under floor heating…

Don’t fly.  Minimize ‘powered travel’, walk or bike instead.  If you must travel use mass transit/public transport if possible.  If you must travel individually use the most efficient vehicle possible (scooter, Motorbike, small car/hybrid…); try to avoid congestion; keep to optimal speed etc.

I’m not sure this is what you were looking for, and lets be honest how many of us are going to go the whole hog on some of these?

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

Helpful Member!(3)  csd72 (Structural) (OP)
11 Jul 07 13:08
Good post kenat,

Yes thats the sort of things I am looking for.

I love the point about shade. Traditional australian colonial buildings have the roof extended out about 10' on all sides this creates the shade that you talk about and keeps the building remarkably cool even when it is 110F.

I also hear peoples airconditioners working at 8:00 at night even when it is cool outside just because they have not bothered to open the windows and let the hot air out of the house.

I believe in the RE's


It is too easy to throw things away.

kontiki99 (Electrical)
11 Jul 07 13:30
Disgusted over the disappearance of decent men’s barber shops I recent decided to just shave the stuff off.

I really like it too.

One economic impact is that warm rooms are much more comfortable. I've bee wearing a sweater in the office to keep comfortable in the AC.

My apartment summer electric bill is down 30% too.

Of course I'll need to grow it back this winter to cut heating costs.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
11 Jul 07 14:59

Thats another example. I find it crazy that places aircondition down to a temperature that makes most people feel cold.

sms (Mechanical)
11 Jul 07 16:11
Stop drinking imported bottled water. C'mon, it is water. Why are we wasting oil to make plastic bottles so that French water can be shipped (via cargo vessel running on diesel) to America, or even Arkansas spring water to Houston via diesel powered truck. Drink your local water! It is water, not wine. The only place imported water makes sense is if the local water is contaminated (rural Mexico for instance).

Shipping water around in plastic bottles is just the definition of crazy..

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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KENAT (Mechanical)
11 Jul 07 16:40
sms, in principle I agree however you've clearly never tasted the local water where I live, it's revolting.

I always used to drink tap water however the last few places I've lived it tasted awful.

I suppose getting a filter might be an option, but otherwise that's why I now drink bottled water.  At work I refil one bottle from the cooler, although I suppose this is still bottled water, hmm.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

Helpful Member!(6)  zdas04 (Mechanical)
11 Jul 07 17:52
First, let me say that I honestly believe that if the global temperature is increasing, it is not because of man.  The links from "greenhouse gasses" back to burning fossil fuels are simply absurd.

On the other hand it is never a good economic idea to waste anything.  I try to make smart choices at home (swamp cooler instead of air-conditioner, filtered water instead of bottled water, etc.) but altogether they are peanuts.

I'm an engineer.  I design stuff.  The stuff I design is always trying to milk every erg of energy from the input fuel.  Picking a smaller rotor higher speed screw compressor saves 5-10% of a very large fuel tab.  Reducing pressure drop in a pipeline can save hundreds of hp in not having to boost pressure back up to recover as much friction loss.  Remove or avoid pneumatic control devices that continually vent.  Any of these will save hundreds or thousands of times as much energy as you will expend over the entire life of the worst gas guzzler.

All of these are things that engineers need to be thinking of all the time.  Conservation of energy, and conservation of stuff can be very nice adders to the plus side of the economics of a project.  If you walk to work you are postponing the time that you can start really saving energy.

Helpful Member!(4)  electricpete (Electrical)
11 Jul 07 22:45


The links from "greenhouse gasses" back to burning fossil fuels are simply absurd....
You are saying that the increase in 25% increase in atmospheric CO2 since the industrial revolution, increasing at a higher rate than ever observed during previous 600,000 years was not caused by burning fossil fuels?  Just a coincidence?

Interesting theory.  I guess I can see how that kind of logic leads to your conclusion about climate change.

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Helpful Member!  mls1 (Electrical)
11 Jul 07 23:06
" . . .increasing at a higher rate than ever observed during previous 600,000 years" - who exactly was observing it 600,000 years ago?
electricpete (Electrical)
12 Jul 07 0:04
The ice cores provide a record.  I don't think those facts are in dispute. Unless you don't believe in science.

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zdas04 (Mechanical)
12 Jul 07 0:24
Please, Oh wise one, what are the constituent percentages of the various greenhouse gases in the atmosphere?  And of the fraction that is CO2 what percentage is anthroprogenic?  And in a greenhouse there is a temperature gradient with the lion's share of the increase towards the top, is that gradient in any way reflected in the global atmosphere?  Why do the ice-core swings in CO2 actually lag the temperature record by several hundred years?

electricpete (Electrical)
12 Jul 07 0:41
I did not react to your statement about temperature (although obviously I disagree).

I addressed your statement about the link between fossil fuel burning and increase in greenhouse gases (which includes CO2).  As I understood it, you think it's absurd to conclude that fossil fuel burning has anything to do with the observed increase in atmospheric CO2?  

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mls1 (Electrical)
12 Jul 07 0:50
Believe?  Irrelevant.  Science is about evidence, not belief, and the evidence supporting ice core samples is weak at best.  The inconsistent results between samples from the same period but analyzed by different scientists speak for themselves.  

That's not to say that I don't agree with the previous sentiments regarding energy conservation.  We all benefit from energy conservation, global warming or not.
zdas04 (Mechanical)
12 Jul 07 7:16
I don't understand your outrage.  Your statement that


Interesting theory.  I guess I can see how that kind of logic leads to your conclusion about climate change.
was provocative and I'm only trying to find out where the flaw in my logic might lie.

My key point remains that as engineers we can and should take major steps towards maximizing energy effectiveness every day and these steps will have orders of magnitude more positive impact on the planet than all the cosmetic consumer stuff put together regardless of whether man has any significant contribution to global climate change or not.  If I can reduce the energy demand 5% on a 1,000 hp compressor then I'll save over $20k/year--it'll take a bunch of reused canvass bags to equal that modest savings.

The thread is about techniques to conserve.  We've all heard about the "re's" of consumer energy efficiency and I was hoping to trigger a discussion of the much larger impact of industrial energy efficiency.

epoisses (Chemical)
12 Jul 07 8:21
"Educated opinion" is a contradictio in terminis!

Educated = facts, opinion <> facts, so educated <> opinion

An opinion is a cheaper substitute for a pile of data.

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
12 Jul 07 8:30
Electric pete, David,

Chill out (is there a HVAC engineer that can help them with this!).

David does make a very valid point, the data that I have seen shows a significant difference in the CO2 and the temperature rise with the rise in CO2 actually following the  temperature rise.

I would also add that there is an economic theory that basically says: "just because FactorB follows factor A does not necessarily mean that factor A caused factor B, it could be the other way around, or they both could be symptoms of another hidden cause."

I believe in global warming, but I also agree that the facts are not actually that conclusive.

BrunoPuntzJones (Materials)
12 Jul 07 10:47
We've had plenty of these global warming argument threads already, lets not start another.

Back to the OP (I wrote a longer post, but managed to lose it, so this iis the condensed verison as it's just to annoying to retype the whole thing).

Things to do to lesen you own impact

As discussed above.  Additionaly, double pane windows are a no brainer.  Low emissivty windows are a huge help as well (in most cases).

Eat more locally produced food to cut down on food miles.  Educate yourself on what you eat and where it comes from.  Shop at farmer's markets, join a CSA (farm-share), and avoid heavily processed foods.
KENAT (Mechanical)
12 Jul 07 11:30
I'm impressed, about 8 posts before it broke down to a debate on whether there's link between fossil fuel use and global warming/if global warming exists.

On the double glazing/low emissive windows I was including this as thermally insulating the house.

Good point on the food.  Looking at it I guess if you cut down on 'non essential' food and plant consumption that may help without requiring major life style changes.  Since the raw material for things like chocolate, tea, coffee etc are usually grown far from where they are consumed I suppose you could cut your emissions just by using less of these, without having to worry if the spud you’re about to eat is local or  

Plus of course some of these raw materials are grown in areas that may otherwise be rain forests etc which could be seen as helping.  (Although given that a mature forest with the decomposition taken into account probably isn’t as much of a carbon sink as some would like to think, maybe that isn’t a major factor)

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

Helpful Member!  SomptingGuy (Automotive)
12 Jul 07 11:54
Walk your kids to school!

I can't speak for the rest of the world, but in the UKOGBANI our kids go to the local (state) primary school by default until age 11.  People actually move house so their local school is the one they want.  So by definition, they are within walking distance.  I get held up on my daily cycle to work by parents driving their kids half a mile to school.  And I'd bet money that if they didn't do the two half-mile drives a day their exhausts wouldn't rust through and need annual replacemnt.  Worse, I'm starting to see more and more BIG vehicles with a single kid as passenger these days.
sms (Mechanical)
12 Jul 07 15:24
Nuclear power anyone? It works for Pete!! Energy density in uranium is a bit higher than coal, not so much fuel involved in moveing fuel around as with coal, or even natural gas.

Might put Dave out of business though as moving gas is his business.

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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zdas04 (Mechanical)
12 Jul 07 15:32
I started out in Nuclear Power, I guess I could go back if I had to.  Seriously, the energy density of Uranium is greater than coal by some number approaching the square of the speed of light.  The ship I was on went something like 1/2 million miles on a new reactor core--the same distance would require many millions of tons of coal.  A phenomenal savings in the cost of fuel-transport.

mls1 (Electrical)
12 Jul 07 15:58
I'm a Navy nuke retread myself.  Amazing how much energy we got out of a single core.  

I've got a buddy who owns a company that installs pneumatic controlled bladders in home ventilation ducts for room by room temperature control.  It pays for itself, especially in the bigger houses.  I don't have a system in my home but I close the vent ducts in rooms that aren't used.  That saves a bit.

Solar hot-water preheaters should be standard in all new houses.  Other than the asthetics why aren't they more prevalant?
BrunoPuntzJones (Materials)
12 Jul 07 16:27

I think the only reason solar water heaters aren't more popular is poor marketing.  If people really understood the system, understood how easy it is to install, and understood how short the payback time is (2-3 years), I think everyone would get one.

PV is reaching a tipping point as well.  Some issues aside, there are several companies making real strides in cutting down production costs.  
KENAT (Mechanical)
12 Jul 07 16:38
Re-reading the OP, I don't see nuclear directly helping to reduce individual impacesmile

Good point on the solar water heating, I live in the desert and can't believe more people don't have it.  I rent or I'd look at installing it.

As to utter nonsense, Myth Busters had a good one last night on some of the internet schemes to increase vehicle mileage - they were all, surprisingly, bunk.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

electricpete (Electrical)
12 Jul 07 20:42
mls1... I read your comments and apparently you also think it is absurd to claim any link between fossil fuels and the observed increase in CO2?

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Ashereng (Petroleum)
12 Jul 07 22:36
What can I do personally to reduce energy consumption? Well, as a start:

1) drink tap water
2) buy a water bottle and fill it up before I go out
3) when the cashier starts to put the socks I just purchased into a bag (any bag), I just say "Thanks, I'm good." and proceed to stuff them into my coat pocket.
4) use credit card instead of "real money" (if we can reduce the total amount of money they have to print, maybe I can even reduce my taxes?  Or not.)
5) turn off the lights when I leave the room (see mom, I was listening)
6) turn off the TV when I go to bed (see mom, two things)
7) water the grass/lawn at 5 AM
8) I just got a whole bunch of the florescent "green" replacement bulbs (the packaging says I am saving about 40 W a bulb)
9) reuse grocery bags
10) plant a new tree from seedling in the front yard (by hand). Not sure if this reduces consumption, but you just added a new CO2 converter.
11) traded in the old Jeep Cherokee for a new Toyota Highlander Hybrid (about the same size with better gas mileage anyways)

There are lots of "smarter" things you can do, without really sacrificing anything ... and you don't really have to change much either.

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater."   
Albert Einstein
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sms (Mechanical)
12 Jul 07 22:51
Sorry, I forgot the individual impact. Got caught up in Dave's very good point about how what we do at work is orders of magnitude above what we do as individuals.

Dave, I was being a bit sarcastic about the energy density. Sarcasm often doesn't work well in print. BTW I also started my career in nuclear power.

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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electricpete (Electrical)
12 Jul 07 23:08
I saw the 2nd mention of energy efficient bulbs.  I haven't paid much attention to those yet but I've just been learning a little and I'm definitely going to buy some.  Seems pretty easy (except you need a special bulb for a dimmer circuit).

Above they conclude you save $36 in the life of a bulb... or more if you you pay more than 8 cents per KW.

And remember that during air-conditioning season (which is the better part of the year where I live), the inefficiency of an incandescent bulb hurts you twice... once when you expend extra electricity to generate heat along with your light, and a second time when you spend extra to remove that heat with your ac.

And if you're lazy like me... you'll be happy to know you won't be replacing bulbs as much.

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sms (Mechanical)
12 Jul 07 23:16
Pete, I switched every bulb in the house to CF's. The intermediaries that sell me power from your plant charge me 13.5 cents/kwh. My lovely wife was mostly interested in not having to change bulbs, but they have saved me money..

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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electricpete (Electrical)
13 Jul 07 0:06
A whole lot of intermediaries.   We make that electricity for about 2 cents per kw/hr.

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electricpete (Electrical)
13 Jul 07 0:07
I meant kw-hr

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Helpful Member!(4)  jmw (Industrial)
13 Jul 07 5:41
replace "Energy saving" light bulbs with reular and just use them less? There is a whole critique of the fluorescent type out there somewhere.
If I had a Hybrid car, trade it for a Jeep Cherokee and drive to an office not work at home.
Ashes to ashes apparently the Jeep Cherokee is top of the list  and the leading hybrid somewhere near 64th because of the special steel, the battery life.
Yes, someone just produced a study that shows that home workers consume more energy individually than if they went the average 33miles to work and back and shared the communal resources at the office.

Of course, in today's newspaper we have two articles  on dairy products. One claims that there are lots of health benefits from drinking a pint of milk a day etc and the other wants to see dairy products taxed like cigarettes because they are harmful.
So some of these measures are beset with conflicting information. The easiest thing I can do is wait for my light bulbs to dim before I make a choice and let my current car creep on till it drops.

On the other hand, there is something I can do which is lobby my local council to switch of all street lights after say 2am. Anyone out after that can carry a torch.
If we could do something constructive about crime we could cut back on "security lighting".
Bring back school buses (including electric) and make it compulsory to use them or walk (as suggested above). This would not only save energy it would lower a lot of blood pressure readings and perhaps save a few lives.

Of course, just as building houses on flood plains is pretty stupid, building houses in regions which make them energy intensive should have some limits too. If you live in a desert, expect to get hot in the day and cold at night. Sure, air conditioning makes some of these places livable, but should there be a limit of the amount of cooling?

Supermarkets definitely need to do something about open front chiller cabinets. Recycling plastic bags is fine but is this a big impact item or a little impact item in their overall contribution?

In fact, why do we need so much frozen food? Why not buy what we need when we need it? A few tinned goods will make sure we don't starve if there is a supply glitch.


BrunoPuntzJones (Materials)
13 Jul 07 9:41
It was the Jeep Wrangler, not the Jeep Cherokee that was top of the ashes to ashes list.    
electricpete (Electrical)
13 Jul 07 9:49
I didn't realize those compact flourescents had mercury like the older flourescents, but it makes sense.  For the homeowner using those bulbs, the implications are:
1 - know what to do if one breaks
2 - dispose of properly

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KENAT (Mechanical)
13 Jul 07 11:32
So you don't like Compact Florescent bulbs, use LED instead.  It’s gonna cost you big bucks now but is going down, supposedly.

As regard the Compact Florescent having mercury, this is true.  However I saw figures (something along the lines of) that if the electricity you use is largely coal based then because you burn less coal (which releases mercury to the environment), you actually reduce the total mercury released.  And of course if you actually send your bulb to the proper disposal place then you shouldn’t actually release the mercury, if I understand properly.

Why not use CFL and use them less and recycle them, win win win, no?

I’ve got mostly CFL at home.  There’s  a couple of light fittings where they don’t fit/couldn’t find the right size.  Plus I figured it was wasteful to replace regular bulbs before they died so didn’t’ look to hard for smaller ones that would fit yet.  

Also the new CFL don’t take 5 minutes to ‘warm up’ like the ones back in the early 90s did and the light quality is comparable to incandescent now.

We have a swamp/evaporative cooler at home (in desert), it costs a lot less to run than central air.  Supposedly it only keeps the house around 20° F cooler but if you set the thermostat really low (60-65 ish) then overnight it will cool the whole house so even when the temperature outside hits 110 in the afternoon the house should stay down at around 75-80.  With the help of a fan or two this is pretty bearable, even for someone hot blooded like me!  Does give the perverse situation that first thing in the morning we’re wrapped up to keep warm and shaving/showering is a pretty cold experience!

Another one, minimize the size of house/volume of the house you are heating or cooling.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

dcasto (Chemical)
13 Jul 07 16:20
On the CO2 versus global warming, Al Gore has the cause and effect backwards.  The earth is warming naturally (naturally means not man made)in the solar cycle.  This increase in temperature cause CO2 stored in the oceans and other places (ice, biomass, rocks..) to be released into the atmosphere.
Tomfh (Structural)
14 Jul 07 0:14
It's well understood that temperature increase makes CO2 rise.
It's also well understood that CO2 absorbs infra red radiation and thus makes temperature rise.

Al Gore isn't denying the first point, he is simply highlighting the second point.

As for the solar cycle theory, I presume you are quoting The Great Global Warming Swindle. TGGWS claims onscreen that the solar data comes from Christesen et al, but here's what Christensen had to say about the data as shown in the program:


Christenssen: We have concerns regarding the use of a graph featured in the documentary titled ‘Temp & Solar Activity 400 Years’. Firstly, we have reason to believe that parts of the graph were made up of fabricated data that were presented as genuine...

...Secondly, although the commentary during the presentation of the graph is consistent with the conclusions of the paper from which the figure originates, it incorrectly rules out a contribution by anthropogenic [man-made] greenhouse gases to 20th century global warming,"

When Durkin (TGGWS's producer) was questioned on these points by some other scientists, he responded as follows:


go and f*** yourself



“You’re a big daft cock.”
Helpful Member!  owg (Chemical)
15 Jul 07 8:04
Thanks for the link to the light bulb site at EFI. We live in a cold climate and heat with gas. We changed a few bulbs in high use services. I figure it does not make sense to change bulbs in places like bedrooms. The heat I don't get from the bulbs I have to make up with gas. At 1 hour per day, it would take 27 years to get the $36 according to the EFI site which I suspect does not take into account heat replacement and infrequent use. Since I only expect to live for 10 more years, some incandescents are staying. Anyway my wife doesn't like those new bulbs that take a second to come on, then gradually get brighter. Maybe the newer ones are better, so I have to redo the economics and write off the old ones and make sure I dispose of them properly?


electricpete (Electrical)
15 Jul 07 13:07
I agree that if you are in heating season, the energy benefit greatly diminished.  (The incandescent bulbs are good heaters.)

An interesting alternative use for those compact flourescent bulbs (although not really in the spirit of this thread):  instead of reducing the energy input, you can boost the light output if you have a dark corner that is not well enough lit by existing fixture.  For example putting a 250W equivalent output cf into a 100 watt bulb (after verifyihng the new bulb draws less than 100W).

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electricpete (Electrical)
15 Jul 07 13:09
"For example putting a 250W equivalent output cf into a 100 watt fixture.... "

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sms (Mechanical)
15 Jul 07 19:13
I live in air conditioning country, incandescent bulbs have a negative heat impact almost all year round...

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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jmw (Industrial)
19 Jul 07 6:58
OK, so are we back to the di-hydrogen monoxide thread?
Al Gore is a self appointed scapegoat.
When it all goes pear shaped it won't be the IPCC members and contributors who get blamed because no one really knows who they are but Al has made AGW his crusade and his is a name to remember. His and of course, Tippa's for her anti-heavy metal crusade, but she must be supporting his stance.... don't you worry about crusaders?


Tomfh (Structural)
19 Jul 07 7:43
Water vapor contributes around 50-60% of total greenhouse effect. This is around 3 or 4 times the contribution of CO2. This is reflected in all the climate models.
PSE (Industrial)
19 Jul 07 8:19
Looking at the original post, my actions for reducing personal impact:

Try to reduce the amount of overall consumption.  In general create less resource demand either in material or in energy.  The more "stuff" I have generates the need for increased storage space etc. ad infinitum.  It also (hopefully) means I end up with less waste to either throw away or send to recycling.

