Tag Archives: air pollution

Pollution — The Big Lie that Lives on Forever

Air pollution and carbon dioxide have been linked together since the global warming debate began some 25 years ago.  It’s the big lie in the climate game that won’t go away.  Al Gore’s film video cover art is a perfect example of the faux reality we all live with.  Pollutants from factories and carbon dioxide pollution are shown and one and the same.

Carbon dioxide is colorless and odorless, which is why it acts as a greenhouse gas.  Since it is colorless and odorless it makes a boring picture.  The material coming from the smokestack is either water vapor or visible pollution.  Chemicals in air pollution can cause cancer, and can make air unsafe to breathe for people at risk.  Carbon dioxide is beneficial.  Greenhouses add carbon dioxide to their microclimate to make plants grow faster.

Traditional air pollution is neither colorless nor odorless.  Newspaper articles regularly feature a polluting factory photo while discussing carbon dioxide issues.  It’s the big lie that wont go away.

There really is a big difference between air pollution and carbon dioxide. When I visited Shanghai, my eyes watered and I had a sore throat my entire stay. Beijing has air pollution many time worse than Shanghai.  Particulate matter floating around  Beijing’s air causes immediate health problems for its residents.  People are warned not to leave their homes on bad days.  The health risk is immediate and real.  Ironically, visible air pollution shields the surface of the Earth from the Sun, reflecting the Suns energy back to space.  Air pollution makes the world cooler, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, helping to keep the world warm.

We as a society need to distinguish between traditional air pollution and carbon dioxide.  Air pollution is an immediate health problem; carbon dioxide makes the world a bit warmer than it otherwise would be and is necessary for life on Earth.

Global warming is presumed to be bad.  If the Earth warms fast enough, and then stays warm for a really long time, there will be many environmental consequences.  Some will be good, many will be bad.  People living near the ocean will get wet.  A little warming is not to be feared, the warming we have seen in modern times has been on balance, good for mankind.   250 years ago the world was a degree C cooler than it is today.   Were we to have that climate today, we’d have difficulty feeding the worlds population.

Imagine what the world would be like if it were say….10 degrees C cooler, as it was just 17,000 years ago.

Climate scientists presume that the warming we have right now is just right for society.  The world is not too hot, it’s not too cold, it’s just right.   The tree bears would be proud.

If we did everything just right, exactly as the scientists at the UN want us to, would the world stay just right?  No.  The ecosystem is too dynamic.  It changes all by itself all the time.   The world warmed 10 degrees all by itself some 15000 years ago.  It could start cooling next week or a century from now or a thousand years  form now.  Most of the time in the last 2.5 million years, the world has been has been cold, 5 to 10 degrees colder than it is today.  We live in the Holocene, an 11,000 year long warm spell.   There is no guarantee it will last, no matter what we do.

That said.  We should try to be good stewards of our planet.  But nobody knows how warm we’ll be 500 years from now.  NOBODY!

Global warming theory has been simplified.  The dumbed down version  goes something like this.  Man produced carbon dioxide (and methane and other greenhouse gases) is changing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Carbon dioxide is a weak greenhouse gas, so it only warms the planet a little.  This warming is enough to cause an increase in water vapor.  Water vapor is an effective greenhouse gas and that warms the planet more rapidly which causes even more water vaper (the proverbial tipping point) and then we have rapid warming.

Should increased water vapor cause an increase in clouds, the impact would be mitigated as clouds near the surface cool the environment.  Interestingly, the world has been warmer than it is today in the recent past (120,000 years ago) and we did not spiral out of control then.  Maybe the earth won’t warm as much as predicted.

The worlds ecosystem is extraordinarily complicated with many many variables (solar cycles, variations in the earth’s orbit, the solar winds, positions of the continents, volcanic eruptions, changes in circulation of oceans).  These variable have been linked to past ice ages.   The Earth’s climate may appear stable, but it isn’t.  Wild variations are a part of climate history.  Natural variation exasperates an already difficult science problem.  It is extraordinarily difficult to ascertain a specific cause and effect for any individual variable.  Wild ass guessing is a job requirement in climate science.