Tap water is my beverage of choice followed by either tea or coffee.  If spending a long time in an area of questionable water quality, a filtration set works well.  I do keep some bottled water around for emergency use.

I utilize a mix of Compact Fluorescent and Incandescent lighting.  CF for long term/heavy usage and Incandescent for quick on/off locations such as storage/utility rooms.

Programmable thermostat has helped tremendously with both heating and cooling use.

Being that my son has gotten more and more into battery powered toys, I have become amazed at the number of battery powered items we have.  They seem to accumulate without a lot of notice.  I recently picked up a battery charger and am beginning to move away from non-rechargeable batteries.

I do not water my lawn and frankly at the moment it is a lovely shade of brown.  I have also not needed to mow it for the past six weeks or so.  I plan to plant some shade trees and more robust landscaping to reduce the amount of grass as well.  I have thought about composting but haven't gone there yet.

I know there is more I can do (I only occasionally carpool).  I have not heard of non-sensical suggestions for reducing one's impact on the environment.  I tend to run in a crowd of some pretty bright folks.  I do have to work on the wife a bit as she tends to be a bit less frugal when it comes to overall consumption.

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
19 Jul 07 10:47
Use more nanotechnology - there are less materials involved so it must be good for the environment.

KENAT (Mechanical)
19 Jul 07 10:51
Except for the health risks.

'Bucky balls' have been found to kill in some tests.

I brought up the topic of getting a water filter with my wife at the weekend as this post had got me thinking.  I was vetoed!

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

jjf1 (Structural)
19 Jul 07 12:58
Come on - we're all smart people here.........

Is it possible that this current focus on climate change is just another fad?

Not too long ago, there was concern that we were going to enter a new ice age;
then run out of fuel;
then run out of food;
then run out of space to live;
then Y2K was going to end civilization;
then bird flu pandemics;
(etc, etc, etc....)

Are we that easy to manipulate?

I'm not saying some good isn't derived from each one of these exercises - most notably conservation and pollution controls - but when you look at the human imprint on the globe - we're still pretty insignificant)

My guess is the current global warming craze has reached its apex and celebrities and the press will lose interest.  Shortly after that all these people will be chasing the next big global catastrophe.

My advise - save your $$$ the next big scare is going to be poisoned food ingredients in cheap pet food and cheap toothpaste - oops maybe I'm too late....

SomptingGuy (Automotive)
19 Jul 07 13:01
I just keep reminding myself that the next big hunk of rock/metal from space to hit us will put all of this into perspective.
0707 (Petroleum)
20 Jul 07 5:46
“Since land and sunlight are distributed more equitably than coal and oil, biotechnology can be a great equaliser, helping to narrow the gap between rich and poor countries.”

Freeman Dyson

25362 (Chemical)
20 Jul 07 11:43

Consider the policy started in Paris (France) on replacing the gas-gulping machines with bycicles. One arrives at destination sooner and healthier.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
20 Jul 07 11:45

That theory doesnt stand up.

Most of the current sources of coal and oil (outside the middle east) are in third world countries, many of these are actually worse off than they were before.

The Biotechnology setup costs are prohibitive. These countries would require rich foreign companies to come in and set it up and the cycle of exploitation starts again.

Being in Petroleum, you probably work for one of the major culprits.

25362 (Chemical)
20 Jul 07 11:46

I should have written bicycles. See the rental policy in:
Ussuri (Civil/Environmental)
25 Jul 07 8:32
According to this article it seems to be the fault of the patio heater.
KENAT (Mechanical)
25 Jul 07 11:16
Discovered a good one this weekend.

Check that the bulbs/globes in your house haven't been painted over.

I'm in a rental.  A while back I discovered when installing a cfl, that my sons bedroom bulb had been painted over.  I figured it was a one off and left it at that.

Over the weekend I saw the grocery store had 3 60W equivalent CFL for $150.  Inspired in part by this thread I brought some.  Went home and started installing them.

2 of them went into closets.  In the first closet the globe was painted over, in the second the actual bulb was painted!

So I've replaced 2X 100W bulbs with 2X 15W (I think that's right) CFL, and the closets are actually brighter now!

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

ewh (Aerospace)
25 Jul 07 11:26
Boy, that's a lot to spend to save a few cents!surprise
KENAT (Mechanical)
25 Jul 07 12:24
Oops, $1.50, or 150C.

Or in real money appoximately .75 stirling


KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

0707 (Petroleum)
25 Jul 07 13:12
Hi csd72

As you are an educated person I am sure that you are not culprit of anything on climate change. For sure you have no car, you ride a bike, you have solar panels on the roof of your house, you spare your own trash, you don’t smoke, you ware no synthetic clothes, when you go to down town you always travel on public free co2 emission public transports, you recycle your own wastes, you rationalize your water consumption, you don’t burn coal on your grills. As you are in the design of structural  building constructions you include in your design conceptions proper insulation and sun orientation locations. All your projects are equipped with devices environment friendly to avoid power consumption in winter and in summer.    

Me as working in the oil industry I am ware that the fossil oil resources are not infinite and one should make as much as possible to reduce its consumption, that way we also reduce climate alterations.

Nowadays oil industry is no more the old oil industry. Because of environment impacts, most of new developments on emissions reduction technology come from Oil industry. Oil operators are being more and more stressed by environment organizations and civil society.

Oil industry is now investing lots of money on Biotechnology (bio diesel components). European countries are expected to incorporate by 2010 about 10% of bio diesel on oil combustibles.

Wind, tidal power, biotechnology, and natural gas can compete soon with traditional petroleum fossil fuels.


jmw (Industrial)
25 Jul 07 13:25
On the whole I think patio heaters are a frivolous waste of money and energy.
If it is cold or wet, go inside. Or tough it out. That's what being British is meant to be about.
Parents didn't take their kids to the beach on warm days, if you waited for a warm day you'd wait for ever.
Besides, you booked your holidays or arranged to borrow a car long in advance and you took your chances with the weather.

Parents would go down on the beach and clothe their kids in the woollen swimming trunks and send them into the water while they devoted their energy to trying to erect a wind break, never easy on a shingled beach in a high wind, and get the primus stove going. If lucky, the primus would let the adults have some tea before the kids came out of the water suitably blue (I forget which stage of hypothermia was the most desired).
No hot drinks for the kids, just orange barley water once they'd been rubbed down with a coarse textured sand encrusted towel guaranteed to remove the top (blue) layer of skin.
While the adults huddled in the shelter of the wind break, wrapped like Eskimos (Inuit), the kids would then stand outside shivering and eating egg-mayonaise and sand or cucumber and sand sandwiches.

The weather is, or should be, irrelevant to any outdoor British activities from taking the top down on the sports car to drinking outside at the pub by the river.

I remember last year in Singapore deciding to go for a river cruise on the tourist boats.
As we queued the heavens opened and water turned the steps into a waterfall. I, my wife and one other family duly boarded the boat for our cruise and huddled into the driest corners we could find (everyone else fled for shelter).
I bet they're Brits, I thought to myself looking at the other family. This was later proved by the fact that neither group said a word either to other members of their group or to strangers.

Patio heaters are for wimps.
Of course, I saw my first one of these in Santa Barbara. One? half a dozen at a cafe in one of those small side passageways.

On the other hand, by the law of unintended consequences, the article said this:


Patio burners powered by gas cylinders are also becoming more popular in the country's pubs, hotels and restaurants, with the smoking ban encouraging proprietors to make outdoor areas more people-friendly.


KENAT (Mechanical)
25 Jul 07 14:01
The only British outdoor activity afected by weather should be Cricket.  And even then only the players.  Spectators will take their lot and like it.  (There is an argument for calling off Rugby when the pitch is frozen but this sounds like something American footballers would do so I'm against it)

JMW you're correct the British way is to tuff it out and put up with the consequences.  I used to sit out in beer gardens in December no complaints.  This usually after lending my jacket to some attractive young lady.

Patio heaters are for wimps, and as you point out a complete waste of energy.

Wear a wooly hat & scarf!

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RDK (Civil/Environmental)
4 Aug 07 17:01
I am often amused by some of the mistaken technical statements made by otherwise well meaning people.

For example we hear a lot about switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs vice incandescent bulbs to save power.

In the heating season there is absolutely no saving of one light bulb to another. The excess power consumed by the incandescent bulb is exactly offset by a reduction in electricity consumed to heat the house. (In the cooling season the power is wasted and another portion of that power is needed to account for the additional load on the air conditioner).

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion

KENAT (Mechanical)
4 Aug 07 18:53


The excess power consumed by the incandescent bulb is exactly offset by a reduction in electricity consumed to heat the house.

How many people here use electricity to heat their house?  I haven't since I was a kid and then it sucked.

You could compare to any heating system but only assuming your heating system heats the house with the same overall efficiency as the bulb.

Also some of the time the house needs heating the lights may be off.  Unless you don't have heat loss to the environment I dont think exactly the same is correct.

Even you admit that in the cooling season (if you live somewhere that has one) CFL have an advantage.

So while the advantage may be smaller even by your analysis CFL do appear to have an advantage.

I'm sure those in favour of CFL have hyped the advantages but your arguements are also somewhat simplistic.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

electricpete (Electrical)
4 Aug 07 19:53
The heating aspects were already mentioned several times here, so I'm not sure who Rick was referring to.

Good points Kenat. Also there are lights on porches and garages and backyards etc where the heating effect is not relevant.

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sms (Mechanical)
5 Aug 07 9:27

Living in Houston Texas we very rarely need to turn on the heat, and the A/C runs about 9 months out of the year. I have tracked electricity usage for my home for years, and my usage went down with the CF lighting.

So what was the mistaken technical statement?

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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pipehead (Petroleum)
9 Aug 07 0:07
sms, I see RDK's point.  The excess watts from an incandecent bulb heats the house.  An in Houston I understand your point there.  So RDK is stating at some point you do not get ahead with CF.

I have some recessed lights over the kitchen sink.  In the summer I put in the CF.  In the winter (CO) I use the high watt incandencent because the heat keeps my a little warming when doing the dishes, so I get heat right there when I need it.  It's like bathroom heaters using lights.  In the winter when the house temp is 65, my bathroom is 75 as I shower and dry off.
naturesally (Structural)
10 Aug 07 11:50
I'm actually starting my own eviro firm, I believe that every body, in every field, in every way is affected by these changes in the world we live in. Do you have any educated advice of where to get the capital for my ideas, and they flow in my mind on a daily basis!
sms (Mechanical)
10 Aug 07 12:57
If you are in the US,, or the small business administration...

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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Helpful Member!  PBroad (Mining)
10 Aug 07 22:56
If you think that letting humans control the "corrective actions" needed, will get us out of the hole, instead of digging us in deeper, then perhaps a debate on is more suitable.
epoisses (Chemical)
13 Aug 07 12:33
Well.. human corrective actions have got us out of every other hole so far.

acid rain
CFC emissions
name it

The problem has ample media attention, solutions are little by little being put in place, what are you complaining about?
sms (Mechanical)
13 Aug 07 17:05
And if humans are not going to control the corrective actions, who are? Dolphins? Mice?

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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csd72 (Structural) (OP)
14 Aug 07 11:00

The dolphins of course ..
"so long and thanks for all the fish" - Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy.

PBroad (Mining)
14 Aug 07 15:02
In the United States, the calendar year 1998 ranked as the hottest of them all – until someone checked the math.

After a Toronto skeptic tipped NASA this month to one flaw in its climate calculations, the U.S. agency ordered a full data review.

Days later, it put out a revised list of all-time hottest years. The Dust Bowl year of 1934 now ranks as hottest ever in the U.S. – not 1998.

This is not NASA's firstmaths blunder - remember the Mars Lander program.  But if we can't trust NASA to get the maths right to correct our "human initiated imbalance" who can we trust??????
sms (Mechanical)
14 Aug 07 16:57

I am glad to see that someone caught the reference!! I thought I might be the only fan... winky smile

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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KENAT (Mechanical)
14 Aug 07 17:50

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

Helpful Member!(4)  GregLocock (Automotive)
14 Aug 07 21:38
That's 6x9, base 13


Greg Locock

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SomptingGuy (Automotive)
15 Aug 07 4:50
It's also what you get from Matlab if you type this:

>> sum *
GregLocock (Automotive)
15 Aug 07 7:08
Back on topic (not that I understood you)

Dyson makes some sensible observations:


Greg Locock

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electricpete (Electrical)
15 Aug 07 21:08
Back off topic, I didn't understand it either, but it works.

» sum *

ans =


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GregLocock (Automotive)
15 Aug 07 21:53
got it, I thought that was  

greater than greater than sum *

not prompt(>>) sum *

well you can't google for that!


Greg Locock

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SomptingGuy (Automotive)
16 Aug 07 10:36
It just tickled me when I first found that "The sum of everything" was 42 according to Matlab.
KENAT (Mechanical)
16 Aug 07 14:44
Wow, matlab programmers read Douglas Adams.

I know I'm shockedwinky smile

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

sms (Mechanical)
16 Aug 07 18:35
In case you don't follow Hitchhikers guide in the book, the answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything is 42.

That is the humor in the matlab answer..

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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KENAT (Mechanical)
16 Aug 07 18:39
now you've gone and spoilt it sms.

Simple tip with regard to the OP.

Don't do a lot of cooking baking etc in the house when you have the air running.

I say this having spent all afternoon making my(in)famous chicken parcels which involves stove top and oven.  All this in the middle of the Mojave desert with an external temp over 100F and a touch of humidity so the evaporative cooler isn't working well.  We don't have central air.

What was I thinking, oh I remember now, the wife wanted them!

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

Tomfh (Structural)
16 Aug 07 22:39
I love Adams' reply to the suggestion that the 6x9 base-13 thing was deliberate.


nobody writes jokes in base 13 [...] I may be a pretty sad person, but I don't make jokes in base 13.
epoisses (Chemical)
17 Aug 07 10:11
sms - come on, do you think there's any real engineer that has not read the HGTTG? smile
SomptingGuy (Automotive)
17 Aug 07 10:22
Since the thread has gone completely HHGTTG, here's my workings:

sum *

is syntactically identical to




and '*' is identical to [42]

However, I still have an inkling that that 42 being the ASCII code for * is no coincidence.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
17 Aug 07 10:45

maybe douglas Adams used matlab!


 maybe this is the reason why the ASCE code was chosen as 42.

GregLocock (Automotive)
18 Aug 07 19:10
Nah, he only had a Mac.


Greg Locock

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ewh (Aerospace)
20 Aug 07 11:02
Hey!  It's OK, it's only a couple of little mice.
dcasto (Chemical)
21 Aug 07 1:14
Eveyone knows who'll correct the problems. The earth natural cycles, economic pressures on the economies, and not hair burning, window jumping, flag wavers.

 Is there any data that chngeing freons did anything other than making CF12 the largest smuggled material (even bigger than cocaine and herion). Acid rain, never really happened like predicted. Smog, still around, we changed out our equipment based on economic advances more than addition of catalytic converters.
rb1957 (Aerospace)
21 Aug 07 13:59

acid rain is real ... check the ph level (and the fish stocks) is canadian lakes.  now if people were hyped into believing that acid rain would melt their cloths and burn their skin, well i have some "land" in florida i wouldn't mind selling
KENAT (Mechanical)
21 Aug 07 14:08
Re Acid rain, didn't the Norweigans have a big problem with it due to the polution from the UK blowing their way.  Swathes of dead forest, dead lakes etc.  Or was the evidence that they were linked not sufficiently compelling for you dcasto? (seems I was remembering the dead forest bit wrong)

Likewise I've seen numerous articles indicating the 'ozone hole' is shrinking but again perhaps these didn't meet your criteria.

Admittedly I don't think either site is peer reviewed etc but I didn't want to spend a bunch of time looking.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

rb1957 (Aerospace)
21 Aug 07 16:34
maybe dcasto was right about the ozone hole ... from kenat's link, the hole looks much the same size in '06 as it was in '92 (ok, numerically it's larger but how significant ?), tho' maybe the denisty is lower.  

but i found this piece interesting ...
"The stability of the stratospheric polar vortex structure, which kept it generally centered over the South Pole, and the very persistent, anomalously cold temperatures in the presence of halogen levels that remain at high levels (though no longer at their highest levels) were the prime contributors to the record setting depletion."
civilperson (Structural)
24 Aug 07 16:31
Electric powered heat pumps with geothermal storage are price competitive with other fuels supplying heat.
Helpful Member!  GMcD (Mechanical)
25 Aug 07 17:52
Civilperson- yeah but where does the electricity come from to power that geo-exchange heat pump unit?  Generally in many regions of North America, that electrical power comes from thermal generating plants burning coal or some other fossil fuel.  Recall that on average, for every ten units of fuel burned at that thermal generating plant, less than 1 unit of electrical energy actually gets used at the terminal end where your computer is plugged in.  It is, in fact, more environmentally friendly to use a high efficiency natural gas furnace or domestic boiler in your house than an electrically powered geo-exchange heat pump in many areas of the world, and North America, unless your electricity is locally generated by micro-hydro, wind, solar or some other non-fossil fuel source
electricpete (Electrical)
26 Aug 07 0:17
"Recall that on average, for every ten units of fuel burned at that thermal generating plant, less than 1 unit of electrical energy actually gets used at the terminal end"
I agree they can be pretty inefficient.  About twice as much heat is rejected to the heat sink as is extracted by the turbine, which puts most steam plants in the ballpark of 30 - 35% efficient. Still that's a long way from 10% and I thought the downstream components had pretty high efficiencies.   Do you have any reference for the 10% number?

"It is, in fact, more environmentally friendly to use a high efficiency natural gas furnace or domestic boiler in your house than an electrically powered geo-exchange heat pump in many areas of the world, and North America, unless your electricity is locally generated by micro-hydro, wind, solar or some other non-fossil fuel source"
Don't forget nuclear. It is still subject to the low efficiencies of the fossil plant, but no emissions.  

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GMcD (Mechanical)
26 Aug 07 1:20
Electricpete- I have some references at work, but I was speaking generally, and mileage may vary, but there are at least another 10-15% losses via transmission and voltage conversions, as well as the end-use appliance efficiency.  Googling energy utilization efficiencies and electrical transmission efficiencies may provide some sources.  In Canada we have very long distance transmission lines compared to many areas of the States so transmission losses are greater.

Absolutely nuclear is a player, but it is so politicized, and the media has instilled such fear in the average person that it is a difficult energy source to utilize in North America.  I'd rather see all the tar sands in Ft. McMurray extracted by a nice little Candu nuke plant (see how close Ft. McMurray is to Uranium City, Saskatchewan) rather than burning up about 1/3 of the natural gas supply in Canada to make steam and hot water to extract their bitumen.
GMcD (Mechanical)
26 Aug 07 1:52
Electricpete:  just Googled some info on the overall energy utilization efficiency of thermal power plants:

"Note also that we have confirmed that the net thermal efficiency of the coal burning electric power generating plants is just under 30%. Actually, there are many additional losses in getting that electricity to distant homes, and the net electricity actually received at our electrical outlets is only around 13% of the original energy in the fuel! Sad, huh? (most of that additional 17% of energy loss is due to the long high-tension electrical lines that carry the electricity the many miles from where a power plant is to where you are. Since those wires carry very high electrical currents, and they have unavoidable electrical resistance, there is an unavoidable power loss of I2R. Essentially, all those long power lines act much like the wires in your toaster do, to get hot and radiate away heat. Conventional design of such high-tension lines is such that they INTEND that only 90% of the electricity put in one end of a 60-mile long high-tension line actually comes out the other end, and all the rest goes into heating the atmosphere around the wires!)"  

from this link:  

Also here is a link to European average thermal plant to gross electricty output at the plant:

Generally it looks like the realistic average efficiency of a thermal electrcial plant is about 30-35% at the point the electricty hits the high tension lines, then start subtracting transmission and voltage conversion losses down to the 115 volts you use in your house, and the generally accepted figure is that about 10% to 15% of the energy burned at a thermal generating plant comes out your plug at home, and then you lose even more due to the inefficiencies of the appliances using the power.