Both carbon dioxide and water vapor are building blocks of life.   If they go away bad things happen.   During ice age cold cycles, carbon dioxide levels get very low. They were scarily low at the end of the last ice age cycle some 20,000 years ago.  Low carbon dioxide levels slow plant growth.  Clearly too much is better than too little.

Carbon dioxide has been declared a pollutant by some because it has been presumed to be the deciding factor in climate change.   Any honest debate about climate change must begin with the notion that carbon dioxide is one of many many variables.

Still in doubt.   Carbon dioxide has been steadily rising since the beginning of the industrial revolution as this graph demonstrates:

http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/atmospheric-concentration-of-co2-ppm/csi013_fig04_co2_concentration.png/image_original

Temperatures have been  more erratic.  The correlation is less than perfect.  Temperature has done next to nothing since 1998 as carbon dioxide has been steadily rising. During the period from 1940 to 1978, temperature went down while carbon dioxide rose. Don’t take my word for it, compare the chart above with the chart below courtesy of East Anglia University:

gtc graph

Still doubtful,  lets take a really long view and look at data from an Antarctic ice core with both temperature and carbon dioxide plotted. The chart that follows is the Vostok Ice Core  with carbon dioxide and temperature plotted together:

https://i2.wp.com/www.climatedata.info/resources/Proxies/Ice-Cores/05-Vostok-temperature-and-CO2.gif

Carbon dioxide and temperature share a similar shape, but can go in opposite directions for thousands of years before following each other again. About 400,000 years ago carbon dioxide and termperature were out of sync for about 10,000 years. More often than not, carbon dioxide appears to be a following rather that a leading indicator. Temperature peaks first, begins down and then carbon dioxide follows it down.

The data does look a bit different in the most recent past.  Carbon dioxide is going up faster than temperature which is probably the result of recent activities by man.

Carbon dioxide is regarded as a pollutant because it is assumed to be a leading cause of catastrophic warming a few hundred years from now.  There might be a more than a bit of guessing behind that assertion.   The impact carbon dioxide plays is difficult to quantify.  Past efforts have a poor track record with many missteps.  The science is less clear than most people think.

One thing is  certain….carbon dioxide is a specific and different science experiment than is air pollution.  Sometimes the two come from the same source, like a volcano or a coal fired power plant, but the data leads in different directions.  One is a clear immediate health risk,  the other probably will contribute to a warmer world.  Exactly how much carbon dioxide contributes to warming is a very difficult mathematical problem.

Today the New York Times ran an article with global warming in the title, and a discussion of health issues including Asthma in the text of the article.   The article was about air pollution.  The title was a poor editorial choice.  The Times was mixing normal air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions together as if the subjects were one and the same.

Some carbon dioxide is good, too much, probably not so good.  When does it stop being beneficial and start being a problem?  Do we have too much now?  Would the world be OK if we let carbon dioxide get 100 or 200 ppm higher than it is today.  The last 100 ppm seemed mostly beneficial?  How much is too much?

Most pollutants in the world are just bad.   No amount of Smog is beneficial.  Maybe we need a new name for whatever carbon dioxide is because air pollution is the wrong label.   An essential ingredient for life has been labeled as if it were a poison.

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Climate Change Studies?

Much money has been spent in recent years studying climate change.   We are oft bombarded with gloom and doom courtesy of these studies.   Most studies I’ve read blame rapidly changing temperatures  caused by man.  Carbon dioxide is responsible for whatever disaster they happen to be promoting.

Suppose, just suppose, that the climate hasn’t been changing as rapidly as advertised.

Let’s look at some temperature data.   I’d like to state up front that I think all land based temperature data is wild ass guess data.  The Earth’s temperature is simply too difficult to calculate.   Most thermometers are located in the developed world.  Much of Africa is sparsely covered and coverage in Antarctica is spectacularly sparse,  only a single location for then entire continent. World temperature wild ass guessing is a virtual certainty.   That said, lets begin with some NASA data that relies on weather stations and ocean buoys:

Fig C

Yep, this chart shows a shift in world temperatures in the 1990’s.  But if  the chart had been started a year later in 1997 instead of 1996, then there would be no real change.   Yep, no net change in climate since 1997.   The last 17 years have been surprisingly stable.   More stable than at any time in the last 170 years as this East Anglia University data shows:

Natural variation; here, there, everywhere.   I particularly like the changes in the 1870’s and 1880’s.   Ocean temperature data stunk back then (it’s not that great today) so we know the data used to prepare this graph is jam packed full of guesses.

Climate change before 1950 is presumed to be natural climate variation by the same experts that are trying to scare us now. My personal favorite,  the stretch from 1907 to 1943.  It seems eerily similar to the data from 1976 to 1998.

Don’t like the NASA or East Anglia Data?   Let’s look at some Satellite Data.  Here’s the University of Alabama at Hunstsville (UAH) Satellite global data for the lower atmosphere:

UAH_LT_1979_thru_April_2014_v5

Fairly stable weather until Mt. Pinatubo erupted, then rapid cooling followed by rapid warming.   And still no net change since the second half of1997.

One key premise of man caused global climate change states that the climate will change more at the poles than in the tropics.   It certainly has been true in the Arctic.   I’d argue that soot and pollution from Asia (mostly) are partly to blame.  Recent studies support this notion as does Satellite data from Antarctica.   If the Arctic is changing due to additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, then Antarctica should change too…. and in a similar way.

Take a look at the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) Satellite data for Antarcita.

https://i1.wp.com/data.remss.com/msu/graphics/TLT/plots/RSS_TS_channel_TLT_Southern%20Polar_Land_And_Sea_v03_3.png

Almost flat line.  Now look at the Arctic Data also courtesy of RSS.

https://i1.wp.com/data.remss.com/msu/graphics/TLT/plots/RSS_TS_channel_TLT_Northern%20Polar_Land_And_Sea_v03_3.png

No change in Antarctica, wild change in the Arctic.  Ice core data supports the notion that the Antarctic has not been warming for hundreds of years.   Hmmm.

Most studies I’ve seen, including most IPCC handiwork, start with observed changes in the world around them.  This change is then attributed to man produced greenhouse gases which is supported by computer models that assumed carbon was important.  Round and round we go.  Make an assumption and build a model based upon that assumption and then use that model as proof of the assumption….just a tad circular.

If carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change, the data at both poles should be similar.  The data has been diverging for the entire 36 year history of Satellite Data.

Maybe, just maybe, something else is going on.

 

 

 

Mt. Tambora – A Mann Hockey Stick Problem

Whenever I look at the Mann Hockey Stick reconstruction of past climate I am ever awestruck by the small amount of temperature change depicted during the first 900 years of the chart.  It just doesn’t seem possible.  Very nearly no climate variation for hundreds of years, and then presto, lots of variation.

I often wonder what the powers that be at the UN must have been thinking in 2002 when they made the Mann Hockey Stick Graph the new climate standard.  A new, untested theory with multiple indications of probable sloppy mathematics; science is not supposed to work that way.  It is still around, and still defended vigorously by many in the climate community.

Here is a copy of an image of the 1000 year Mann graph I pulled from a Skeptical Science web  post defending  Mann’s work:

Climate variation shown before 1950 is, according to the IPCC, mostly natural climate variation. The increase in variation started at about the same time direct measurement replaced indirect measurement.   This chart begins using direct measurement in 1902.  Interesting….and odd too.