Thats why I like to argue with the geo-exchange heat pump zealots about how much more "efficient" they are.  It all has to be taken in context.  Geo-exchange heat pumps used in an area with relatively "green" electricty from hydro or nuclear IS a good thing, but the geo and heat pump systems are actually causing more pollution in a coal fired thermal plant zone, compared to burning the fossil fuel at a higher, more efficient level at the terminal end (your house).
jmw (Industrial)
26 Aug 07 8:24
Efficiency is a difficult one to call because it depends on what is included.
With the de-bundling of electric power generation and the creation of auto-producers (i.e. large scale users generating their own power and selling the surplus to the national grid) quite a few operations saw a major increase in efficiency because they were able to provide CHP (Combined heat and power) so a textile factory or paper mill, which uses large amounts of heat, steam and electricity suddenly becomes very much more efficient when it generates its own power and steam. surplus of heat and electricity are all available to the community.
In CHP, large diesel engines can prove very efficient indeed and economically sound since they can use the cheapest fuels.


jmw (Industrial)
13 Sep 07 8:25
Here is a nice line of reasoning:
IF the earth's temperature were rising (a lot of growing concern over the integrity of the temperature data presented)and only the earths, then we are whetre we are today with two camps; those that believe in anthropogenic global warming and those that don't or who are "agnostics" rather than "atheists".
BUT IF the temperature on other planets is rising also then there is a reasonable chance that this might not be co-incidence but due to a common cause... increased solar activity.
The other planets could represent a nice control group where man has not had his evil way with the planet.

1) are the other planets showing a real increase in temperature in a meaningful way?
2) is this a co-incidence or is there a common causation?
(I am indebted to a Telegraph On-line reader's post for this idea).


KENAT (Mechanical)
13 Sep 07 14:30
For the planets that have a meaningful atmosphere this could indeed be interesting.

Of course, apparantly we have solar dimming as well as global warming.  So global warming is actually a lot worse than we realize, but global dimming is mitigating.  Said it on TV so must be true.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

rb1957 (Aerospace)
13 Sep 07 15:55
nice idea, but I'm willing to bet that the intrepretation of the results on other planets could be spun ... their atmosphere is different, increasing/decreasing the effect of an increased/decreased solar input.

I do understand (ie I've read reports of this, not the original science, nor am I smart enough to do the science) that the sun is in a period of unusually high activity indicated by sun spots.
jmw (Industrial)
13 Sep 07 18:50
But I thought that the sun was actually cooling down at the moment? Isn't that one of the claims by which the AGW climatologists were undermining the solar mechanism for  warming?
Given the problems with Hansens temperature data and its apparently daily switching around of which years were hottest and coolest etc. I'd have to guess that rb1957 is right, whatever the data is and whatever it appears to show, the spin will make you dizzy.


kenvlach (Materials)
15 Sep 07 22:15
Worth noting is
Challenge to Scientific Consensus on Global Warming:  Analysis Finds Hundreds of Scientists Have Published Evidence Countering Man-Made Global Warming Fears
- by Dennis Avery, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow, Sept. 12, 2007
"A new analysis of peer-reviewed literature reveals that more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting at least one element of current man-made global warming scares. More than 300 of the scientists found evidence that 1) a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced more than a dozen global warmings similar to ours since the last Ice Age and/or that 2) our Modern Warming is linked strongly to variations in the sun's irradiance. “This data and the list of scientists make a mockery of recent claims that a scientific consensus blames humans as the primary cause of global temperature increases since 1850,” said Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Dennis Avery.

Other researchers found evidence that 3) sea levels are failing to rise importantly; 4) that our storms and droughts are becoming fewer and milder with this warming as they did during previous global warmings; 5) that human deaths will be reduced with warming because cold kills twice as many people as heat; and 6) that corals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate."

About 163 publications are listed.  Note that Mr. Avery only claims that the major portion of global warming is natural, not that mankind isn't contributing.

It seems common sense that some plants and animal species will benefit while others (e.g., polar bears) will suffer. Same with nations.

MechanicalAnimal (Mechanical)
25 Sep 07 4:04
I have a few suggestions that might work on a global scale:

1. Changing the policy of the automotive industry and it's customers, specially in the US, to return to optimal rather than jaw-dropping constructions (no you DON'T need a 12-cyllinder SUV wagon to go to a McDonald's drive through in the center of NYC).
That's why I drive an Opel Corsa 1.3 CDTI, avg 4.5 l/100 km.

2. Car pool.

3. Changing the packaging policy of all products. I'm amazed how you buy something in a bag which has been put in another bag which is placed in a box wrapped in paper and placed for you in a nylon bag. Even if you buy wrapping paper, it's wrapped.
That's why I deliberately choose to buy products with minimum packaging (also saves the trips to the bin).

4. Support and buy eco-farmed products as much as you can. I won't get into global warming and whether it exists, but I think we can all agree that pesticides, chemicals designed to kill different life forms, ARE a threat to different life forms. They get into drinking water, and into you, when you eat food treated by them. If we boycott producers who use such substances in their production, eventually they'll come around.
MechanicalAnimal (Mechanical)
25 Sep 07 4:09
Oh yeah:

5. Make your own energy. Solar collectors to warm your water, a small wind-turbine, solar cells, whatever: it reduces your personal energy expenses,it's fun to own and maintain (well, we're engineers, aren't we?), and even if it's 500 W, it's 500 W less in oil and other polluting fuels.
GregLocock (Automotive)
25 Sep 07 9:07
"1. Changing the policy of the automotive industry and it's customers, specially in the US, to return to optimal rather than jaw-dropping constructions (no you DON'T need a 12-cyllinder SUV wagon to go to a McDonald's drive through in the center of NYC).
That's why I drive an Opel Corsa 1.3 CDTI, avg 4.5 l/100 km. "

Why on Earth would a rational consumer in the USA care what their fuel consumption is? The cost of fuel is far less than the cost of financing a new car.

Incidentally, automotive companies do not choose what cars to sell, for the most part. The customers choose what to buy. Ignoring that fact of life has killed 97% of the car companies ever created.


Greg Locock

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graybeach (Structural)
25 Sep 07 10:49
You hit the nail on the head Greg.  The cost of fuel in the US must go up for any real change to occur.  It is not just cars either.  You should see the size of the houses being built in the US today.  They are huge!  And it is not just the heat; it is also all the stuff one has to buy to furnish them.  Then there are all the new roads that are built to get to the new big houses, further and further away from cities.  Are people really so much happier with these huge cars and houses?
KENAT (Mechanical)
25 Sep 07 11:53
To some extent the US has painted themselves into a corner.  Various rules/regs were introduced some time back that at least in part led to the increased amount of SUVs & Pickups.

Now because of all these large vehicles on the road many drivers don't feel safe in smaller, more efficient, cars.

Combined with the relatively cheap gas (it's approximately doubled in price in the last 4 years or so, bit lower at the mo'.  Was usually under $1.60/gallon when I moved out here in my part of the world but now is up around $3, more until a few months ago.  However, still a lot less than it was in the UK) then limited incentive to drive really small efficient cars.  Combined with the rules on diesal emissions...

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

MechanicalAnimal (Mechanical)
26 Sep 07 9:51

I was more or less appealing to human reason and common sense, not to pure economical calculations. US is leading this enormous overconsumption trend (as graybeach addressed) which has very little to do with either (human reason OR common sense). If we are to do anything to help improve environment or lessen our impact on it, we must make a difference between what we NEED and what we WANT, and adjust our mindsets to NOT do things just "because we can", or worse, "because we can afford it".

I am not naive enough to think it will actually happen, though.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
2 Oct 07 15:17

Bravo, that is exactly what I have been thinking since I arrived here.

The politicians are trying to keep the interest rate unnaturally low because that is what is popular. But this results in excessive spending and no incentive for people to save.

Meanwhile the US foreign debt is rising, and this will not be helped when the oil starts to run low and countries stop needing US dollars to trade for oil.

Reminds me of the situation in Australia a decade ago, and a certain politicians claim of "the recession we had to have". Sometimes boom is not the best thing to maintain, because it just makes the bust even greater.

jmw (Industrial)
2 Oct 07 15:38
However, a report in the last week or two gave a projection as to how many billion extra people there will be on the planet in a few years time.
That is the real problem. Unless that is addressed then what possible benefit can the changes we make have if they will be set aside simply by increased consumption?
So in respect of the last two responses part of the solution is certainly to be more responsible for how we manage our lives on this planet.
But that is not the problem. Indeed, it simply makes the problem more acute and the damage of a response to a false scenario even more so.
The questions about climate change are:
  • is man causing it?
  • is climate change bad for us?
  • is CO2 the cause?
  • is more CO2 totally bad fr us or does it bring benefits? (remember the headlines about the cost/damage of El nino and the small paragraphs about how beneficial it really was?)
  • Is the climate really warming up?
  • Is responding to the assumption that the climate is warming up, that man is causing it and that man can do something about it a "safe" assumption to make and does it warrant a precautionary response?
  • what if the IPCC et al are wrong? How much harm does the precautionary approach do to our ability to respond to the real problem, as an when it is identified?
  • Can you scam the taxpayers twice? will they (taxpayers) pay out for another alarmist scare after having been duped on the first (the "Boy who cried wolf" principle as it is generally presented) or will they dig their heels in?
This isn't about whether we are environmentally concious or not but about whether the Anthropogenic Global Warming scare is genuine, mistaken or a hoax? or is it robust enough that we should act. Doing the wrong thing for the right reasons is no help when the real problem emerges and no one can be made to take it seriously and if the could, don't have enough remaining resources to do anything sensible about it.


csd72 (Structural) (OP)
2 Oct 07 17:10

a billion extra people in third world countries will not come anywhere near close to the consumption of 300 million americans (for example).

The resource consumption of First world countries is way out of proportion to their relative population.

Much of our consumption is optional and therefore we have the option to reduce it. Poorer people tend to have less optional consumption as most of their resources are spent on survival.

KENAT (Mechanical)
2 Oct 07 17:24
We all know not everyone here agrees on global warming/CO2 link etc.

However, what if any, negative effect could just reducing personal consumption/individual impact have?

There may be an economic impact if we use less and someones already brought up mercury in cfl but within the readily achievable limits what negative impact can trying to use a little less energy have?

If nothing else reducing the European/US reliance on imported energy sources is probably a good idea, no?

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

jmw (Industrial)
2 Oct 07 17:24
One concern is that third world people may not get enough to support even the most primitive lifestyle. That is why I asked the question about bio-fuels. Collectively many of these measures will impact very badly on third world living conditions.
There is something strange that when starvation is such an ever present risk in such countries that so much (or even some) of their arable land is devoted to producing wild bird seed for the western population to scatter about wastefully in their gardens. Or that valuable rain forest will be subjected to slash and burn for sugar cane or palm oil for bio-fuels with consequent losses to the already endangered species.
And we see meat and egg prices rising here already, without even bio-fuels getting into their stride yet.
Fine if there is a genuine reason to replace mineral oils with bio-fuels but worse than frivolous, it is criminal to do so if that results in a substantial proportion of the population falling further behind in the survival stakes because their grain and their arable land is more valuable for bio-fuels than to feed them.

So granted the first part of your comment, about consumption but that does not excuse the need to recognise the inherent dangers of uncontrolled population growth nor the consequences of poorly conceived strategies to address unproven problems that may not even be problems in the first place.


KENAT (Mechanical)
2 Oct 07 17:30
jmw, reducing personal use should better their plight though.  

Using less energy generally would reduce the pressure on all energy sources wouldn't it, including bio fuel?  Using bio fuel isn't reducing energy consumption which is what I understood the OP to be asking about.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
2 Oct 07 17:50

I disagree with how this whole biofuel thing has been projected - as if it is a cure to all our problems - It is more a supply solution than an environmental one. Granted it is better for carbon emissions (depending on how it is produced), but it has other problems associated with it.


Cure poverty, and the population growth will come down. First world countries all have lower growth than third world ones.


KENAT (Mechanical)
2 Oct 07 18:12
Csd, My point is, that widespread introduction of biofuel has little to do with the OP as I understand you meant it.

I agree that biofuels have issues, I'm just not convinced this is the place to discuss it unless you have a diesel you want to convert and a source of recycled veggy oil.  thread730-198198: Bio-fuels .... good or bad? is maybe more appropriate.

However it’s your thread so I guess you get to decidesmile.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

ewh (Aerospace)
7 Jan 08 13:48
Sorry to resurrect this thread, but new developments happen.

Believe it if you need it
or leave it if you dare

KENAT (Mechanical)
7 Jan 08 14:20
Right, well I'm gonna install a coal fireplace, put the incandescant bulbs back in, remove the draft insulation I just put in, replace the evaporative cooler with A/C and buy the biggest SUV I can find.

That should put a dent in the cold spellwinky smile

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

zdas04 (Mechanical)
7 Jan 08 16:05
I can see it now, the Global Warming acrimony continuing in an atmosphere where the remaining elephants start getting woolly.  The Warming debate will not end until Al Gore (and his ilk) freezes to death.

Bottom line is that Nature is so big that the best (or worst) that humanity does cannot have more than a temporary, local impact.

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
7 Jan 08 16:30

Where can I get some of those rose coloured glasses you are wearing?
davefitz (Mechanical)
7 Jan 08 16:33
It may be that the battle over "climate change" is a just  proxy war- the real issue facing us in 40 -50 yrs is  depletion of fossil fuels, and the implications it would have on a mechanized society. Since both issues are adressed in the same manner ,, one can fight the depletion issue without ever mentioning it
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
7 Jan 08 16:38

Then again, if the Al Gore types are right, then the depletion of fossil fuels may be the best thing that could possibly happen.

Mankind has always come up with leaps of technology at times when there were pressures(e.g. population pressures).

We may just end up using mini nuclear reactors in our vehicles or ZPMs or whatever.
zdas04 (Mechanical)
7 Jan 08 16:58
I really have a hard time seeing how talking about an impending ice age can possibly be "viewing the world through rose colored glasses".  The NASA article says that in about 3 years it is going to start getting COLD  on this planet and I really hate the cold.

The argument has never been about whether the climate is changing, but rather whether anthropogenic sources of "greenhouse gases" are a significant contribution to the direction and magnitude of those changes.  The NASA article seems to me to show clearly how small our impact really is--when a small change in the sunspot activity can drive us into an ice age, how arrogant are we to think that the mites on the parasites on fleas (mankind) can really wag the dogs tail?

When we run out of burnable hydrocarbons, the world will find a new equilibrium.  That equilibrium will either be built around new energy sources or a hugely reduced human population with significantly reduced per capita energy consumption.  The Tempest in the "Global Warming" Teapot is preventing a focus on solving the end-of-burnable-hydrocarbons problems by demonizing industrial activities.  

owg (Chemical)
8 Jan 08 7:50
The NASA article says nothing about the weather or the climate. It is the SSRC that makes that extrapolation based on a theory developed by guess who, the SSRC. Their work is supported by one name who used to work in Washington but who now works for a company in Florida. This company has issued one press release in 2008. I could not find any press releases from them in 2007.


Helpful Member!(5)  moltenmetal (Chemical)
8 Jan 08 7:58
zdas04:  looking a few posts back, you basically said that humans can't affect nature because nature is too "big".  That's a lovely notion which is totally correct if you take a very, very broad view of "nature".  Yes, I'm convinced that there will still be life on earth after we've dumped 100% of the fossil carbon back into the atmosphere.  That we're doing so in what amounts to a geological nanosecond is no different than any of innumerable cataclysmic events the Earth has faced over geological time, and life will adapt.  Humans will too:  I'm convinced there will be still humans on the planet after we're finished burning all the oil and coal and natural gas and methane hydrates and anything else we can get our hands onto.

But that's entirely NOT the point!

Humans can and DO have a dramatic influence on Nature viewed on a slightly smaller scale.  We've caused mass extinctions, denuded vast areas of the planet of the forests that have covered it for millenia etc.  Humans have had lots of measurable influence on Nature!  It is hubris (of a reverse sort I guess) to assume that we can't hurt the Earth no matter how hard we try!

What the legions of people who actually study this topic for a living are saying is simply this:  there is the PROBABILITY that we humans, by dumping so much CO2 and methane back into the atmosphere, causing a MEASURABLE and significant difference in the composition of the Earth's atmosphere, will alter the climate of the entire Earth in a way which it will take millenia for Nature's processes to even partially reverse.  The results and magnitude of this change are not known quantitatively, but qualitatively they can be estimated, and the results for most humans are not pretty.  Hence the argument to at least curb the rate at which we dump this carbon back into the atmosphere from a geological nanosecond to at least a geological microsecond.  It seems eminently reasonable to me and it's unconvincing to you, so we'll have to agree to disagree.
zdas04 (Mechanical)
8 Jan 08 8:20
Funny, there seem to be just as many people "who actually study this topic" that disagree with your position.  I guess you have to choose your experts.

Sideswiper (Electrical)
8 Jan 08 10:31
Yes, it is all about choosing your experts.  I bet if you follow the money far enough, all of the "experts" agree with whoever paid them.

Which makes good business sense... why pay someone to disagree with you?

But it's a sad state for science no matter which side you're on.  We like to think of science being an ideal, above politics... but it isn't.
CajunCenturion (Computer)
8 Jan 08 11:21


We like to think of science being an ideal, above politics... but it isn't.
So very true, but isn't that human nature?  As much as I, and I think to some degree all of us, would like to think otherwise, scientists, just like everyone else need to make a living.  Science is a business run by people, and as such, is subject to the same politics, greed, corruption, and agenda pushing as every other career.  Just as that Nobel prize winning scientist Al Gore.  The sad thing that it's that it's so easy with science because people don't understand it, and FUD sells.  Science can easily scare people into parting with their money to investigate this problem or that problem, because if you don't, it will kill you, and maybe, all of humanity as well.

Good Luck
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

jmw (Industrial)
8 Jan 08 12:24
Here's a neat solution,
people are carbon neutral; burn people.
Supply and demand laws will result in there being not enough bodies naturally available and so the organ doner business would go hand in hand (pardon the pun) with bodies for will be seen to have set a precedent for ensuring adequate supplies both of parts and bodies (what's left after supplying organs)... and due to the natural market forces the demand for bodies will accelerate to the extent that all sorts of crimes will be punishable by death.... no car tax, insurance, jaywalking etc. with body parts going to the organ market and the body as fuel.

This is a win win situation because .... eventually you will run out of people; no more Anthropogenic warming and no one to worry about an ice age... or, at the least, the few who are left will be sure of adequate fossil fuels.

Here's to Gil "The Arm" Hamilton!


zdas04 (Mechanical)
8 Jan 08 12:33
Too funny, it really is a shame that Niven doesn't write anything that good anymore.

KENAT (Mechanical)
8 Jan 08 12:52
Hmm, waste to energy crematoriums...

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

IAAWVU05 (Mechanical)
8 Jan 08 13:28
There a few problems with burning people, as there is with burning excrement or other forms of biomass.  There is too much moisture.  You would have to spend a lot of energy or time (either way it amounts to $$) just to get the moisture content down to ensure better results, especially for gasification.  

Besides that, here are some other effects (before making jaywalking punishable by death) beneficial or not:

Human traficking would be legalized and encouraged.

US borders would be covered in sniper towers to meet the energy needs of California and other border states.  

Population of third world countries would go down because energy goes to the highest bidder, and the losers become the energy supply.  

Interesting future...
jmw (Industrial)
8 Jan 08 13:39
Yes, well, there is a flaw in my idea....the food or fuel debate....
Biofuels are already pushing food prices up significantly and we could just as easily starve.

As we know, when it comes to shortages there are no taboos to strong to be broken... ask the Donner Party... or the Andes plane crash survivors.

Actually, both parties opted to eat rather than heat. But maybe they didn't realise they had a food or fuel choice... human bodies burn quite well using the "wicking" principle.
This is apparently the real cause of "spontaneous combustion" being that a clothed human (live or dead at the start) will slow burn like a candle with remarkably effective conversion of the body to heat. In an experiment with a pork carcass they discovered they could emulate the complete combustion, bones and all (it was the bones problem that confused early efforts to find an answer).

Re Niven: responsible for some of the best science fiction (e.g. the Gateway Series).
The Gil Hamilton series appears either to have acted as a blueprint for the modern organ transplant business or was extremely prophetic. This is for me one of the most important roles of science fiction, to take a basic concept and ask "what if?" Niven seems to be good at providing the answers (or asking the right questions).


jmw (Industrial)
9 Jan 08 15:02
Synchronicity, that's what it must be. (or Deja vu? or something else?)
Obviously the time is right for the idea. PS, don't forget all those animals out there too. Perhaps we will measure animal fuel in hamsters? (One adult human equals 200 hamsters of energy) And what else is there? well, the NHS in the UK is muttering about not treating obese people and even GPs may refuse to see obese people. Ergo, obese people (the best fuel) will now suffer the highest death rates and we can quickly see the Human fuel idea grow. Pretty soon we'll have CcHP (Combined Cremation, heating and power) with crematoria the new power stations at the centre of district heating schemes.


csd72 (Structural) (OP)
9 Jan 08 16:01
This line of discussion is starting to sound very solvent green. Now that movie is a depressing prediction of the consequences of global warming.
KENAT (Mechanical)
9 Jan 08 16:34
Well given that the wick effect works better with more fat then I can see it working.