The UK’s East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU) has direct measurement data that begins in 1860.  NOAA data dates back to 1880. Why start in 1902?   And when does the data begin to look like a hockey stick?  Hmmm…1900…enough said.

Zoom in on 1815 if you can.  A very small decrease in temperature that had been trending downward since about 1775, stops in about 1830.   The net change for the entire period was only a bit over -0.1 degree C.  Something is wrong.  This should be a time of spectacular natural change.  The very small, nearly no change shown makes no sense. Why?  Mt. Tambora.

Mt. Tambora is a 9354 ft. mountain in Indonesia.    It used to be over 14,000 feet tall.  One day in April of 1815, the top 5000 feet went away.  Imagine if you can, an eruption 150 times larger than the Mount St. Helens eruption of May 18,1980.  Tambora is  the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history.   The eruption has been estimated to be 10 times the size of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption of 1991.  Mt. Pinatubo has been credited with cooling  the world’s weather by about 0.5 degree C for 2 years.

Tambora was and still is a big deal.   1815 has been called the year without a summer because the air pollution from the eruption made the world a darker and colder place. Five degrees F. colder or so says a USA Today article. The winter of 1815-16 was a spectacularly cold one all over the world.

An eruption that big should have caused a significant temporary change in the world climate that would have lasted for several years, perhaps longer.   Look at the Mann Chart.  Nothing.   Where did the Mt. Tambora impact go?

Skeptical Science provided the following temperature reconstruction as a defense of the Mann work on their web site.  The two studies supposedly confirm each other.  The new study has an advantage over the Mann work in that it covers a shorter period of time making it easier to read:

Where is the -3 degree C blip in 1815?   Nothing, Nada, Zip?  Whaaaaat? A smaller but significant eruption in 1883, Krakatoa, is not visible either.   Another significant eruption, at Huaynaputina, in 1600 fails to make the chart.   Too small to be detected I suppose.  Changes in the 20th century are here, there and everywhere.  This inconsistency  has never made sense to me.

The Mann reconstruction is a Northern Hemisphere reconstruction of a 1000 year period.   At it’s beginning settlers in Greenland grew hay and their diet was 80% farm animal based including cattle.  Yep cattle in Greenland.   400 years later, most settlers were gone.  The survivors ate primarily whatever they could harvest from the sea.  And all the while the world only cooled 0.1 degree C?  I don’t think so.

20th century warming  7 or 8 times that much?

Most warming before 1950, and some warming since 1950 is presumed to be natural climate variation. No natural climate variation for centuries and then magically lots!?  AND it coincided with a change in the data source.  Come on guys.  Get REAL.

I don’t doubt that the world has warmed, but I do believe that all the data before 1902 in the Mann reconstruction is a guess….a wild ass guess.   Mann has claimed the entire Medieval Warming Period was a regional event or so he is cited in a Scientific American article published in 2005.   I don’t buy it.    Greenland was warm for hundreds of years.   Records all over Northern Europe support the notion that the warmer weather was widespread and lasted for hundreds of years.

Before the Mann study it was widely believed that the Medieval Warming Period was warmer than Mann claims.   Simple charts were included in UN studies as  this one that was featured in the first study published by the IPCC in 1992..

https://i1.wp.com/www.science-skeptical.de/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/lambh23.jpg

The Third Assessment of Climate (TAR), published by the IPCC in 2002 featured a new world order, the Mann chart.  Magically, the Medieval Warming Period disappeared.

Now consider this.

The scale for measuring volcanoes is called the Volcanic Explosivity Index.  It goes up to 8.  Mt. St. Helen’s was a 5, Mt. Pinatubo, Huaynaputina and Krakatoa were in category 6.  Mt. Tambora was a 7.  The average 7 is 100 times larger than the average 5.

Some 26,500 years ago a big chunk of New Zealand went away in the world’s most recent category 8 eruption at Taupo Volcano.  A category 8 eruption is on average 10 times larger than a category 7.  Imagine what that must have done to the ecosystem.  Now there’s a tipping point, Nature’s tipping point.

This happened during an ice age cold spell.  Wow.

Now consider this.

Taupo was a boringly average category 8.   75,000 years ago, plus or minus 5000 years, the Indonesian area blessed us with Toba, the largest category 8 known to man.  This beast was the equivalent of 3 Taupo’s and is suspected of starting a 1,000 year cooling period.

I’ll bet you right now that science will discover more significant volcanic activity.  Some of that activity will have global climate implications.   Who knows how many more will be discovered that have the ability to impact climate as we look back in time?

Dr. Hansen’s Dream World – Part 1

James Hansen, world famous global warming hawk and perennial doom speaker extraordinaire, has just published a new paper titled Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature.

The article uses lots of short term data, cherry picks that data, draws worldwide conclusions from regional data, and makes ridiculous assumptions.   Opinion wanders willy nilly throughout the article.

I am ever amazed at what gets passed off as scientific research in the environmental community.  The article looks more like a legal brief than a scientific document.   Lawyers are paid to represent a client, science isn’t supposed to work that way.

Where to begin? Let’s start at the beginning.  The first paragraph of the introduction says the following:

Humans are now the main cause of changes of Earth’s atmospheric composition and thus the drive for future climate change

Humans are changing the climate, but are they the main cause and is that change the drive for future climate change?   I don’t think so.  Greenhouse gases, air pollution, carbon black, solar winds, gamma rays, volcanoes, hot spots in the sea floor, aerosols and variations in the Earth’s orbit all play a part.  Dr. Hansen’s preoccupation with man caused carbon dioxide is a gross oversimplification.

This article sites the 2007 IPCC report as their reference for the statement.  The IPCC report says they are 90% certain that man is responsible for more than 50% of the changes seen in worldwide  climate since 1950.  Changes before 1950 are considered normal climate variation.

Many of the predictions made in that 2007 IPCC document  have proven to be wrong.   Their specific short term temperature predictions have, so far at least, been way off the mark.   I have been wondering how the global warming community would try to tiptoe around that fact.  This article offers a glimpse into this new reality of global warming climate predictions with the following statement:

The climate response to this forcing and society’s response to climate change are complicated by the system’s inertia, mainly due to the ocean and the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica together with the long residence time of fossil fuel carbon in the climate system. The inertia causes climate to appear to respond slowly to this human-made forcing, but further long-lasting responses can be locked in.

Okay, I suppose.   Society’s response is an odd addition to the statement.

In 2007 the IPCC said warming was already locked in, now it’s still locked in….but the actual warming might not show up for a while….how convenient.    IPCC reports since 1990 have insisted that warming since 1976 has proven their case.  As soon as that warming wanes a bit, short term data no longer matters.

Lots of controversy in the very first paragraph of the introduction.   Wow.   I’d better move on or I’ll never finish this post.

The introduction continues with a few paragraphs describing  IPCC history, followed by a few paragraphs about energy use.  Near the end of the introduction, the article begins advocating for a serious reduction in total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions  with the following statement:

Our evaluation of a fossil fuel emissions limit is not based on climate models but rather on observational evidence of global climate change as a function of global temperature and on the fact that climate stabilization requires long-term planetary energy balance. We use measured global temperature and Earth’s measured energy imbalance to determine the atmospheric CO2 level required to stabilize climate at today’s global temperature

This paper does not use computer models, it simply looks at lots of regional data (cherry picked regional data) and draws conclusions based on those observations.  Correlations are presumed.  Many many identified events are presumed to be the direct result of a 1 degree C change in climate.   Factoids that do not support the position are simply ignored.

This study starts with three assumptions; 1)man is responsible for the energy imbalance they see, 2) if we severely reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gases,  an energy balance can be restored, and 3) climate stability will be achieved.