On the TV show I saw of it (sounds like the same one as jmw), the only part of the pig left were its trotters.  They believed this was due to the limited fat content.  However someone really obese might have cankles so problem solved.

However this has all got a bit gruesome for me so I think I'll get out of it before I say something I come to regret, if it's not too late.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

jmw (Industrial)
9 Jan 08 18:37
For something on SSRC we must thank Junkscience:
be sure to follow the links.


jmw (Industrial)
9 Jan 08 18:49
For something on SHC: visit How Stuff Works which links to the BBCs QED program which may be where you and I both saw it.


KENAT (Mechanical)
9 Jan 08 18:54
QED sounds right, I think I saw it before I moved out to the States.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

jmw (Industrial)
13 Jan 08 7:41
I guess I should have kept quiet.

Maybe just mentioning the concept of human fuel was enough to trigger the reality.
I was about to add a clever remark about how truly apt would be the well worn phrase "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." but such is the power of words that I now understand why the dead cannot be named in some cultures nor why Jeh***'s name cannot be spoken (or taken in vain... see The Life of Brian, the stoning scene and why some things are best left unsaid, why some people cannot bring themselves to open all those "final demand" letters as if opening them will make the grim truth a reality, a sort of Shroedinger's cat in real life where saying the unspeakable opens the box and makes a new reality.

Thus, in quick succession to my original post about human fuel we had the news of crematoria warming the mourners with the heat from the cremated and now another dead cat:

In the Niven books about organ donors, a donor card was necessary to opt out of organ donating. Without the card one was assumed to consent to organ donation.... the Reader's Digest approach.....("to receive this book you need do nothing! It will be sent to you shortly. If you do not wish to keep it, then all you have to do is return it (at your own expense)... you know the psychology) i.e. implied consent.

Today you can carry a card that says you are happy for your organs to be taken for transplanting. Without this express consent, the consent of the relatives must be sought.

Alas, on the radio today I hear that Gordon Brown (AKA the Brun, AKA the Prime minister of the UK) is to propose that patients who die in hospital will be harvested for their organs unless they specifically have declared that they do not wish this.

We now step into the future, Larry Niven's future of [b]implied consent]/b]. It is not a prospect to be enjoyed.
sunshine and which is the next dead cat we will encounter?

Of course, an NHS hospital is no place to be if you are sick and the longer you are there the more likely you are never to leave. On the other hand, those of us who smoke, are obese etc. can hope to gain preferential admission to hospital but only so as to bring us within the reach of the harvester, the grim reaper (AKA Gordon Brown.

It is now but a short step for the useless remains to the crematoria and a timely piece of legislation that will deny us a choice as to whether we are buried or cremated.

I wonder how Niven feels about all this?



toothless (Mechanical)
24 Mar 08 10:24
Has anyone else noticed that the term "global warming" is being changed to "climate change"?  That way, regardless of which way the temperature goes, the greenies are right.  They can blame any adverse weather on man and industry.  Of course they ignore the fact that the weather cycles over long periods of time (remember the ice age?)
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
24 Mar 08 11:30

there is actually a logical explanantion of this. Due to the thermal circulation around the earth there are actually some places that will get colder while the rest get warmer.

Although the average temp will  increase.

Some mp3 lectures:
garrettk (Geotechnical)
24 Mar 08 15:24
Not to throw a bucket of cold water on global warming alarmists, but reading this article gives the impression that some of the very basic concepts of global warming may be incorrect.

I understand it is only one article, but when the ocean temperatures become slightly cooler over a 4 or 5 year period some rethinking of global warming should take place.  This is especially true when you combine this information with resarch showing the impacts solar cycles have on earths environment and how many of the land based weather stations have skewed data due to local development.

Suprisingly it is reported on NPR.

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
24 Mar 08 16:14
You skeptics will cling to any piece of information you can.

There is a lot more complexity to the science that is not covered in this article.

1. The oceans tend to act as the circulation for heat throughout the planet with the oceans tending to move the heat towards the poles. Hence the poles recieve the majority of the effect of warming.

2. addition of melting ice to the oceans can have effects in far greater proportion than the cause. For example in europe some of the glaciers melted in the alps sending a large amount of fresh water down into the mediteranean, this water covered the warm water circulating from the equator and caused a mini ice age in europe during the middle ages.

This is a very complex issue, and it is no surprise that the scientists disagree (they disagree on everything) but the vast majority agree that there is an issue and something needs to be done.
garrettk (Geotechnical)
24 Mar 08 18:14
csd72 - There seems to be enough pieces to 'cling to' lately that it makes sense to re-examine the concepts.  

The analysis that started the global warming movement has been shown to be wrong (debunking of the hockey stick graph).  Unfortunately, the original analysis was kept secret for so long that the mass movement was too far along to be kept in check.  You'll recall that the guy who did the original work refused to share his research for a peer review.

While not expressly stating it, the article on NPR raises the question of are the researches forcing the square peg into the round hole.  They certainly didn't get the answers they expected (or wanted?) and are now looking for reasons the numbers are wrong instead of considering an alternative hypothesis.

You're absolutely right that this is a complex issue, but I question the 'vast majority' and 'concensous' statements tossed around so easily.  There are plenty of peer reviewed papers that bring serious questions to the table. What I find suprising (and disheartening) is how quickly global warming followers quickly dismiss any shred of evidence that may prove them to be wrong.

The climate has been changing for many millions of years, why should we not expect it to change now.  
zdas04 (Mechanical)
24 Mar 08 19:19
Yep, us "skeptics" will continue to cling to data that supports our position.  The people who believe that climate change is caused by human activity will cling to any emotional argument that sells lectures.

The "vast majority of scientists agree that there is an issue and something needs to be done" (a contention that I heartily disagree with), is just more emotional baggage that doesn't add value to the argument.  I have seen considerable solid data that supports the conclusion that the climate is changing--and has been in a constant state of flux since the planet cooled from a gas cloud.  What I haven't seen is physical evidence that this change is anthropogenic.  If we didn't cause the "problem" then it is very unlikely that our activities will have a significant impact on its "solution".

Tomfh (Structural)
25 Mar 08 0:15
What concerns me is how many skeptics appear to base their opinions on television programs.

Any mention of "solar cycles" or whatnot is a dead giveaway.

I'd expect better from engineers.
Helpful Member!  vc66 (Mechanical)
25 Mar 08 8:28
The Ice Ages (there have been many) -

Do you think that we caused them?

Did they involve HUGE climate changes?

Could the opposite (global warming, or whatever you'd like to call it) happen without the human race having anything to do with it?

I'd say so.


jmw (Industrial)
25 Mar 08 8:53
Oh dear,
at least csd72 now admits that there is disagreement..


it is no surprise that the scientists disagree
, for a long time it has been a tenet of the global warming theorists that there was a "consensus" among scientists.Of course, as others point out, science isn't about consensus anyway, but it was a handy stick used to beat at the sceptics.

Now what is wrong with solar cycles? Considering that the sun is where we get our energy I'd be very surprised if it didn't have something to do with our weather and I'd be even more surprised if, by the time you take into account all the various factors of planetary orbits and solar activity, that it should be thought of as giving an absolutely constant output. No, engineers wouldn't expect that it is constant and I don't see why we should not consider even the slightest possibility that the sun might affect our climate. Of course, we'll have plenty of time to find out because according to NASA and others the sun is gong into one of those cycles right now.
(two links because though they appear the same, there are two different pages originally found...) and of course, we can rely on the BBC for the contrary view:
And a link to NASA:


csd72 (Structural) (OP)
25 Mar 08 9:02

I understand the not beyond reasonable doubt attitude, but I do believe it has been shown on the balance of probability.



On the lighter side:
My university Civil Engineering society had a T-shirt one year, the front had a globe and the words 'save the planet' One the back was the same globe encased in a cube with the words 'encase it in concrete'.

zdas04 (Mechanical)
25 Mar 08 9:52
Where has it "been shown on the balance of probability"?  I have been looking at all the data I could lay my hands on for 5 years and I keep seeing "... data shows ... " some change in the physical world and then leaps without justification to "we must reduce industrial greenhouse gas production".  

The thing that I have never seen is a credible, non-ambiguous link between human activities and measurable changes in the global climate.  If the polar ice caps are receding (and for every study that says they are, there is another that says they're advancing), then they are receding--that doesn't prove that human sources of CO2 have any part of the cause.

If the level of the ocean (a very difficult measurement that doesn't have consensus on basic techniques) is rising, then it is rising--I don't see any data that links the rise to human activities.

I have never claimed that the climate is not changing, it is now and has always been in flux.  My problem is that rather than focusing on shifting human society to better cope with inevitable change we are vilifying industry and imposing Draconian restrictions on industrial activity to "slow the change".  This is irresponsible and seriously counter productive.  If the planet is warming significantly and the ice caps are melting, then we shouldn't be rebuilding New Orleans because it will become insupportable with mean high tides increasing several feet.  If the planet is entering another ice age then we should be focusing industrial effort in improving energy efficiency far beyond the current lip service.

garrettk (Geotechnical)
25 Mar 08 9:57

I'd expect more from an engineer than to ignore the 500lb gorilla that sits in the room next to them.  That 500lb gorilla is the sun, the largest energy source impacting the earth.

These are not a television shows:;294/5549/2130

The abstract for the second link is pretty direct in saying small variations in the suns energy have large impacts on the earth.  

Toastie (Mechanical)
26 Mar 08 8:55
Personally I say both sides are right to an extent
1. The earth does go through cycles of warming and cooling
2. The crap humans put out in the air is amplifying its effects

The main question that should be asked is where the humans here will be intelligent enough to take steps to reduce their impact on the planet or just say to hell with it and let out children ride the ship on down
toothless (Mechanical)
26 Mar 08 9:02
What humans are we talking about that should "take steps"?  the way I see it, only the U.S. and Europe will even make an attempt (translate that to spend money) whereas China, India, Africa, . . . . aren't going to do a thing.  Will that help?
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
26 Mar 08 9:20
China,India and Africa have a very good point. The majority of the pollution so far was put there by the rich western countries, in fact is a byproduct of why they became rich.

The up and comming countries would have an even greater hurdle to overcome if they have to implement the same stringent measures during their industrialisation.

Where would the western countries be if, during the industrial revolution, they were told "you cant use coal until you find a way to stop it polluting".

If the USA bites the bullet and signs the kyoto protocol(and ratifies it) then the other countries will no longer have an excuse. At the moment it is just a case of "do as I say, not as I do".
jmw (Industrial)
26 Mar 08 10:45
In Europe and North America sulphur has been largely removed from fuels but the IPCC cannot say if, in total, SOX emissions have increased decreased or stayed the same between 1980 and 2002.
In short, we don't know how much reliance to place on the inventories of pollution for the various nations.

By the way, removing SOX locally makes some sense because it is considered a particulate and believed to have some health impact. I say believed because in the report on "long term exposure to air pollution, effect on mortality"
There is a section devoted to SOX which suggests our knowledge is far from satisfactory yet major policy decisions are taken none the less.
At the same time the link between particulates and global chilling is now suddenly well received (once they twigged they could claim it was actually masking the full effects of AGW) and there are now proposals for using artillery and missiles to inject Sulphur into the upper atmosphere or, more recently, suggestions of artificial volcanoes.

Environmentalists seem prepared to advocate any extremes to remove NOX and SOX, particularly SOX, even at the expense of extra CO2. Senator Boxer is proposing unilateral legislation to mandate distillate only fuel for ships even though the extra refining may increase CO2 and without considering Senator Vittor's comment that all that will happen is that shipping will divert to Mexico and goods will come across the border by road and rail... increasing COX and NOX and without the benefit of the river system for distribution.

There is too much ill-informed propaganda out there which is fuelling potentially counter-productive legislation....
"the road to hell is paved with good intentions." and bad propaganda.
Oceana says, for example, "a switch to distillate fuels (for shipping) would drastically cut pollution including NOX which is a powerful greenhouse gas." (near as I recall the quote, it may not be exact).

NOX from shipping is around 3% of the the fossil fuel combustion which is 1% of anthropogenic NOX, most from agriculture and biomass burning, and anthropogenic NOX is around 15 terra tons of NOX (form bacteria and electrical storms mostly) compared to 2 terra tons of anthropogenic NOX.

Note how the Environmentalist websites seem to be harmonised... not difficult when for whichever solution they oppose, they back all the alternatives. Oceana and FOE, fo example, were proposing (still are I suppose) a tax on Bunker fuel but both adapted to a call for distillates only.
The "voluntary" speed reduction in California waters is supposed to help reduce pollution. It actually means increased shipping since it takes longer to deliver the same  cargoes. Sure, speed reductions will help but sensibly arranged. Of course, many of the measures lead to increased size of vessels which then doesn't suit Seaflow who are concerned about underwater noise.

All laudable concerns but sometimes treating the symptoms isn't the best way forward nor is treating problems in isolation or unilaterally.

The temperature data used to promote the AGW scenario is increasingly suspect and is coming under considerable scrutiny. Some say the tampering with the data is tantamount to fraud. Some say the bristle cone pine data is unreliable and should not have been included. Some suggest the temperature data "corrections" are of greater magnitude than the forecast change and investigation of the recording sites is revealing that many US sites do not meet specification as they have become urbanised.
So, am I supposed to roll over and bow to the findings of some very dubious science?


PBroad (Mining)
26 Mar 08 11:57
The planet is enjoying more mild and balmy temperatures, and the ice caps around the south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row. So says Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia.

However, he is not talking about planet Earth, but rather about Mars.(this info has been in the public domain for more than a year)

If anyone believes that this has a human cause would they like to explain it to me in words that I can understand.

If two neighboring planets are both getting warmer isn't it logical that there is a common cause?  Obviously those who believe in the religion that human influence on our environment is more important than the hand of God, think that man can do anything.

KENAT (Mechanical)
26 Mar 08 12:04
It's Mars rovers fault.  Weeling around for longer than planned they've affected Mars climate.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

Helpful Member!  josephv (Mechanical)
26 Mar 08 13:37

'A rise in wind-swept dust on Mars is causing more heat from sunlight to be absorbed by the planet's surface, leading to rising temperatures, according to a study published in the British journal Nature... On Mars, one of the key factors in planetary warming is the change caused by the darkening of its surface, according to the team led by NASA planetary scientist Lori Fenton.'

KENAT (Mechanical)
26 Mar 08 13:57
Yeah but what's kicking up the dust, it's them mars rovers shooting across the planet at crazy speeds, I'm telling you.

Bet Al would agree with mewinky smile.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

521AB (Electrical)
26 Mar 08 15:41
Unfortunately (or fortunately) i don't think we, humans, are so powerful to change the climate on the our planet.
We don't even know how many animals are leaving on this planet, and don't even know what we have 10 km under our feet..

Unotec (Chemical)
26 Mar 08 15:57
Other idea: Stop drinking milk. One of the biggest deforestation activities are grasslands for milking cows. Oh, and apparently, milk is not that good for children either. Ask yourself, would you drink dog milk? Why cow then? Both are allien to us.

<<A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a true friend
will be sitting beside you saying ” Damn that was fun!” - Unknown>>

moltenmetal (Chemical)
27 Mar 08 8:58
521AB:  we're powerful enough to double the concentration of one of the normal constituents of our atmosphere.  

We were also powerful enough to de-forest vast tracts of land on just about every continent for the purposes of agriculture, fuel and other wood uses.  We've made innumerable other changes to the ecosystems on the planet that you can see from space, much less in your own backyard.

Why then would you consider us incapable of affecting the climate, for good or bad?

I'll concede that the climate is sufficiently complex that we cannot know anything about it with analytical certainty.  But the fact that the vast majority of those who actually STUDY the climate for a living are of the opinion that we are PROBABLY affecting the climate in an essentially irreversible way, is evidence enough for me that action to mitigate this risk is necessary.  This whole issue is about risk mitigation- no different than any other situation where we engineers have to deal with uncertainty.  The option of just carrying on with the status quo and seeing what happens wouldn't be considered adequately protective in anything else we engineers do:  so why should we take this approach with the earth's climate?
vc66 (Mechanical)
27 Mar 08 9:52
I love the words "vast majority"...

Tell me, how many people actually study climate for a living? I'll give you a star if you have the answer ± 100.


moltenmetal (Chemical)
27 Mar 08 11:38
vc66 I have no more idea how many climate scientists there are and don't really care.  Should I?  Are you claiming that there are only five of them and they're all in cahoots or something?

"the vast majority of those who study the climate for a living" doesn't satisfy you?  OK, how about "the vast majority of climate scientists who report their results in peer-reviewed journals".  Does that satisfy you?
jmw (Industrial)
27 Mar 08 12:19
Interesting discussion on the radio the other day about "conservation".
There was much debate about what it is we are trying to conserve, forests being one of the topics and the country in question being the UK. Oh dear, it depends on which time you want to take as your datum. From the last Ice age we have been through tundra, birch pine and oak. We've been forested and then not forested.
The most recent time we as people made the most difference to forestation was during the Napoleonic wars when oak was felled for ships.

Most of the UK woodland is cultivated.
By the way, don't expect trees in all the forests because forest was originally a term for a hunting preserve (of the king). Much is and was moorland.
Pretty much every aspect of the UK's countryside has been managed in some way or other for some time and well before the modern industrial era.

At one time, during the Roman occupation, the climate favoured cultivation of vines for wine. There appears to be a resurgence at the moment but the weather may count against it again as we have had the coldest spell for 44 years.

To oppose or question the claims for Anthropogenic Global Warming does not mean we live in denial. It means that what is proposed to combat AGW is a huge undertaking and that we really need to get it right. But irreversible? not a term I'd apply to the climate, changeable, yes. Can we ever revert to some other time? I doubt it. Do we risk irreversible damage to society and the economy? yes. We get it wrong and we may not be able to recover.

Should we suspect the AGW claims? on the basis of the data, absolutely. It grows ever more suspect day by day.


vc66 (Mechanical)
27 Mar 08 13:57
moltenmetal- I'm not saying there are only 5... I'm saying that there are just as many scientists opposing AGW as are supporting it. I'm not saying it's not possible. I'm saying it's suspect.

And until I get indisputable scientific evidence supporting it, I don't buy it.


rtmote (Structural)
27 Mar 08 15:17
No one has mentioned the predicted pole shift change (2012) hich will render mute 'global warming' and reinforce 'climate change' label; this shift will really screw up the weather predictions. Wasn't this the source of the last ice age, turning the safari Siberia to Tundra wasteland?

Robert Mote

Helpful Member!  ivymike (Mechanical)
27 Mar 08 23:53
But irreversible? not a term I'd apply to the climate, changeable, yes. Can we ever revert to some other time? I doubt it. Do we risk irreversible damage to society and the economy? yes. We get it wrong and we may not be able to recover.

Oh come off it... any argument you use to justify calling the environment changeable but not damageable applies just as well to the economy.  You can't damage it, you can only change it so that in the future it is in a state you find less favorable than today's.  It's not damaged, just different.  It's already different than it used to be, so what's a little more change?

zdas04 (Mechanical)
28 Mar 08 6:03
Comparing the climate to the economy is much like comparing the ocean to a toilet bowl.  That dog ain't going to hunt.

moltenmetal (Chemical)
28 Mar 08 8:06
I disagree with the notion that taking action on greenhouse gas emissions will automatically destroy our economies.  It will merely tie the consumer to costs we currently ALL bear collectively whether we consume these products in large or small measure.  I argue that we as engineers are particularly well placed to benefit from a world where energy can no longer be squandered wantonly.  There might actually be a PAYBACK for the engineering necessary to do things in a better, more efficient way.

Both adaptation to climate change itself and greenhouse gas mitigation measures represent risks to our standard of living if not our economies.  The difference is that we collectively will bear ANY cost that is necessary to adapt to the effects of climate change because we have no choice in the matter.

Until we all bear the full costs of our fossil fuels consumption by putting a cost on dumping stuff into the atmosphere, we WILL continue to squander this finite resource.  The market can't control our excesses at present because it receives no signal tying the consumption to the costs of the consequences:  it's the classic economic "problem of the commons".  

The risk of climate change is only one of a great number of good reasons we should try to kick our fossil energy addiction- even if it costs us dearly.  Don't kid yourself:  the status quo is costing us dearly too.

MRWilliams (Materials)
28 Mar 08 9:48
Whether or not we are causing climate change is purely academic in my opinion, we should be reserving resources and reducing pollution regardless of climate change.