I think all three assumptions are likely wrong!  Man probably deserves some credit for recent warming, but not sole credit.   Remove all man caused effects and climate still changes.   The notion that any specific level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can all by itself stabilize climate at any specific temperature is… well…it’s just extra special stupid.   And it’s the base premise of this entire article!

Why would anyone ever assume climate in the world can be stabilized at any specific temperature?  We live in an ice age cycle.   It has been lots warmer than it is today and lots colder as this Antarctic ice core demonstrates:

https://i2.wp.com/blog.world-mysteries.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/ice_age_graph.jpg

Temperature varies by about 11 degrees C in the average ice age cycle.   The warm periods tend to be short, the cold periods tend to be long.   We live in the Holocene, an 11,000 year period of unusually stable warm temperatures.   Ice ages are presumed to be caused by the location of the continents and variations in solar irradiance due in part to variations in the Earth’s orbit.

The goal of the article is to keep temperatures at or below the temperature experienced in 1990, which is about 1 degree C higher than it was in 1750.   This  is an  unrealistic and unachievable goal.  Temperature is not now and has never been that stable.  Just look at the movement we have witnessed in  the last 45 years:

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7e/Satellite_Temperatures.png/800px-Satellite_Temperatures.png

The late 1970’s were more than a degree cooler than it was in 1998.  1998 was a strong El Nino year.  In June of 1991, Mt. Pinatubo erupted, changing the climate for over a year and causing a decline of almost 1 degree C.    Just imagine what would happen if a volcano 5 or 10 times bigger than Mt. Pinatubo erupted.   We’d all be wishing for a warmer world.

If we did exactly as Dr. Hansen recommends, would the world magically become stable climatically? I don’t think so. It might be a bit cooler, but stability is an unachievable goal.

Surprisingly, there has been nearly no net change in climate since 1987.   In 1987 we were .2 degree C above the base line and in late 2013 we are still about .2 degree C above the base line.  Temperatures have the ability to warm and cool rather dramatically all by themselves and yet, these past 25 years have been boringly stable.

And that is a political problem for Dr. Hansen and the IPCC.

Sea Level to Rise 3 Feet, Maybe

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is about a year away from publishing their next Climate Synthesis Report. IPCC report drafts are about halfway through their 2 year review process.  Tasty tidbits have become cannon fodder for the press.  Gloom and doom is everywhere.  I have read articles in my local paper, the Huffington Post and the New York Times.

The IPCC is now more certain than ever that man made carbon dioxide is seriously impacting the climate.  Temperatures will rise and so will the sea level.   They are now, according to the leaked data, expecting sea level to be 3 feet higher than it is today in 21oo.     The recent cooler weather is being blamed on short term factors.

Hmmm…short term factors.   That’s a new concept for the IPCC.  It should be interesting reading.  The world has not been doing as the IPCC predicted and they appear to feel the need to explain themselves.  I suspect guessing.

Of course I like to guess too.  My favorite guess is visible air pollution.  And by that I don’t mean carbon dioxide, I mean smog.  Smog blocks the Suns radiation and cools the climate and it also makes the ice in the Arctic less white, making it melt faster.   And since smog is more prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern, it would help explain why the Antarctic has not been melting.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center states  the following:

Arctic sea ice extent maintained a steady, near-average pace of retreat through the first half of August, making it highly unlikely that a new record low minimum will be reached this year. Nevertheless, there are extensive areas of low concentration ice, even in regions close to the North Pole, atmospheric pressure and temperature patterns this summer have differed markedly from those experienced in 2012; cooler than average conditions have prevailed over much of the Arctic Ocean. By contrast, Antarctic sea ice is near a record maximum extent for mid-August.

ANTARCTIC SEA ICE IS NEAR A RECORD MAXIMUM.   A lot of that ice is going to have to melt.  Melting in the Antarctic and Greenland are necessary for sea level to rise.