Unless you plan to eat or burn (for a useful purpose) what you plant in your garden I'm afraid your not doing anything to reduce your carbon footprint, and even then your only saving in the transport your good would alternatively require. Where do you think all the carbon your plants are taking in goes when they die? The life cycle of a plant is carbon neutral, not carbon negative.

Until they are improved, hybrid cars are largely a waste of time, the resources to make them outweigh the (limited) benefits of using them. Extra weight/resources/chemicals.

Catolytic converters on cars only work once the engine is hot enough, most car journeys don't achieve this temperature and the extra weight just increases emmisions.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
28 Mar 08 13:03

Plants do act as a carbon sink, the more plants you have the more carbon can be stored in them at any given time.

This is why deforestation has achieved so much attention from the climate scientists. There are also studies in the US on how much carbon can be absorbed in a given area. Listen to the podcast in my link above - one of the last ones covers this.
jmw (Industrial)
28 Mar 08 17:33
zdas04 (Mechanical)
29 Mar 08 1:08
Whether a particular individual or corporate entity can/will/should spend capital (thereby consuming resources) to conserve resources is an economic decision that must be fit into the framework available assets and obligations.  In general, if something must be acquired, then it often makes sense to acquire it in a way that reduces the amount of resources consumed--that is sound engineering.

Today's hysteria over the possibility of anthropogenic global warming is driving people toward decisions that are far from conservative.  If a machine has a remaining life of 30 years, but the latest technology is 0.5% more fuel efficient, then it is probably irresponsible to pay the resources required to fabricate and transport the new machine simply for the marginal fuel savings--but those sorts of decisions are being made every day to capture carbon credits, meet Kyoto obligations, or some other shell game.  

In fact, when you factor in all the costs of acquiring and transporting raw materials, turning them into products suitable for device fabrication, transporting the bulk materials to the factory, converting them to finished products, and transporting those to the final consumer it is often the case that the savings will never pay back the energy used to create the new gee gaw.

I've never said that conservation is bad, it is not bad.  I've never said that fuel efficiency is bad, it is not bad.  I'm saying that spending resources to reduce our "carbon footprint" will not have a positive impact on global climate change and when you factor out the emotion it could very well have a negative impact on some aspect of the planet.

ivymike (Mechanical)
29 Mar 08 8:00
There are apparently lots of dogs that don't hunt, and people who love them anyway.

As long as yall can make your new gee gaw without playing the rules of the carbon tax game, yall probably can game the system...  

I wonder whether your well-phrased opinions on climate change will be proven wrong in your lifetime?

zdas04 (Mechanical)
29 Mar 08 11:22
The ending date of the last "little ice age" was a topic of serious academic debate for several decades.  I think that the warming/cooling cycle of 2008 will become very clear around 2050 or so.  By then I'll be proved right or wrong, but I'll personally be really dead.

I guess I'm so pasionate about this because I wrote a paper for an environmental conference in the '90s while I was working for a big Oil Company.  There was no good reason to even mention climate change, but our CEO had an axe to grind and I was forced to link my inovation to fighting Global Warming under threat of having the paper pulled (and I really wanted to see Stavanger).  I prostituted myself and made the link and have been looking for a reason not to be ashamed of that decision ever since.  I haven't found it, and while the Stavanger trip was truly memorable, it wasn't worth the angst.

ivymike (Mechanical)
29 Mar 08 11:44
bummer about the paper.  I have one out there that I'm not thrilled with either, but it wasn't like I had much choice.  It was only tangentially related to global warming, though.
zdas04 (Mechanical)
29 Mar 08 11:50
I did have a choice, but one that would have killed a trip to Norway and a later one to present the paper a second time at a big-deal company function in London.  Just too much to ask of a boy from Newton County, Arkansas.  I got great photos of those trips, but was left with an abiding skepticism about the topic.

jmw (Industrial)
29 Mar 08 14:20
I have a paper to give this May at a conference where the big topic will be, and has been for some time for the industry, pollution.

All I really want to do is present some practical hardware solutions but I can't simply do that, I necessarily have to address some of the environmental issues head on.

I have to do so in such a way that they know that I am not an expert on the environmental issues.
I will be asking some hard questions, offering up my own answers for discussion and suggesting that if the industry considers the questions to be important, that they may need to seek authoritative answers. (It is always easy to find some good questions, and anyone can do that, it is finding the answers is the tough part).

I will get to have my say, no one can say I am talking nonsense since I say it first, and I finally will get to talk about what I want to talk about.

One of the real problems with any environmental issue is that sensible debate on the issues has been all but eradicated due to the propaganda from all sides but usually most effectively and without scruples from the environmentalists, at least initially.

I guess the road to hell really is paved with good intentions. I can accept that some environmentalists are so convinced of the righteousness of their cause that they can justify to themselves some of their propaganda.
That doesn't mean I think they are justified or right, just that I can understand why they think they are while actually, I find it could be counter productive i.e. dangerously wrong headed.

In some cases where they attack a moderate solution, it  creates such confusion that instead of following one path that will achieve some results, the ensuing debate means that nothing gets done.
The fact is that in their ideal world all solutions are workable, so go for the toughest.
In the real world the toughest solutions may be so totally unworkable that nothing is achieved at great expense whereas a more moderate solution would actually deliver some tangible benefits.


zdas04 (Mechanical)
29 Mar 08 23:20
I think you said it as well as can be said

Quote (jmw):

In some cases where they attack a moderate solution, it  creates such confusion that instead of following one path that will achieve some results, the ensuing debate means that nothing gets done.

I've always hated the "anything that is not perfect is perfectly wrong" approach to the problems of the world.  I see that attitude in the Global Warming uproar and instead of trying to mitigate the impacts of the perceived climate change directions, the conversations are all about who to blame and how to punish them.

Good luck with your paper.

moltenmetal (Chemical)
31 Mar 08 7:35
What I want is for economics to actually work with relation to preserving this resource.  All this bizarre lifecycle cost arithmetic that goes on is so skewed by subsidy and the absence of a price on atmospheric dumping that even the best intentioned people have difficulty making correct decisions.

A carbon tax will fix that.

How will you know that a carbon tax is high enough?  You'll know when wind power produces vastly cheaper electricity than that produced by burning coal.  That wind power ISN'T cheaper than coal combustion should be a clear indication that our current energy market is totally FUBAR.  And YES, I already know that we can't replace 100% of our electrical needs with wind power!

If you like conservation, a carbon tax will give you that.  If you're worried about anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, it will address that too.  If you like engineering jobs, it'll give you those too.  The only place left for us to disagreem about is in relation to artificial CO2 sequestration:  a process which will necessarily REDUCE energy efficiency and hasten the consumption of fossil fuels.  As convinced as I am about the link between greenhouse gases and global warming, I'm still torn over this one.  Once the basic economics are fixed by putting a tipping charge on atmospheric emissions, we can worry about what to do in relation to CO2 sequestration.
MRWilliams (Materials)
31 Mar 08 7:52

Plants are carbon sinks when they are growing, carbon neutral when they are fully grown and carbon sources when they die. The carbon atoms don't go anywhere. Plus rotting vegiation produces methane (I think) which is 4x worse than CO2 (I think).


thats a good point, people who like to think of themselves as environmentalists usually justify themselves with unfounded arguements. I've chatted with many people who fancy themselves are part time eco warriors who really don't know what they are talking about. Sometimes the environmental consequences of a process go against "common sense". My favourite example is that wood burning power plants are "potentially" carbon neutral, all they know is that smoke is bad and make up their own assumptions.
jmw (Industrial)
31 Mar 08 12:15
The trouble with any taxation is that generally it is addictive and what governments like to d is collect them and spend them on other things entirely. John Prescott's favourite word was "hypothecation" and he was having none of it.
There are ways and means for governments to act if they really want to supress something or simply use it as an excuse to collect tax.

If tax revenues atart to come pouring in from "carbon taxes" then the last thing the government actually wants is the population to actually stop burning fuel as this would result in a downturn in tax revenues. The nicety of judgement required is to find the optimum taxation level that maximises tax without actually discouraging the act that is taxed.
e.g. beer, petrol, cigarettes VAT etc.

In history only a few taxes have ever been dropped, dog licenses, black and white TV licences, wireless licences, window tax and the poll tax. Actually, in most cases what actually happened is that the government found alternative ways to get the same or more money. The window tax wasn't too clever because people just bricked in a few windows. ergo the government found a new tax to levy before they started building houses without windows a all.

Taxation is a substitute for a real policy.


csd72 (Structural) (OP)
31 Mar 08 22:58
KENAT (Mechanical)
31 Mar 08 23:06
csd, now you've gone and done it.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

moltenmetal (Chemical)
1 Apr 08 8:39
jmw:  I'd be delighted if the revenue from the carbon tax was at least in part used to offset some other taxes not related directly to consumption.  But it would be most effective if the tax were dedicated to helping people kick their fossil fuels addiction.  A fossil fuel tax high enough to be effective would certainly be able to offset a significant portion of the income taxes most of us pay, until we adjusted our consumption patterns.  

I don't know about you, but I really dislike being personally taxed on my revenue while businesses are taxed on their PROFIT!  I'd rather people were taxed on what they consume.

Yes, governments still need to function, so they'd shift the tax burden back again to other things after their revenues dropped.

Yeah, I know that politicians don't DO dedicated taxes.  They lump everything into general revenue so they have "control" over how it's spent.  Unfortunately it all has to compete with schools and hospitals, and hence the schools and hospitals win out over the public transit projects and the programs to retrofit the public housing with electric comfort heating and bad windows etc.  But as I've said before, a tax would STILL be effective at deterring wasteful consumption even if governments just piled the tax money on the ground and BURNED it.  People would make the necessary investments or lifestyle changes because there would be a payback, whereas now we're relying on peoples' sense of morality or collective responsibility to address the problem.  The results are predictable.

So:  if conservation is important to you, global warming or no, how would YOU motivate people to conserve, given that you don't like taxes as a means to do so?
Helpful Member!(2)  Zapster (Electrical)
1 Apr 08 11:56
moltenmetal, how would you propose to implement a carbon tax while keeping businesses competitive with other nations that do not have a carbon tax.  Would you give an exemption for business; hence another tax break for businesses or would you rather see the reduction in manufacturing jobs go to countries without the tax?  Or the worst yet is to enable a world government to control our lives so everyone on the planet is subject to the whims and taxes of the United Nations.  Can you imagine the resulting corruption by giving power and money, of this magnitude, to the United Nations?

What would such a tax do to the travel industry?  Raise the cost of airfare?  Limit the ability of the poorest segment of a country to travel.  Force many folks that do not have access to mass transit into financial hardship.  

I believe I see where this may be going.  If you are rich and can afford the carbon tax, then it is OK if you pollute my air.

If you are a developing nation and are poor, then it is OK if you pollute my air and take away our manufacturing jobs.  
KENAT (Mechanical)
1 Apr 08 12:09
Or Zapsta you could have a carbon tariff on imports from countries that don't meet the necessary Carbon Emision standards.

However this also has problems, it will upset the NAFTA fans if nothing else.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
1 Apr 08 12:47
I think Kenat hit the nail on the head, such a tax should apply to both domestically produced goods and to imports. This is the only fair way to do it.
vc66 (Mechanical)
1 Apr 08 13:05
So the one or two countries who decide to do that are COMPLETELY alienated (export-wise) from the rest of the countries who don't have a carbon tax.

Take the USA for example. If we imposed a high carbon tariff, do you think BMW would still sell M3s or M5s here? No, they'd pull the line from the USA, and put more into countries without the tariff, like say, China?

For it to be REALLY fair, ALL countries would have to impose it... good luck with that one. World Government, here we come.

I agree that that's the way to do it, but it's impossible, because we're human.


KENAT (Mechanical)
1 Apr 08 13:12
VC66, I doubt BMW would pull out over something like that, luxury vehicles can probably add the cost to their price without significant change in sales.  

The US market is massive and within reason people selling into it will put up with that kind of stuff.

Plus given the fuel taxes etc. in Europe I'd expect most (Western) European countries would meet the necessary carbon emission standards.

There are problems with the idea but I don't think yours are good examples.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

moltenmetal (Chemical)
1 Apr 08 15:46
We tried to implement at least SOME kind of international compensation system in the form of Kyoto.  Unfortunately, too few ratified it and some, like Canada, chose to ratify but NOT actually implement it since the US, amongst others, didn't sign on.  Many developed nations also argued that the money they were forced to give to developing nations (to keep China from building another coal fired electric plant every week,,for instance) would be better spent reducing their own consumption.  Of course, we developed nations on the whole spent (and did) precious little to reduce our own consumption.

If a country or a trading block like the EU was going to try to do this, they'd need to put a carbon tax on imports from countries without a carbon tax or they'd definitely gut their own industry AND service export sectors- in the short term, until the dividends of not having to export so much of their treasury every year to the countries who won the geological fossil fuels lottery really kicked in.  They would REMAIN as a market, so people would STILL want to sell to them.

As to the notion that the rich would have a right to pollute, that's no different than it is NOW.  Right now we all bear the consequences and costs of the conspicuous consumption of some, regardless how much capital and effort and personal sacrifice we invest personally to minimize our own consumption.  As long as nobody pays a tipping fee for discharging sh*t into the atmosphere, your consumption patterns become my business.  Pay the full and fair cost of your consumption, including a disincentive cost (ie. a carbon tax) to help others who care to reduce THEIR costs by reducing their consumption, and your HumV or your McMansion or your ten kids are no longer my business.  Trust me, I really don't WANT to CARE how many kids you have, or what kind of vehicle or house you own.  I just don't want to be saddled with any of the cost of your choices.
Zapster (Electrical)
2 Apr 08 0:11
As to the notion that the rich would have a right to pollute, that's no different than it is NOW.

Nice thought but that is not the way it works when you start to look at disposable income.  Place a carbon tax on fuel in a society that does not overly tax their fuel, such that there are no other reductions in taxes, and you will quickly see that it is the poor that you are hurting.  The rich can still afford as much fuel as desired because it is such a small percentage of their disposable income.  With your plan, carbon footprint tax, you would be depriving the segment of the population with the least amount of money equal access to the world’s resources.  I know, once you place the carbon footprint tax, then you can take the money you get and subsidize the poor so they can commute to work.  I really do not care for more government control of the redistribution of my money.

And trying to place an import tax on countries that do not have a carbon footprint tax is a joke.  How well did the oil-for-food program work?  An import tax for countries without a carbon footprint tax will start a whole new shell game of illegal imports.  These goods will not be traceable but instead will look like the country of origin is playing by the rules; those who play by the rules will lose.
moltenmetal (Chemical)
2 Apr 08 9:10
zapster:  the people who will benefit most from well-served and cheap public transit are the poor.  They can't AFFORD cars or the gas to fuel them even at current prices.

The poor people in the developed world are not poor because of transportation costs, or even heating and electricity.  They're poor because most of their income goes to paying rent.  That's due to the cost of property and of property taxes which have virtually nothing to do with the cost of fuel.  These have far more to do with how much disposable income YOU have than they do with anything else.  

The costs of improving the energy efficiency of public housing will be paid from taxes regardless.  As we invest in these improvements, we'll reap the benefit of lower operating costs (which we also pay for via taxes). Personally I'd prefer that tax money to come from taxes on fuels than from income tax- at least that way, through proper behaviour and investment I can do something about what proportion of that cost I pay.

You can no more effectively deal with poverty by de-facto subsidizing fuel consumption than you can solve hunger by subsidizing food.  You solve poverty by giving money to the poor and letting them figure out how they want to spend it.  And you encourage people to work by ensuring that working gives you a better lifestyle than staying on welfare can provide.  Different methods to solve these problems are tried by different societies, with varying degrees (and measures) of success.  But as Jesus said, the poor will always be with us.

The poor also disproportionately bear the costs of adapting to climate change, and the impacts of non-greenhouse pollution as well.  They live closest to the industrial areas and the freeways.  They're the ones who get displaced from flooded lands etc.  When your kid develops asthma, your healthcare plan covers drugs and doctor visits- their kids suffer and sometimes die.

"I really do not care for more government control of the redistribution of my money".  OK, you don't like taxes:  what other suggestions have you got?  Or are you arguing for the continuation of the status quo?

Tarrifs will work better than NO TARRIFS are currently working.  The US and Canada are bleeding jobs to China where the dirtiest practices make the most money and a new coal-fired electric plant is commissioned every week.  Unless we get a handle on that, nothing we do at home will have anything other than symbolic value.

zdas04 (Mechanical)
2 Apr 08 10:57
This discussion has devolved into engineers talking about world economics and tax policy.  I think the last dozen or so posts are really good examples of why engineers make lousy politicians and even worse economists--we want every problem to have a solution.

This one doesn't.  There is no combination of policy, taxes, and tariffs that make the playing field flat.  If there were a "solution", people and countries seeking greater advantage would pervert it very quickly.  The oil-for-food example above is a perfect illustration--honorable people with the very best of intentions devised a plan that turned into the biggest rip off in history.

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
2 Apr 08 13:23
It seems most people in this discussion are from the US, so I will base my comments on that country.

Americans(i.e. from the US) are, on the majority, so incredibly anti tax that they will come up with any arguement against it.
Increasing the cost of goods by a few percent has no comparison to the cheap cost of labour in places like India and China. In 2006 the average chinese income was $2025 per year, no comparison to US salaries, so if the couple of percent is going to make a difference then I guarantee you they have already been looking into sending it offshore.

The exact same arguements were used against environmental protection laws, but the country got over it.

Carbon tax is not about penalising companies for their pollution, it is about paying a decent and fair price for the cost of the production. Capitalism is not a perfect system, sometimes it needs a little prodding to ensure that those that create the problems pay a fair price to subsidise the rectification. This is one of the main reasons we need government.
KENAT (Mechanical)
2 Apr 08 13:35
So anti tax that they had a war about it that let to the founding of the USA in the first placewinky smile.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

josephv (Mechanical)
2 Apr 08 14:08
It’s time that we put the oil for food program into proper perspective. The label “biggest rip-off in history” came from politicians who wanted to discredit the UN, but at the same time wanted to ignore the role their own countries played in this scandal. I can think of bigger rip-offs, for example most of the illicit income that Saddam’s regime received came from oil smuggling and had nothing to do with the program. This oil was smuggled into our allies Turkey and Jordan. Now our governments either completely missed this fact (i.e. were incompetent) or decided to look the other way while this was happening (i.e. were corrupt). Either way it is bad new for us.

Secondly, I strongly believe that it is important for engineers to participate in these types of discussions. To say that talk of economics and policy only belongs to one group of people and not to another one strikes me as elitist (i.e. “we know what is best for the people attitude”). I know you did not actually say this, David, but there are some people who think that way and I completely disagree with them. Final note, we need to expand these debates not narrow them down.
moltenmetal (Chemical)
2 Apr 08 14:55
David:  that's what you get when you ask a technical person to solve a problem which CANNOT have a technical solution until the economics etc. are properly addressed.

What p*sses me off royally is that politicians assume we'll invent our way out of this one too- and that engineers are only too willing to be amongst the snake-oil salesmen telling them that it's possible to do so.  Makes me sick to my stomach, really, for my kids' sake.
vc66 (Mechanical)
3 Apr 08 8:21
Star for you, moltenmetal. Good point!

When politicians and corporations are the one's who ultimately cause problems, they then expect someone else (engineers) to fix it.


moltenmetal (Chemical)
3 Apr 08 9:35
vc66:  reminds me of the old chestnut about the guy in the hot air balloon.  He's lost, so he calls down to someone he sees on the ground below and says, "Hey buddy, can you tell me where I am?".  The guy on the ground replies, "You're in a hot air balloon, about 10 metres above the ground, and you're at about such and such degrees and so many minutes latitude and longitude".

The guy in the balloon says, "You wouldn't happen to be an engineer, would you?"

"Why yes, I am- how did you know?" he replies.

"Because you gave me an answer which is no doubt absolutely technically correct and accurate, but which is absolutely NOT helpful!" retorts the balloonist.

"Hmm- you must be either a manager or some other kind of politician!"  replies the guy on the ground.

"Why yes, I am- how did you know?"  asks the balloonist.

"Because YOU asked ME for help, and I gave it to you as best I could.  I didn't put you in or alter your situation one bit, but somehow now you seem to think it's MY FAULT!"
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
12 Apr 08 13:39
I've been gone awhile - in order for me to not have to read all 205 previous posts, can anyone tell me if there was any actual, real, evidence posted here that global warming is happening and will be a bad thing?

Thanks in advance...
electricpete (Electrical)
13 Apr 08 12:02
The results of the most comprehensive review of your complex question that mankind has undertaken are given here:

Eng-tips forums: The best place on the web for engineering discussions.

zdas04 (Mechanical)
13 Apr 08 12:47
Or not.

Read the thread.

joshua0977 (Mechanical)
13 Apr 08 21:20
Actually there are many scientists that believe the converse is happening and that Global cooling is more prevelant and dangerous than warming.  Crops will not have the seasonal growing temperatures needed during their germination stage.
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
13 Apr 08 22:54
Ummm... If the IPCC is the best you can do, you need some education.  They're in it for the money.

So, why have exactly zero GCM's predicted this:

On the other hand, since snow has a higher albedo than low clouds, this concept does predict it:

GregLocock (Automotive)
14 Apr 08 2:36
Coincidentally I've just read a book of Feynman's lectures. In one of them he discusses Cargo Cult science. It has a spooky resonance with the global warming cult.



Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

jmw (Industrial)
14 Apr 08 5:43
Yeah, we've been there, cargo cult, Lysenkoism, religious beliefs dressed up as "science", the theocracy of Anthropogenic Global Warming.

I begin to think we just blame Al Gore and take him and Pippa out and introduce them to Mr. Vigillante (she's the one who wanted to ban rock an' roll or heavy metal or something. These guys are serious fruit cakes) or find them something useful to do with their lives, like answering spam mail. I do hope we get to hold them accountable sometime, and soon.


KENAT (Mechanical)
14 Apr 08 11:29
jmw, it was Tipper not Pippa.  Dee Snider of Twisted Sister or other Rock/Metal stars, maybe even John Denver may que up to the the vigilante.

Given the amount of hot air they generate maybe we should just eliminate all non essential politicians.

I'll leave it to you to each decide how many are essential.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

jmw (Industrial)
14 Apr 08 12:59
As in fly, got it, but thanks for the correction.
Seems these guys are a match made in heaven.
Think she's a fan of Sharon and Ozzie?


josephv (Mechanical)
15 Apr 08 9:57
From the BBC - Scientists have produced further compelling evidence showing that modern-day climate change is not caused by changes in the Sun's activity.
jmw (Industrial)
15 Apr 08 11:31


But UK scientists found there has been no significant link between cosmic rays and cloudiness in the last 20 years.
That was the original objection but then, others have reported on the global chilling effect which effectively masks global warmings full extent. Particulates have some interaction with cloud formation which has, they say, caused much of the climate problems in the monsoon areas etc.
Since 1980 sulphur has been removed from fossil fuels in North America and Europe. SOX was 33% anthropogenic, 30% from land based fossil fuel use. However, in the IPCC 4th report they have no idea if SOX emissions have increased or decreased over the last 22 years to 2002.
That means that any link might be obscured and we don't have the data to unmask the effect.

A big problem is that correlation is not causality and it seems to me the converse is true; the lack of an obvious correlation does not mean there is no link.

What is really needed for the solar activity link is to identify a precise mechanism that links solar activity with cloud formation or with any other atmospheric phenomena that would impact on climate change.

But it seems to me a big step from not finding the proof of solar activity having an effect on climate to saying that the sun does not have an effect. Those are two different things and just as it would suit the sceptics to find a look and to postulate that there is one, it also suits the AGW group to shout out that every failure to find the link means there is no link.

Me, I kinda think the sun has to have some role in our climate, especially today when the sun is out and the windows are open compared to last week when we had snow on the ground. So I kinda expect there to be a link but I can't say there is one.


civilperson (Structural)
15 Apr 08 17:52
     The source of cosmic rays is probably not the sun.  The quantity of solar energy impacting earth is enormous, (orders of magnitude greater than mankind's energy production from all sources).  The variability of the energy during a eleven year solar cycle has been estimated at 11-15%. This variability is also greater than all human energy production.  Anthropologic impacts on climate change are minor and it is false hubris to assume these are the main cause of climate change.
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
15 Apr 08 21:06
The relevent cosmic rays (muons) are indeed not from the sun.  The ones from the sun are not strong enough.  It takes an energy of over 10 to 15 GeV to penetrate the atmosphere and magnetic fields to get to the lower clouds.  What happens is that the solar magnetic field, loosely related to sunspot number, deflects them.  The stronger the field, the more muons are blocked, and the less of them ionize the atmosphere to enhance water droplet formation (aka clouds).  At least that's the theory.  Hers's a link:

As additional information on the veracity of solar influence, Consider that ice and snow have a higher albedo than clouds.  Therefore, fewer clouds should mean coole temps.  In the northern hemisphere that is obviously not relevent due to black carbon (soot) considerations.  However, the South Pole gives a pollution free venue to compare the relative strengths of the solar effect and CO2.  They are global, soot is a northern hemisphere phenonemon - with some secondary effects from ocean circulation.  So, the further one gets from the ocean, the more we have the two forcings battling it out:
WoodyPE (Mechanical)
18 Apr 08 6:14
I figured that the population of the human race is releasing a lot of CO2, and it is equivalent to several large power plants.  Consider that the average human being burns about 400 BTU/hr at a fairly low level of activity.  The energy is coming from carbohydrates and the end product is CO2.

There are several billions of us humans on the earth.  Hence, we should do less strenuous activity to reduce our CO2 emissions.  So if you are fat and lazy you can tell the whole world you are doing your part to reduce CO2 emissions.  winky smile
toothless (Mechanical)
21 Apr 08 16:55
I like the idea of purchasing carbon credits to offset your polluting the environment.  Maybe that idea will spread.  How about if I rob a bank of $1 million, then pay $200k for crime credits having the money go to law enforcement, crime prevention groups, burglar bars, etc.

Not a bad deal and I get to net the $800k.
ewh (Aerospace)
21 Apr 08 17:43
Works on Wall Street!

Believe it if you need it or leave it if you dare. - Robert Hunter

LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
21 Apr 08 23:05
Here's what's up with the BBC:
Investors fall short on climate risk assessment – IIGCC
London, 17 April: Investors are more aware of climate change than previously, but are failing to fully assess the risks it poses when the financial implications are not clear, according to the European investor body Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC).
In its first report of members' activities, the IIGCC found that investors are struggling to assess the risk posed by uncertainties over future climate change regulations and the physical impacts of global warming. But an increasing number of asset managers are focusing on the issue and are expanding their ability to analyse the effects of climate change.
"The IIGCC's report highlights that the investment community has come a long way in understanding and analysing the investment implications from climate change, but also that there is room for further progress from investors, companies and government," said Peter Dunscombe, chairman of the IIGCC and also the head of investments for the BBC Pension Trust.
The report also found that asset managers increasingly are looking to invest in low-carbon or clean energy funds, are working with companies to improve their disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions and are using environmental rankings or analysing climate change impacts on their whole portfolio. And around 80% of pension funds and asset owners are asking their managers to exercise their voting rights on climate change issues.
But only 30% of respondents are integrating climate change considerations when appointing fund managers or seek advice on the matter from their advisors, reports the IIGCC. Investors are also failing to engage with companies on unavoidable climate change risks and climate-friendly products.
At the time of compiling the report, which covers activities until the end of 2007, the IIGCC had 21 signatories with combined assets of €1.4 trillion ($2.2 trillion) under management. The group now has 47 members, representing €4 trillion worth of assets.  

Updated 17 April 2008

GregLocock (Automotive)
21 Apr 08 23:11
And here's some ejimacated opinion



Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

jmw (Industrial)
22 Apr 08 7:07
Well, Greg, you just know that that letter will do the trick.
The response will be:
1) vertical filing (into the waste bin with other letters from "crackpots")
2) claim they are all in the pay of the oil companies
3) massage the temperature data yet again.


josephv (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 9:43
Many of the endorsers of the Manhattan declaration have a Bachelor in Science or a Bachelor in Arts. Nothing wrong with a BA or a BSc, but these are not exactly specialists (although that is what it is being implied). The first guy in the list is an MD specializing in infectious disease. Sorry, can't see how he is a qualified endorser. There is also an expert in Cancer Studies. I am sure they are all great people, but why are they on this list?

"The following individuals, all well-trained in science and technology or climate change-related economics and policy, have allowed their names to be listed as endorsing the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change:";task=view&id=62

jmw (Industrial)
22 Apr 08 11:25
Well, let's not discount the fact that Malaria outbreaks were one of the IPCC's (misleading) claims about he perils of global warming.

If the IPCC can call on a wider variety of experts than simply climatologists, then I guess the detractors can too.

The problem with Malaria is that it is not especially a problem of warm climates and thus warming would not actually cause malaria to be a bigger problem. I believe it is quite prevalent in Siberia, come to that.

This is mentioned by Al Gore and in this article debunking him (by another "not a climatologist")


josephv (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 11:44
"Well, let's not discount the fact that Malaria outbreaks were one of the IPCC's (misleading) claims about he perils of global warming. "

This would make sense assuming Malaria is the topic, but the role of this particular MD or the other MDs is not clear.

"If the IPCC can call on a wider variety of experts than simply climatologists, then I guess the detractors can too."

Generally, a BA or a BSc is not considered to be an expert.

My apologies, the previous link does not work, here is a new one:;task=view&id=62
jmw (Industrial)
22 Apr 08 12:13


The first guy in the list is an MD specializing in infectious disease.
Er, pardon me, but the begins with:

            Amesh A. Adalja, MD,

and ends with:

            A. Zichichi, PhD,

.....and that is alphabetical is it not?

So the point is.....?

And yes, Malaria is one part of the topic.

The whole campaign about Global Warming is that it is said to be bad for us.

If it is neither good nor bad then who cares?

So it isn't just whether we believe in AGW or GW, but whether we also believe that it is good for us or bad for us.
Much of the campaign is to try and pursuade us that GW is bad for us and ergo we should do something to stop it.
If there were more money in doing something to promote global warming I wouldn't wonder that the arguments would all be slanted that way.

IPCC made a thing about malaria and Al Gore Says mosquitoes like the warmer weather and fly higher.
So it is not necessary to just understand the question of whether global warming is happening or not, whether it is caused by man (how relevant is that to the argument except to pursuade us that what we can have an impact.
We'd be in a sad way if we didn't think we could do something to regulate the climate of our own planet, because if you can't do anything there's not much point in shelling out all those taxes is there?

It is also important to know whether it is good for us or bad for us.
Our actions depend on (a) is it something we can do something about and (b) should we be doing something to promote global warming or prevent global warming?


josephv (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 12:39
Once again, the role of this particular MD or the other MDs is not clear (i.e. was it because of the Malaria claim that you outlined or was it for another reason, and if so what reason?).

You are correct to point out that the last one on the list is a PhD and a Professor in Advanced Physics (that makes sense to me). But why are all the BA's and BSc's on the list?
KENAT (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 12:48
An oncologist might be concerned that global warming will  make people wear less, go to the beach more etc and hence increase risk of skin cancer.

A lot of the nastier deseases come from warmer places, as in the term 'tropical diseases'.  So if more places are warm one assumes there simplistically there is a risk that some of these diseases will spread.  However this may be an over simplification as others note above.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

jmw (Industrial)
22 Apr 08 13:24
I just mentioned malaria as an example in response to the comment about the first person on the list being an MD in infectious diseases i.e. relevance.
I would hope there are some other specialities represented such as economists.
This is because the Global Warming issue is not a simplistic black and white issue. It touches on many other aspects.

All very well saying the planet is warming. Suggesting serious economic measures to combat it requires that we have some one on board on either side who understands something of economics. Likewise many other issues are involved. I would guess at needing, like the TV news programs, a list of diverse and esoteric specialists all on a list to be trotted out when needed.

For example, Polar bear deaths.... need a Polar Bear expert and someone who understands epidemiology.

It is a principal in legal cases that the defence can call its own specialists specifically to refute the specialists on the opposing side. Same here.

Moreover, if these different disciplines were not represented then the first people to point that out would be the opposition who would claim they couldn't otherwise understand all the issues.

A more important question would be why shouldn't any concerned group include a variety of specialisations? Don't you think it is important that they are there?



ChrisAust (Agricultural)
22 Apr 08 13:34
Would an astronautical engineer and geophysicist qualify as an 'expert'?,25197,23583376-7583,00.html
josephv (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 13:51
All good points, for example the veterinarian could be there because of the polar bear issue (it is possible I guess), or for some other reason. They certainly haven't made that clear.

And then the question still remains why all the BA's and BSc's in the list. Not to knock them, there are experts with a Bachelors or with a high school diploma, but generally they are exceptions and not the rule.
CheckerRon (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 14:33
ChristAust: Great and illuminating article by Phil Chapman. From men like him and others I've read such as astromomer Dr. Hugh Ross I have come to believe that global warming is 90% astromonical and 10% anatomical.
jmw (Industrial)
22 Apr 08 14:33
Clear and I'd sure hate to have an astronautical engineer try and take my appendix out but I might trust his insights into astronautical engineering.

Or maybe not.

Actually, that could be one of the greatest services or disservices the Global Warming debate has produced; once upon a time we were content as a population and as a whole, to trust the "experts".

Now we question them more freely and more readily than ever before, which may be a good thing, but at the same time, we now no longer know who, if anyone, to trust. That will make it a great deal harder to get along.

Wondering about "experts" our attitude to them and their attitudes to each other:



ChrisAust (Agricultural)
22 Apr 08 14:51
Experts: 'Those who know more and more, about less and less, until they know absolutely everything there is too know about nothing'.

Given the multi-disciplinary complexities of climate change, the only experts I'd really trust (regarding an overall opinion) are statisticians.
KENAT (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 15:10
Can't see myself trusting a statistician.  After all something like 70% of all statistics are made up on the spotwinky smile.


Ex as in "has been"

Spert as in "drip under pressure"

Still want to trust one?

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

zdas04 (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 15:34
The only experts I plan to trust are historians--25 years from now they should be able to tell me if the poles melted in 2010.  100 years from now they should be able to tell my decendents if California is under water.

The rest of it is simply fun with numbers and masturbation with computer models.

ChrisAust (Agricultural)
22 Apr 08 15:53
Good point zdas04, but it doesn't help today's planners much!
Speaking of planning, for all the official belief in impending climate disaster, is anybody actually designing things differently now? In my field (forestry), the 'experts' (including government land managers) generally accept the inevitablity of a 2 degree temperature rise, and predict massive industrial and ecological impacts. But is anybody planting species better suited to a new, warmer climate? Not as far as I can find. Is it the same in other fields? Is anybody working to new, warmer-climate specifications? Or do the planners not believe in it that much...
josephv (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 20:52

So using the same logic, it then follows that we should also not trust the "experts":

- at The Danish Space Research Institute
- from the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change
- Phil Chapman and Dr. Hugh Ross

That is if you are a true skeptic and apply the same standard to everyone.
GregLocock (Automotive)
22 Apr 08 21:14
Actually I can see some fairly simple explanations for that graph I posted.

a) solar output reduction
b) increased burning of coal produces atmospheric sulphates which increase Earth's albedo
c) large forest burn offs increase smoke haze which increases Earth's albedo.
d) there is no causation between global average temperature and CO2

NASA say is (a) is a tiny effect. Everyone agrees that (b) and (c) are real, it is just whether you choose to emphasise them or not. Since they don't suit the anthropogenic CO2 mantra, the IPCC prefers to underplay them. (d) speaks for itself.

One of the funniest contradictions in the IPCCs stance is that they ignore water vapor, the biggest greenhouse gas by a factor of 4, claiming that it is natural cycle and you can't do anything about it. The carbon cycle is a natural cycle, anthropogenic CO2 is a tiny (<<5%) additional input into that cycle, yet according to the new religion although the water cycle is self regulating, the C cycle is not.



Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

KENAT (Mechanical)
22 Apr 08 22:12
Yeah, I can think of a number of human activities that emit significant water vapour.

Now if it's significant compared to that evaporating off surface water I don't know.

Then again, the biggest ones I can think of are mostly closely linked to activities that also burn a lot of fossil fuels.


KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

moltenmetal (Chemical)
23 Apr 08 7:00
Aw, Greg-the water vapour canard again?!  Honestly...

Water vapour content in the atmosphere is regulated by physical equilibrium processes which are FAST.  Granted, the water cycle like all aspects of the climate is enormously complex.  What matters here is that carbon dioxide uptake processes are chemical/biological and hence vastly slower than the physical equilibria that determine how much water vapour is there to prevent IR from re-radiating into space.  The same goes for methane and the other greenhouse gases the climatologists are concerned about:  once emitted, these gases take a long time for the biosphere to re-absorb- at least a "long time" relative to how quickly we're spewing them into the atmosphere from locations where they were previously "permanently" stored!
rb1957 (Aerospace)
23 Apr 08 13:43
"i've looked at clouds from both sides now ..."
jmw (Industrial)
24 Apr 08 7:56


'Useless' green levy on drivers rakes in £4bn"
The treasuries own data,apparently.
Now, what was everyone saying about taxation?


moltenmetal (Chemical)
24 Apr 08 11:51
JMW:  gas (petrol) prices are roughly double in the UK what they are in the US and Canada, and the UK car fleet is roughly 20% more efficient than ours.  Not 50%, but 20%.  There's elasticity in the demand for motor fuels- the convenience that cars offer is worth a lot to people, and they're not done paying for that convenience.  Unfortunately, they're causing inconvenience, and worse, to people who don't even OWN cars- that's what we've got to fix.

Put the 4 billion/yr entirely into mass transit instead of into the general treasury and you'd get quite a few more people out of their cars.  Some London suburban commuters drive because even at current petrol prices it's still CHEAPER to drive than to take the trains!  

I favour carbon taxes much more than these sort of car-model levies, and I they'll work better.  But I freely agree that they too will not work if they're set too low, or if the tax system gets lobbied full of loopholes or has the rates set wrong.  And I know that politicians don't do dedicated taxes.

Again- great criticism- but have you got any better suggestions?  I don't.  Biofuels certainly aren't it.  And taxes work better at detering consumption than doing NOTHING does!
KENAT (Mechanical)
24 Apr 08 12:13
"Some London suburban commuters drive because even at current petrol prices it's still CHEAPER to drive than to take the trains!"

Molten, there are other issues than just the cost.  I tried using the train to get to work for a while when I first left university.  About once a week it seemed that one of the trains I had to catch (I had to change) would be cancelled, not just a bit late, cancelled and so I'd be stuck on a platform somewhere for 45 minutes.  That or the first train would be just late enough that I missed my second train.

Then there was the fact it made if difficult to be flexible with my hours.  It was almost impossible to get in earlier and the small station near wear I actually worked only had one or two trains per hour, less after about 6pm.  So when you took into account trying to make connections it was almost impossible for me to work late and get home in a reasonable timescale.

Now I suppose 4bn spent improving the above situation might help, but just reducing the price without improving the situation wont help much IMO.

The convenience of personal transportaion should not be underestimated.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

moltenmetal (Chemical)
25 Apr 08 7:44
KENAT: service is definitely an issue here too.  Our plant is right next to a major commuter train station but is in the suburbs.  Folks like me doing the reverse commute from the city have trouble taking the train because it's so poorly served- only two trains in the morning, and often the early one doesn't run.  Trains in the other direction are both frequent AND full, and that's good- but it's a chicken-and-egg thing:  people won't ditch their cars until the transit alternatives are in place, and they won't be built until the demand can be demonstrated.  

Fortunately, living in a city with a good public transit system, I'm the only person in the family who needs a car.  It's used more or less only for the commute.  Living near work you'd need a car to go to the corner store!

Tax the fuel and there'll be revenue to pay for more frequent transit service, new routes and better parking at the major transit hubs.  And there'll be an incentive to build renewable electrical generation capacity and electric commuter vehicles too.

It'll take generations for us to change North American cities which have been planned around the car.  The car will be with us for a long time, I'm not denying that.  But we need to make it worthwhile for people to minimize their consumption by buying smaller, more efficient vehicles, carpooling etc.  Even at $1.25 CDN/litre, most folks don't even bother to consider it.   
jmw (Industrial)
25 Apr 08 8:28
Of course, as taxation increases, so to do the expectations of employees come pay rise time; they need more money to keep up with increasing costs.
The only winner is the government which gets to collect its "green" taxes and a bonus of increased income tax.
The economy then spirals out of control.


LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
25 Apr 08 8:40
And, as can be seen in previous links on this thread, the connection between CO2 and climate change is tenuous at best at this time anyway, so the discussion of energy use and taxes (other than that climate change is the excuse to raise the taxes) is really OT.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
25 Apr 08 10:05
We just sold our car and are doing the public transport thing - it has its inconveniences but I take the time to catch on my reading and my podcasts.

We are lucky though as we live within 2 minute walk of a shopping center so we can easily walk home with our shopping. This is not really an option in some areas.