A rising sea level is a problem and a 3 foot rise is a big problem.   Recent IPCC studies blame air pollution more and carbon dioxide less than does the 2007 IPCC Synopses Report.  The leaked information is preliminary because it must be reviewed.  That review includes a political scrubbing.   And since the IPCC is a very political place I suspect air pollution will once again be ignored.

Air pollution, and soot in particular, is more of a problem in the developing world and less of a problem in the USA, so we know where the UN will come down on that issue.  Don’t we?

BBC China Emissions Story makes common mistakes

A recent BBC News article titled China in carbon trading experiment was disappointing. The story makes two significant factual errors.

Mistake #1 – A photo that misrepresents.

The article features the following photo:

This photo is of visible air pollution.  Carbon dioxide is colorless.   China has big time air pollution problems because they burn lots of coal and don’t clean it properly.  The air is full of all sorts of cancer causing crap that China has become famous for.  But if they invested is scrubbing equipment they could significantly improve their air quality and still have the same carbon dioxide problem they have now.

Every carbon dioxide article in the world seems to make this mistake.  But every time I see it I get a bit annoyed.

Mistake #2 – They misquoted the China position on carbon dioxide.

The article says the following:

 Beijing is aiming for a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 from 2005 levels, without specifying how it will achieve that goal.

China plans to reduce their carbon production per unit of GDP by 40% from 2005 levels by 2020.  The two sound almost the same but the difference is huge statistically.   China’s GDP has more than doubled since 2005 as the following China GDP chart demonstratives:

https://i1.wp.com/www.financialblogonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/china-gdp.gif

The Economist predicts that in 2020 China will have a GDP of 22.9 Trillion dollars.  Their GDP in 2005 was 2.26 Trillion dollars.   If they reduce their emissions per unit of GDP by 40% then they would increase their carbon dioxide production by about 600%.  The arithmetic looks like this:

(22.9 – .4*22.9)/2.26 = 6.1

The BBC said the Chinese pledged a 40% reduction when the really pledged a 6 fold increase.

Details …details…those pesky details.

I expect the law of large numbers to begin to impact China very soon.   They have an aging population and an economy driven by cheap labor that is becoming less cheap every day.  Perhaps a 4 fold increase is carbon production from 2005 levels is more likely.   A 40% reduction from 2005 levels was never a possibility.

Zero Emission Electric Vehicles in Hawaii

Every January I abandon Alaska for Hawaii.  My first day in Hawaii and what do I see….a Nissan Leaf all electric car.  I’d never seen one on a road before.  Alaska vehicles are more about ground clearance and all wheel drive; Hawaii has many small vehicles that are easy to park and frugal to operate.   Hawaii also has lots of luxury vehicles that are all about status.  Lexus SUVs, and Jaguars are popular here.

Ah well…back to the Leaf.   Nissan has placed the big lie of Electric vehicles in clear view on the tailgate….a sign saying Zero Emission.   I’m sorry, there is no such thing.   Any electric appliance has air emissions and pollution associated with it….the emissions and pollution produced at the power plant.

There is always some carbon emissions and air pollution at the power plant.  Even wind and solar installations have emissions associated with manufacture, transportation, installation, maintenance and retirement.   Oahu produces most of its power in OIL fired generators at big power plants.   Oahu does have some solar and wind, but the wind is a very small component and the solar is almost entirely residential. Virtually all power used when the sun is not shining is oil based.

Normally I would be OK with an electric auto, but not in Hawaii.  In most parts of the USA, power is generated using natural gas or coal or hydro or nuclear and all are domestic sources of energy.  In those cases electric cars aid our drive for energy independence.  When the source of electricity is coal or oil, an electric car actually pollutes more than a modern gasoline vehicle.

In Hawaii a person driving an electric vehicle is simply changing the location of the oil consumption.  Throw in the considerable disposal problems presented by the Leaf’s batteries and you have an expensive car with lousy range that  effectively burns oil and pollutes the environment.

And Hawaii has a subsidy to provide electric fueling stations…go figure.