There are a large number of people in many countries that need their car to get to worrk and have no other option, the best public transport in the world probably would prevent that.
KENAT (Mechanical)
25 Apr 08 11:37
I think I've posted before that I grew up without a car till I was about 10-11.  We walked or cycled almost everywhere, on the rare long trips we took the train.   Till I was 9 we lived in walking distance of the town centre so it wasn't too much of a problem.

However, when we moved to a slightly larger newer house, (not large by American standards but big enough so my siblings and I could have our own rooms) in the suburbs not having a car was a pain.  

By this time (late 80s) they'd started building shopping centers on the edge of town etc and not having a car became a real pain.

So once my Dad got a better paying job and my sisters were old enough to start working & pay rent, then we got a car.

So I know what it's like to try and make do with only public transport, CSD good luck I hope where you are it's easier than it was for us.


KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
25 Apr 08 11:57
Yes in the US things are definately set up for people having cars.
jmw (Industrial)
25 Apr 08 20:13
And increasingly so in the UK with the superstores and retail parks following the US pattern and with industry having mobed out of town.
Time was when people lived right where they worked. Then came public transport and the bicycle,then came the car and each innovation has increased the separation.
It will be a long road back.


Helpful Member!(2)  wvphysicist (Electrical)
15 May 08 20:36
Isotopic analysis shows that the new carbon in the atmosphere came from coal and oil.  We did it.  You can't out argue 3000 top scientists with high priced oil company nonsense.

What are you going to do when all fossil fuels are outlawed?
Nature's way is mass starvation.  
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
15 May 08 21:11
wvphysicist -

You're missing the point.  Of *course* additional CO2 is produced by fossil fuel emissions, and concentrations are increasing because of it.  Approximately 40% of emissions are reflected in concentration increases.  The rest goes into the ocean and the biosphere - CO2 is, after all, the base of the food chain.

The point is, what does that CO2 do?  It's pretty well established that a doubling of CO2 will increase, withoout any other influences, 3 or 4 w/m^2 at the surface which means about 1 deg C.  However, what will that do to convection?  A 5% increase in global precipitation will completely offset that - and increased convection and evaporation *will* occur.  

Basically though, warm has always been good for mankind.  The real challenge is to prove that this time, for the first time, it will be bad.

Is wv water vapor?  We may be able to have an interesting discussion.
GregLocock (Automotive)
15 May 08 21:35
I doubt many people are still claiming that the CO2 levels have not increased, or that at least some of it is derived from fossil fuel (most atmospheric CO2 is not derived from fossil fuels, of course, despite what you seem to be trying to imply).

We just don't think it is the primary cause of global warming. Possibly some of your 3000 scientists would support that observation:

1) Dr. Roger A. Pielke, Jr. Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Colorado reacted to this study in the journal Nature by declaring: "Climate models are of no practical use." Pielke, who is not a climate skeptic, said on April 30, "There is in fact nothing that can be observed in the climate system that would be inconsistent with climate model predictions. If global cooling over the next few decades is consistent with model predictions, then so too is pretty much anything and everything under the sun. This means that from a practical standpoint climate models are of no practical use beyond providing some intellectual authority in the promotional battle over global climate policy."



Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

patdaly (Mechanical)
16 May 08 9:33
Could someone please send us some extra CO2?

It is bloody May the 16th, and I am still being killed buying Propane.

Trust me boys, I understand localized conditions, but I am beginning to believe I was right back in the early 70's when I was a lad warning about the "settled science" showing the Ice Age was coming.
jmw (Industrial)
16 May 08 21:46
Hey Pat, where are you?
In the UK we emerged from a long wet cold winter, (the occasional snow flurry just after Easter) had a couple of days of global warming and now we're back to global chilling again.


LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
16 May 08 23:48
That's the global warming "emergency" - They need to get all these cap and trade schemes as law before everybody realizes it's a scam as things get cold again...  Al Gore has a lot invested in his future income.  As more and more oil etc. companies get positioned, they also start (one by one) to raise the "alarm".
jmw (Industrial)
17 May 08 14:35
Global Warming? I rather think that bar a couple of days of it we are still where Flanders and Swann left us:
nuff said.
Of course, if like me you have the CD you can enjoy this song in alls its glory.
(Flanders and Swann are responsible for the "Animal Songs" including the song of the Gnu, the Hippopotamus etc.)

By the way, Al (Tust me, I'm a former Presidential Candidate married to Heavy Metal hating Pippa) Gore should be collecting some funds together for a class action suit from all those of us freezing our toes off.


csd72 (Structural) (OP)
18 May 08 20:47
That is why they now call it 'climate change' some effects will actually temporarily cool certain areas just because of the convection processes.
GregLocock (Automotive)
18 May 08 21:12
Ah, is that the reason? I rather thought it might be that they realised that by confidently predicting an effect they were limiting their options. Climate change means they stay in business whichever way it goes, or even if there is no global effect at all, just local effects.



Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

electricpete (Electrical)
18 May 08 21:49;cid=10149#ocean_3a

Warming can cause unusual melting of the ice caps, releasing large amounts of fresh whater which disrupt the north Atlantic conveyor / heat-pump.

But I guess if you think that Wood's Hole MIT is part of the conspiracy, there's not much point in discussing it.

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electricpete (Electrical)
18 May 08 22:03
Some more from the same folks:;cid=9986


It is important to clarify that we are not contemplating a situation of either abrupt cooling or global warming. Rather, abrupt regional cooling and gradual global warming can unfold simultaneously. Indeed, greenhouse warming is a destabilizing factor that makes abrupt climate change more probable

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GregLocock (Automotive)
19 May 08 6:31
I don't think you need a conspiracy, more likely a "coalition of the willing". The scientists researchers gain from the funding, the journos have something to write about, the public gets to blame the evil oil/car/coal/etc companies.


Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

owg (Chemical)
19 May 08 9:04
Electricpete - Thanks for the Wood's Hole references. The bit about the countries bordering the North Atlantic possibly having no change in temperature over the next 100 years due to the greenhouse gas effect offsetting the slowing of the ocean current that keeps us warm was particularly interesting. It is an example of how little we know about the future. Here is the quote.

"A reduction in the Atlantic heat pump in the next several decades would cause winters to be colder and more severe than today in the regions around the North Atlantic.  If changes in the heat pump occur instead a century from now, then the effects would be different.  Since greenhouse gases are projected to rise over the next 100 years, the global average temperature will also continue to rise.  Cooling in the Atlantic region might actually mitigate  that warming such that winters then would not be colder than today."


csd72 (Structural) (OP)
19 May 08 9:24
The earth is an incredibly complex place, and any simplifying assumptions are usually wrong.

It is no coincidence that most of the sceptics on this forum come from petroleum reliant industries. Not accusing them of self interest but the industry journals e.t.c. that these industries put out all have a vested interest.

LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
19 May 08 11:02
The "Atlantic heat pump" is moderated now, and always has been as long as there has been seasonal ice in the Arctic.

Read the Wood's hole link objectively - don't let the word "may" translate into "will".  

Also, in this statement:
"It is scientifically inconceivable that - after changing forest into cities, putting dust and soot into the atmosphere, putting millions of acres of desert into irrigated agriculture, and putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere - humans have not altered the natural course of the climate system"
you will notice ghg's are last in the list.  It is inconceivable that the first ones are not affecting climate, but it is pretty well accepted that a doubling of CO2 will only increase temperature by about 1 deg C (3 to 4 w/m^2) - and we really have no clue about what the feedbacks will do.  

Read the rest of them - notice that when they talk about the hydrological cycle they don't get into latent heat - shows that this is not put together by someone familiar (or even aware of) thermodynamics.  Average global rainfall is about a meter - a 5% increase in evaporation completely offsets the effect of CO2.
Zapster (Electrical)
19 May 08 11:17
The earth is an incredibly complex place, and any simplifying assumptions are usually wrong.

csd72 could not have said it better.  I wonder how many folks in this discussion will agree that all of the assumptions that reside in a computer model of earth's environment make the projected outcome lack credibility.  A sensitivity analysis of a climate model should make anyone with a technical/math background skeptical of any projected outcome regardless of their belief system.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
19 May 08 14:28

I am talking about the simplifying assumptions that many people on this forum are using to justify their point of view.

Yes, computer models are not perfect, even our engineering Finite Element Method computer programs are just a close approximation but they are the best we can do at the moment apart from having a working model (a bit hard for the earth, but maybe if we tow mars into the right orbit....).

One thing I can guarantee you is that the simplifying assumptions used in those computer models are far less than those used by many of the skeptics.
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
19 May 08 15:08
csd72 -

I'm not sure I get your point.  Alarmists say models are robust, yet you say they are not.  Then, as most skeptics (as opposed to denialists) raise issues that illuminate problems with the models, you say the skeptics have no credence, although they are primarily just showing where models are off base.

I think you are confusing showing what is wrong with thinking they know something the models don't show.

Then, you say:
"It is no coincidence that most of the sceptics on this forum come from petroleum reliant industries."

Name some industries that are *not* petroleum reliant.

On a separate note, the biggest moneymakers in the global warming fiasco are the James Hansens (over a million in donations outside his salary) and the Al Gore type "carbon brokers" who are interested in skimming money.
KENAT (Mechanical)
19 May 08 15:42
Sorry for taking this thread back on topic but made me think.

Fuel consumption increases significantly at high speed.

Is it time to put speed regulators on most vechicles?  

I'd have thought with the widespread use of engine management computers etc it wouldn't be too expensive to implement on new vehicles.

Of course the argument of what the level should be will be an issue, especially in the US where the maximum varies quite a bit by state.  The highest posted limit I've seen is 75 (all speeds here in are in mph).

Then there's the (supposed?) safety issue of being able to accelerate out of danger, so you'd probably want a margin on top of that.

Then there's that small group of people that like to take their cars onto a track and race, or at least go fast.  So you'd perhaps need some way to temporarily turn it off, though as that's arguably wasting fuel maybe notwinky smile.

Plus I'm sure there is some reason the ACLU can think of why it infringes on human rights guaranteed by the constitution.

You could get it real fancy and tie it in with GPS and based on location the governor could be adjusted to be X above the posted limit, that or via transponders in the road signs.  Then this could all be recorded in a black box & checked once a year when you go for your tags so should you go abroad or onto a track and speed the Police/DMV will be able to tell the difference.  Maybe insurance companies would give a discount for this even if it wasn't mandatory by law.

However this all starts to get a bit big brother, where do you stop?

I certainly wouldn't mind seeing it on Trucks/Big rigs.  The amount of times I've been tail gated by a big rig on the 138 between Gorman & Lancaster or on the 55 stretch of the 5, North of Castaic is pretty high.  This when typically doing about 60 on what are 55 roads (45 in some areas for Trucks).  However the proposed 68 in the link wont help much with that.

Other ideas, "to reduce your individual impact" – don't go dirt biking or partake in other motor sport etc.; don't support motor sport (though there's the old argument about developing technology in motor sport that finds its way to the road may come into play); don't use camper vans, get a room or a tent.  


KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

GregLocock (Automotive)
19 May 08 21:44

I think your lack of experience with safety related models is showing. In my world we correlate our models and whenever we have to extrapolate outside the zone of correlation we erect big signs saying "here there be dragons". My models are used to sign off investments of the order of half a billion dollars.

Instead the global warming guys are attempting to extrapolate forward by 50 years on models that seem to trip up every two years. They are 'signing off' on investments of the order of 5% of the world's economy (say).

I think my cynicism/criticism is justified.



Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

electricpete (Electrical)
20 May 08 0:03
Since you bring up the analogy of safety analysis:   If you are analysing actions to provide high confidence of avoiding an unacceptable (unsafe) outcome, doesn't the presence of uncertainty in your estimate steer you toward more conservative actions to compensate?

For example if my best guess is that I need exactly 2" thick structual beams to avoid bridge collapse and I have high confidence in my model, I might make those beams 2.2" to provide myself a modest 10% safety factor.  But if that same 2" estimate is based on a model with low confidence, then we have to provide maybe 4" or 6" thick steel to provide a higher safety margin to compensate for the uncertainty.  

The same logic applied to global warming would suggest more agressive approach since the situation may be even worse than our best-guess models tell us.

I am not saying the climate change argument is that simple (there are many different adverse consequences to consider), but I don't see how analogy to safety analysis tells us that uncertainty in our results should lead toward less conservative actions.

The fact that the models are uncertain is not a suprise to anyone.  It is certainly not a suprise to the Hadley center which provides uncertainty analyses spread throughout their documents, for example here:

I don't think there are a lot clear-cut conclusions in this debate.  I do think that people (myself included) tend to make up their minds early on about what are the credible sources and then filter out everything that doesn't match their preconceptions.  In some ways, it is similar to the political pundits on CNN.  And then you have the name-calling. We have some here that can't get through 2 posts without using the word "alarmist", and who think it is civil behavior to offer to "educate" someone simply because a differeing opinion is expressed.   Now I'm not whining,  I'm sure I have done some of the same type of tactics myself.   But I thought engineers were a little better than the talking heads on CNN.

I guess it just comes Comes with the territory (global warming discussions).

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electricpete (Electrical)
20 May 08 0:04
By  the way Kenat, did you really think you were going to get a word in edgewise on the original topic?  Sorry.

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GregLocock (Automotive)
20 May 08 0:39

Yes I agree, that would be the usual way to operate if the model had demonstrated its reliability in the domain in question. That is, a model that is reliably predictive if not especially accurate can be a useful tool.

BUT these models that have failed to demonstrate any ability to predict in the domain of interest (ie the future, from the viewpoint of 8 years ago, or whenever it was that global temperatures stabilised). They do not seem to me to be anything more than the beginnings of understanding of the subject in question.

I'm not saying we shouldn't attempt to predict future climate, but neither would I take the first output from these /demonstrably innaccurate/ models as a good reason to do anything drastic, especially when we take into account that even if their predictions come true there is a good argument that the results will be beneficial or (relatively) cheap to deal with.

Having said that as well, there is no particular point in burning oil (etc) to make electricity, and a more efficient lifestyle would be a good idea. But the latter rather presupposes that the enormous majority of people worldwide will never be 'allowed' to have a moderately energy consumptive lifestyle. Ignoring them ignores reality.


Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
20 May 08 0:57
The problem with the approach to the dogmatic "better safe than sorry" concept is that
1.  Not only is the population on Earth exploding, but
2.  CO2 is the base of the food chain,
3.  Alarmists have no clue about thermodynamics, and
4.  Models really are a very long way away from reality.

So what is known as the "Precautionary Principle" really says "Don't waste CO2".  
moltenmetal (Chemical)
20 May 08 8:39
LCruiser et al: yeah, we get it. There's uncertainty in the climactic models.

There's also SERIOUS RISK associated with greenhouse gas emissions, as identified overwhelmingly by the people who study the climate for a living and who report their results in peer-reviewed journals.  And contrary to your assertions, a few of the peers who review such journals DO understand thermodynamics.  Contrary to your assertions, this isn't all hot air from Al Gore and his ilk.

What do YOU propose we do about it?  Or your discourse just an excuse to continue with the status quo and ignore the risk, hoping for some undemonstrated benefit with relation to food supply?  There are risks to our current fossil fuel addiction that are far less uncertain than the risk of global warming, and yet we continue to do NOTHING.  

rb1957 (Aerospace)
20 May 08 9:13
moltenmetal ...

"serious risk ... ghg" ... is there ?
"overwelmingly ..." ... is there ?
"this isn't all hot air ..." ... you're right, this is about money, and lots of it; and politics.  this is not about the survival of the human race, 'cause the predictions of doom change with every prediction.

have humans affected the climate ? ... of course (other posts have noted the impact of agriculture, cities, etc.)  but then so do beavers (should we nuke them?)

are humans solely responsible for climate change ... of course not ... there's that great big glowing ball in the sky that has some effect.

are ghg responsible for a significant part of climate change ... well that's the point up for debate, and unfortunately it has taken on the bi-polar positions found in religious "debates" (arguments, contradictions)

should we humans be more sensitive to the impact we have on the world around us ... of course, the conservation movement/ideal has been around for a long time, but we live in a world of "free will", so people can buy SUVs, etc 'cause they want to.  now we've "invented" a new boggie man to frighten us into doing "the right thing" and to allow politicans to skim more of our money in taxes; but then they have also created whole new industries.

should we as engineers prepared for some changes we anticipate ? ... i think so, how many trillions of dollars will it cost to defend against increases in sea-levels ?? who pays ???

do you think that if we stop producing ghg (now) that the climate change (due to the sun) will be reduced to levels that are "acceptable" to us humans ??

why are the levels of 1990 so acceptable ?  'cause its a compromise that's politically expedient.  

what will happen even if we achieve the IPCC targets ? ... the climate will continue to change, and the politicans will say "i told you so", and we'll still be skrewed.

we cannot control the world's climate; the tail does not wag the dog.

rant over, for today.
josephv (Mechanical)
20 May 08 10:07
Exxon Mobil softens its climate-change stance
Thursday, January 11, 2007
By Jeffrey Ball, The Wall Street Journal

Exxon has stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank that last year ran television ads saying that carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, is helpful.  
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
20 May 08 10:44
GW could be bad, or it could be good like it always has been in the past.  Mankind blossomed during the Holocene Maximum.  Arable land is being eaten up at a faster and faster pace - the food supply is not sustainable.  Increased CO2 will increase the food supply, so we know that decreasing CO2 will be bad - what it will do to climate we don't know.  Until ZPG happens we have a problem one way or the other.  Alarmism on climate is just what the carbon brokers want - and Exxon Mobil just wants to get in on how regulations are written.
cranky108 (Electrical)
20 May 08 13:02
So are we creating a new problem with our reactions to what we preceve?
Yes there is a glowing ball in the sky, but is that helpful, or harmful? Do we want more heat from it or less?

There was a statistic that said if we all painted our roofs white we can balance out global warming. So far I haven't many people doing that. But I have seen people putting black solar panels on there roofs, so I could conclude we are wanting more heat from that glowing ball.

If we really wanted to do something about carbon we could embrace nucular energy. But we don't. What we seem to be wanting is less reliable wind, and to back it up with the evel carbon burning power plants.

Believe what you want to believe, but stop and think about what your doing to the other guy.

We can fix global warming, or cooling, but ruining our economy isen't the answer.
KENAT (Mechanical)
20 May 08 13:05


By  the way Kenat, did you really think you were going to get a word in edgewise on the original topic?  Sorry.

Not really.

Though I did think the big brother/nanny state implications might raise a few heckles.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

moltenmetal (Chemical)
20 May 08 13:13
rb1957:  yes, and yes.  There is a serious risk, and overwhelming majority of those who study this for a living agree that the risk exists.

Not a certainty, but a risk.

Yeah, I get it:  you don't trust the climate experts because they're all in somebody's pocket- they all have a self-serving agenda.  So you believe a group of skeptics who, you guessed it, are in someone (else)'s pocket.  But of course, your own desire to let the status quo continue unabated has nothing to do with your lending credence to one side versus the other.  

We will pay whatever it costs to adapt to climate change because we will have no choice.  The only question is what we'll pay to mitigate the risk ahead of time.  Right now that appears to be limited to lip service and research dollars for a magical non-existent technological fix.  My sincere hope is that one day we will make a serious, concerted effort to kick the fossil fuel monkey off our backs by investing in, monetarily and in terms of personal commitment, changes to the way we do things to conserve this finite resource.

Consider that reducing fossil fuels consumption has inestimable benefits aside from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the whole thing's a no brainer in my view.

I'm with you on the zero population growth.  Unfortunately we're all addicted to the economic growth pyramid scam and that requires increasing population to support it.  We'll have to conquer that mindset before population growth could ever realistically be addressed.

Consider though that we're not in our wildest dreams looking at reducing [CO2] in the atmosphere:  we're hoping to stem the rate at which this concentration GROWS every year, to hopefully stabilize it one day far distant. So the food production argumen doesn't hold watert.  More severe weather and increased evaporation could easily eat up every bit of benefit the extra CO2 could ever give us- and more.  And though the seed/fruit production rates go up with increasing [CO2], the nutritive content doesn't.
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
20 May 08 14:31
Don't get me wrong - I'm all for energy conservation and climate research.  So far though, they are two different questions.  Artificially linking the two brings up the apparent question: Does the end justify the means?"  It really isn't a question at all, depending on one's vision.  Whatever the case, "the end includes the means".  So if we are to condone lying about this to the public, where would it stop?  

I'd just as soon not encourage that type of society myself.

The big question is how much does CO2 affect climate, but the bigger issue so far is how much CO2 benefits the food supply.

And, don't think there is some kind of consensus that increasing ghg's will create a catastrophe, because there isn't:

There is pretty much consensus that CO2 affects climate (I personally know of no exceptions among real scientists), but that it may remain forever buried in natural variability.  For over ten years people have been spewing panic, but for those ten years the globe has not warmed.
Helpful Member!  ykee (Electrical)
20 May 08 15:17
LCruiser, there is very good research that shows that at least some parts of the planet have warmed considerably -- Google something like "arctic climate change".  In fact, there has been so much climate change that the Northwest passage will become a viable shipping lane in the not too distant future.

Being engineers, we all know that part of our job is risk mitigation -- because we do not know what the changes in things like rain patterns are going to be, we are facing uncertainities.  Attempting to limit greenhouse gas emissions is about risk mitigation.  If you ask the question "To what degree does increased CO2 benefits food supply", we should also ask "To what degree is climate change going to mess up known weather patterns".

LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
20 May 08 15:34
CrazyHorse81 (Civil/Environmental)
20 May 08 16:09
In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total amount of energy in any isolated system remains constant but cannot be recreated, although it may change forms, e.g. friction turns kinetic energy into thermal energy. In thermodynamics, the first law of thermodynamics is a statement of the conservation of energy for thermodynamic systems, and is the more encompassing version of the conservation of energy. In short, the law of conservation of energy states that energy can not be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.

With that stated I believe that we do not have an influence of climate change, cooling warming or whatever.
ykee (Electrical)
20 May 08 16:32
LCruiser -- I definetly agree that CO2 is not the only thing causing climate change -- interesting articles from climate scinece.  Although I would note the content of the NASA article -- only one part of the south pole is cooling, the rest of the area is warming.  Speculation in the article relates the cooling to being caused by changing precipitation patterns, or ozone.  I think the bottom line is that weather patterns are changing....slowly.

CrazyHorse -- No one is saying that conservation of energy does not apply to climate change.  The earth is not an isolated system: there is this thing called "The Sun" it blasts us with all kinds of radiation, various attributes of our planet affect how this energy is absorbed/reflected etc.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
20 May 08 16:37

Conservation of energy has no relevance in this field. The earth is pounded with energy from the Sun each and every minute of the day.

The queation is, how much of that is reflected as black body radiation compared to how much is coming in. It is the difference between these two that is the cause of global warming.
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
20 May 08 17:04
ykee - The part of the South Pole that is cooling is the furthest from the ocean.  The ocean is carrying heat from the northern hemisphere caused by factors listed (other than CO2) down to the Antarctic ocean.   
GregLocock (Automotive)
20 May 08 21:24
Well, while we're grovelling around pretending that the experts in their fields are beyond criticism, the experts in economics say that the cost to fix up the worst case scenario results from the global warming crowd are of the same order as the cost to prevent them. So do nothing is a sensible economics driven approach, given the uncertainity of the models.

Or are some experts more equal than others?

"There's uncertainty in the climactic models"

Understatement of the year, in the light of the scientific method, you know, the old hypothesis -test -result thing?

Hypothesis - the earth will get warmer if the CO2 rises

test - CO2 has steadily risen over the last 8 years

result - global temps fell slightly.

Conclusion? give us more money.

As I said, there is no harm, and there is presumably some good, in increasing our understanding of the climate, and ability to predict it in the future. But to waste any resources (that is, to do things that do not have a rational (if not necessarily economic) payback), at the moment on the basis of models that fail completely when tested in the real world, seems to me to be a non-rational act. Even more so when the economic costs of coping with the predicted changes is of the same order as the cost of preventing those changes in the first place.

This reliance on peer reviewed journals is a bit of window dressing.

Galileo tried to understand how the stresses in a cantilevered beam worked out. He was a bright bloke, and everybody knew it. If he had published a paper on it in a peer reviewed journal, it would have been accepted.

But he was wrong, completely, utterly, wrong. Luckily the builders and architects at the time didn't pay any attention to Galileo. Mathematicians did, and a couple of centuries later they were able to explain the stresses in beams and so produce a reliable predictive equation.

Or for another example, the Bohr (?) theory of atomic structure where the electrons are in neat little orbits around the nucleus. Absolutely and completely misleading. It fit the data at the time, yet as soon as it was tested in the real world as a predictive approach, it (almost literally) exploded. Yet that old red herring is precisely what I was taught in school. It's a Just-So story for physicists. You can bet that was in peer reviewed journals.

So, I'll leave the climatologists to get on with the real science, using the scientific method, hopefully in less than two centuries they'll come up with a useful model. But I'm damned if I am going to pay overmuch attention to their predictions at the moment.


Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

electricpete (Electrical)
20 May 08 23:55
LCruiser –  Did you accelerate your use of the word "alarmist" as a favor to me winky smile


19 May 08 11:02
[regarding Woods Hole web page;cid=10149#ocean_3a  ]

Read the rest of them – notice that when they talk about the hydrological cycle they don't get into latent heat - shows that this is not put together by someone familiar (or even aware of) thermodynamics.  Average global rainfall is about a meter - a 5% increase in evaporation completely offsets the effect of CO2
You will have to provide a little more backup to prove that William Curry (Director of Ocean and Climate Change Institute (part of  Woods Hole) is ignorant about thermodynamics.   I don't see that he has overlooked anything.   There was no discussion of heat balance on that entire page, so how can you suggest a term is ommitted?    The page is addressing "Common Misconceptions about Abrupt Climate Change" and as such is not a rigorous presentation of every aspect,  but an overview.  


CO2 is global, correct?  If this was all caused by CO2 then why has the *South* pole continued to cool?;cid=10149#ocean_3a
"Q. How can global warming and sudden cooling happen at the same time?
A. Confusion arises because a cooling can be a regional event, superimposed on top of continuously warming earth..."

As you can read above (and you no doubt already know) the global climate system is not so simple that we expect changes in temperature at any given point in time must occur in the same direction at all points  on the globe.  So cooling in the pole doesn't disprove a global warming trend.  Then what is the point?  Perhaps that no model is anywhere close to perfect?  On that I would agree.


the experts in economics say that the cost to fix up the worst case scenario results from the global warming crowd are of the same order as the cost to prevent them.
That's the first I've heard that.  Who said it?    Seems to fly in the face of common sense, especially when you allow for the "worst-case scenario".     I thought the economic argument against proactive measures rests on the premise that the worst case scenario is very unlikely.    If the worst case scenario's do come to pass and we have done little to prepare, I'm pretty sure at that point everyone would agree in retrospect that more action should have been taken earlier.       Is it a smart investment to spend $10 per day for the extra insurance when you're renting a car?  Probably not.  But if you get in an accident and are without complete coverage, you'd definitely wish you had spent that $10 per day.

Or maybe they are using probability-weighted cost to fix the worst-case scenario? That would make more sense to me.  But the probability is the tough part – it is something that the Hadley Center has been trying to quantify by combining emissions scenario's with model scenario's to provide some sense of the range of possible and probable outcomes.

A snippet from Joseph's article:


Kenneth Cohen, Exxon's vice president for public affairs,
"we know enough now -- or, society knows enough now -- that the risk is serious and action should be taken"
I know it's just a snippet taken without much context, but I couldn't resist.  Who'd of thunk it ?

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jmw (Industrial)
21 May 08 2:01
The question isn't about global warming it is about anthropogenic global warming producing not a cycle i n the heating and cooling, but ongoing warming with no return to a cooling cycle.

Now turn it around and assume we were in the midst of an AGC debate i.e. anthropogenic global cooling (Global chilling is a now accepted fact by the AGW group which says that global chilling is masking the full effects of global warming) and assume that we needed to warm the planet to stop ourselves chilling ourselves to extinction. Would anyone give credit to a scheme that by simply burning fossil fuels we could reverse the global chilling trend?
Would that seem a credible mechanism?

Now if we were being warned of this (as we were, some years back the great alarmist story was that we were entering a new ice age) then we would recognise that global chilling has far more perils for the human race than global warming.

Now it is being claimed by some that over the last ten years we have failed to see any of the predicted warming and may be cooling off. Now why is that?

Oh, I get it. The measures already taken are having an effect .....



GregLocock (Automotive)
21 May 08 6:29
electricpete, you are right I shouldn't have said worst case scenario, the articles I've seen probably discounted the worst case scenarios. I'd guess from memory they were going for the mid-case ones.

The following interview, if not the smarmy bitching afterwards, is interesting. Radio National is a politically correct pro AGW radio station, that I pay for involuntarily. The Australian is an un-pc, anti AGW, newspaper that I pay for voluntarily.,25197,23411799-7583,00.html



Greg Locock

SIG:Please see FAQ731-376: Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

owg (Chemical)
21 May 08 8:21
Various sources of global temperature have reported that 2007 temperature was down by about 0.58 deg C (average of 4 sources). This was unexpected but the publishers of the data say it is too early to say that this is a new trend. However wouldn't it be diabolical if we see the CO2 come down in 2008-2009, presumably following the global cooling.


owg (Chemical)
21 May 08 9:02
For anyone trying to follow Climate Change the acronyms can be a problem. Here is a list. Its not complete but it may help some.

AAAS American Academy of Arts and Sciences
AAS American Astronomical Society
AASC American Association of State Climatologists
AC Arctic Council
ACIA Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
AGU American Geophysical Union
AMB Australian Meteorological Bureau
AMS American Meteorological Society
AR4 IPCC Working Group 1: The Physical Basis of Climate Change
CCSP Climate Change Science Program
CERN Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire
CIRES Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
CLOUD Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets
CPC Climate Prediction Center
ECMWF European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts
EUMETSAT European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites
GAW Global Atmosphere Watch
GCOS Global Climate Observing System
GECC UK Global Environmental Change Committee
GISS Goddard Institute for Space Studies
GFDL Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
GFSC Goddard Space Flight Center
GHCC Global Hydrology & Climate Center
GOOS Global Ocean Observing System
GOS Global Observing System
GTOS Global Terrestrial Observing System
IASC International Arctic Science Committee
ICECAP International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project
ICSU International Council for Science
IOC Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
MBL Marine Biological Laboratory (aka Woods Hole)
METHC Met Office Hadley Centre
NAMMA NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses
NAS National Academy of Sciences
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NCAR National Center for Atmospheric Research
NCDC National Climatic Data Center
NCEP National Centers for Environmental Prediction
NHC National Hurricane Center
NSF National Science Foundation
NSIDC National Snow and Ice Data Center
NOAA National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
NRC National Research Council
NRCS Natural Resources Conservation Service
NWS National Weather Service
RMetS Royal Meteorological Society
SAR Second Assessment Report IPCC 1995
SPPI Science and Public Policy Institute
TAR Third Assessment Report IPCC 2001
TRMM Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission
UAH University of Alabama in Huntsville, Atmospheric Science Department
UCAR University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
USGCRP US Global Change Research Program
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UW University of Washington Department of Atmospheric Sciences
WGMS World Glacier Monitoring Service
WMO World Meteorological Organisation

Climate Science Abbreviations

ACIA Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
ADRF Aerosol Direct Radiative Forcing
AEW African Easterly Waves
AGHG Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas
AIRF Aerosol Indirect Radiative Forcing
AMO Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
AO Arctic Oscillation (aka NAM)
AOD Aerosol Optical Depth
AOGCM Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Model
ARF Aerosol Radiative Forcing
ARIMA AutoRegressive Integrated Moving Average

BT Brightness Temperature

CAPE Convective Available Potential Energy
CAS Climate Analysis System
CCN Cloud Condensation Nuclei
CINE Convection Inhibition Energy
CO2 Carbon dioxide
CONUS Conterminus United States
COT Cloud Optical Thickness
CRE Cloud Radiative Effect
CRF Cosmic Ray Flux
CRII Cosmic Ray Induced Ionisation

DEAD Dust Entrainment and Deposition
DLF Downward Longwave Flux
DTR Diurnal Temperature Range
DVI Dust Veil Index

ENSO El Nino Southern Oscillation
EOF Empirical Othogonal Function

FACE Free Air Carbon Enrichment
FAR First Assessment Report IPCC 1990
FOIA Freedom of Information Act

GCM General Circulation Model
GCM Global Circulation Model
GCM Global Climate Model
GCR Galactic Cosmic Ray
GHG Greenhouse Gas
GMST Global Mean Surface Temperature
GOSTA Global Ocean Surface Temperature Atlas
GRL Geophysical Research Letters
GW Global Warming

IR Infra Red
IRD Ice-Rafted Debris
ISO IntraSeasonal Oscillations

LACC Low Altitude Cloud Cover
LCC Land-Cover Change
LCL Lifting Condensation Level
LFC Level of Free Convection
LFO Low-Frequency Oscillation
LGM Last Glacial Maximum
LI Lifted Index
LIA Little Ice Age
LNB Level of Neutral Bouyancy
LTS Lower-Tropospheric Stability
LUC Land-Use Change
LW LongWave
LWC Liquid Water Content

MAGICC Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse gas Induced Climate Change
MAT Marine Air Temperature
MJO Madden-Julian Oscillation
MODIS Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer
MPA Mobile Polar Anticyclone
MSD Mean Square Differences
MSLP Mean Sea-Level Pressure
MSU Microwave Sounding Unit
MWP Medieval Warm Period

NADW North Atlantic Deep Water
NARR North American Regional Reanalysis
NAM Northern Annular Mode (aka AO)
NAO North Atlantic Oscillation
NATL North Atlantic Tropical Latitude
NH Northern Hemisphere
NPO North Pacific Oscillation
NWP Numerical Weather Prediction

OMR Observation Minus Reanalysis
OPAC Optical Properties of Aerosol and Cloud

PDF Probability Distribution Function
PDO Pacific Decadal Oscillation
PDI Palmer Drought Index (Moisture)
PDI Power Dissipation Index (Hurricanes)
POD Period of Data

QBO Quasi-Biennial zonal wind Oscillation

RCM Regional Climate Model

SAR Synthetic Aperture Radar
SAT Surface Air Temperature
SCENGEN A regional climate SCENario GENerator
SLP Sea Level Pressure
SOI Southern Oscillation Index
SRES Special Report on Emissions Scenarios
SST Sea Surface Temperature
STS Sub Tropical Storms
SW ShortWave

THC Thermo-Haline Circulation
TOA Top of Atmosphere
TSI Total Solar Irradiance

UHI Urban Heat Island
USHCN US Historical Climate Network

Comment by Philip Mulholland — August 28, 2007 @ 5:34 pm


jmw (Industrial)
1 Jun 08 9:09
Uh oh, no consensus:
Numbers vary, according to whose article you read, but around 31,000 scientists, 9000 with PhDs, most in some sort of climate or environment related discipline (it is said) have signed the petition.

That's an awful lot of people to be in the pay of the petrochemical giants.

As one diehard said "When 100% of scientists sign that's when we'll have a consensus."

Now for those who think taxation is the answer, take a look reports of "Spanish, Belgian and Portuguese fishermen launched nationwide strikes over soaring fuel prices, the latest in a wave of oil related protests sweeping Europe."
and protests in other countries about the price of fuel.

SO now let's look again at the problem and how to solve it if it exists.

Seems ironic to me that as fast as everyone is cutting down trees (not just the slash and burn merchants but also local authorities who believe trees are harmful to motorists...(from their habit of positioning themselves just where motorists speeding along at 90mph a#re going to come off the road)... that someone now suggests giant artificial trees (I wonder if they will put them up on bends in the road).
So now we have artificial trees to add to artificial volcanoes (proposed as a means to put Sulphur into the atmosphere, after we've taken it out of fuels) as an aid to global chilling.

Its a funny old world, isn't it?


jmw (Industrial)
1 Jun 08 9:19
Sorry, just had to add a bit.

The artificial tree proposal comes from Dr Broecker.


He said the challenge was to get rapidly developing countries such China, India and Brazil behind the idea.

The UK is littered with Palmerston's follies. These are the forts built against an expected French invasion. They were built in the 1870's at great expense.

It transpires that all the French invasion plans began with a statement "First the British Royal Navy is lured away...."
but without saying how. Dr. Broecker's "challenge" is a bit the same. Without that the Chinese agree it ain't going to happen.

OK, so the Russian Academy of Science has decided AGW is a myth. I see no reason why the Chinese should choose to believe in AGW, indeed, they have every reason to reject the idea.

Incidentally, the French Invasion scare was attributed to Napoleon the Third. Not only did the UK get all those forts and lots of orders for Armstrong but in the southern UK all houses had gravity tanks for water so that if invasion came and interrupted supplies every house would have a reserve.
As for Napoleon III, he lived out his days with the Empress Eugenie at Farnborough Hill House in Hampshire and his son was killed on active service with the British Army in Africa.

But don't expect that Al Gore should be accorded a similar courtesy should he have to flee into exile. (Britain has always been a haven for failed or threatened politicians and Royalty including Metternich who lived at Brighton for a while).


josephv (Mechanical)
2 Jun 08 9:27
That petition is from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Here is the response to their original petition in 1998 from the National Academy of Sciences:
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
2 Jun 08 10:29
Thanks for the quote josephv.  You will notice it was over 10 years ago and Earth has cooled since then...

josephv (Mechanical)
2 Jun 08 13:06
You are welcome. According to the National Academies, "9 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred during the past decade."

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
2 Jun 08 13:45
Interesting part of the petition

"Proposed limits in greenhouse gases would harm the environment..."

What!? How can putting less of our man made pollutants harm the environment? I would be really interested to hear that explanation.

Also there seems to be a very large concentration in certain states like texas, California and Florida, are these oil producing states?  

Also interestingly only 3,697 are in Atmospheric, environmental, and Earth sciences, and there are almost 10000 from engineering and general science (some of which are probably no more informed than we are).

The petition does not convince me at all when weighed against a buch of scientists specifically picked for their knowledge of climate related issues.
josephv (Mechanical)
2 Jun 08 14:24
Also, if you look at the petition itself it has a check box that says, "please send more petition cards for me to distribute".

This basically means that the distribution of petitions was relatively uncontrolled ( i.e. they could distribute the petition to anyone).
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
2 Jun 08 14:25
Most ghg emissions, namely CO2, are not "pollutants".  They are the base of the food chain.  So much for your paradigm.

As far as limiting their emissions being harmful to the environment, look at the results of the very first step we have done - that is encourage making ethanol.  the raw materials for 25 gallons of ethanol from corn would feed an adult for an entire year.  The cost of food has risen worldwide due to this calamity, therefore more people are farming less arable land, using more fertilizers etc.  They are also pushing the limits on crop rotation, ruining more and more arable land.

And that's just the first step.  

Then you get into not letting third world people use fossil fuels for food production, manufacturing, etc.  

Contrast that petition with this one:

which they could only get *100* IPCC scientists to sign.

csd72 (Structural) (OP)
2 Jun 08 14:53
The real impetus of using ethanol was not really climate change it was more to do with rising fuel costs.

The environmental 'benefits' were just a political wrapping.

If bush was really into the environment, mandating better fuel efficiency standards would have a much more immediate effect.
LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
2 Jun 08 15:01
csd72 said:
"The real impetus of using ethanol was not really climate change it was more to do with rising fuel costs."

Got any backup on that?  It doesn't make any sense, especially since it takes so much fossil fuel just to manufacture ethanol.
rb1957 (Aerospace)
2 Jun 08 15:18
back to the petitions ...

1, 100, 100,000 who cares ... science is about proving stuff, having an idea about the causal relationship of some things, devising experiments to test predictions, then living with the results, possibly explaining a more complicated relationship.

politics is about getting people to believe stuff so they'll do as they are told, or let others tax the cr@p out of them.

NO-ONE can prove AGW, these day's we're having enough trouble detecting GW.  Everyone has an opinion and each is to a greater or lesser extent educated.  if people say "well 1,000 scientists say so, then it must be true", then they'll get the world they want.  

of course the climate is changing; it's always been changing and always will, but we have no proof as to what it's going to do tomorrow.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
2 Jun 08 15:37

Your point can also be used to argue against the environmental benefits of ethanol.

But the truth is that these are unexpected side effects that were not expected at the original inception of the idea. It can work though, as Brazil has shown.
KENAT (Mechanical)
2 Jun 08 17:02
csd, Native Tribes, Endangered Animals, Wildlife groups etc. may argue whether it really works.

I'm not sure if the de-forestation is linked that much to cane sugar or to cattle ranching or even subsistence farming etc but the last I heard it was continuing.

"Environmental Impacts" is a huge remit, CO2/AGW is just one part of it.  

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

LCruiser (Civil/Environmental)
2 Jun 08 17:35
Brazil is #1 in the world in destruction of rainforests.  Even above other continents.
csd72 (Structural) (OP)
2 Jun 08 18:52

Very good points. Thats what comes from not having time to think these posts through.

I would never make it in politics.

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