Just Hot or Global Warming?

heatwaveThe temperature this week will be pushing, if not passing, 100 degrees in Davis, but in reality we have no right to complain.  While it has been warm at times this summer, we have nothing like the stifling and unrelenting heat wave of the Midwest.

I tend to watch St. Louis as a barometer.  They were having day after day of 105, 107, 108 degree temperatures – record highs, virtually unheard of.  Unheard of perhaps, but not completely unprecedented. St. Louis experienced ten straight days of 100 degree plus heat from June 28 until July 7, but that has been topped before in 1936 by 13 straight days.  That was, interestingly enough, the year of the Dust Bowl.

Other cities tied records.  Chicago hit 100 degrees for three straight days, tying the record from 1911 and 1947.  Minneapolis hit the 100 mark twice, first time that’s happened since 1988 when there were four.  And Washington DC hit it four straight days, tying a record from 1930.

Is it unprecedented?  Perhaps, but the fact that there were 3125 daily high temperature records in the month of June should be a cause for at least some concern.

Naturally, every time it gets hot, those who believe that we are in the midst of global warming trot it out as an example of global warming, but they make similar mistakes to the opponents who question global warming every time there is a cold spell – weather and climate are not the same things and so, at a local level for a short period of time, you can have extreme heat and cold and it is not a sign of anything.

Conservative commentator George Will drew the ire of some when he suggested that there was a good explanation for the extreme weather, and it is called “summer.”

“How do we explain the heat? One word: summer,” he said on Sunday. “I grew up in central Illinois in a house without air conditioning. What is so unusual about this?”

“Come the winter, there will be a cold snap, lots of snow, and the same guys, like E.J. [Dionne, a Washington Post columnist], will start lecturing us,” he said. “There’s a difference between the weather and the climate. I agree with that. We’re having some hot weather. Get over it.”

To me, the bigger problem that deniers of global warming have is that the climate is showing signs of heating up.  The ten hottest recorded years have occurred in the last 20 years.

And you have climate scientists who are suggesting this is a view of coming attractions.  At the same time, they warn it is far too soon to say that global warming is the cause.

“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level,” said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. “The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.”

Reports the Huffington Post, “As recently as March, a special report on extreme events and disasters by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of ‘unprecedented extreme weather and climate events.’ “

Its lead author, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University, said Monday, “It’s really dramatic how many of the patterns that we’ve talked about as the expression of the extremes are hitting the U.S. right now.”

“What we’re seeing really is a window into what global warming really looks like,” said Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer. “It looks like heat. It looks like fires. It looks like this kind of environmental disasters.”

Reports the Post, “Oppenheimer said that on Thursday. That was before the East Coast was hit with triple-digit temperatures and before a derecho – a large, powerful and long-lasting straight-line wind storm – blew from Chicago to Washington. The storm and its aftermath killed more than 20 people and left millions without electricity. Experts say it had energy readings five times that of normal thunderstorms.”

They add, “Fueled by the record high heat, this was among the strongest of this type of storm in the region in recent history, said research meteorologist Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storm Laboratory in Norman, Okla. Scientists expect ‘non-tornadic wind events’ like this one and other thunderstorms to increase with climate change because of the heat and instability, he said.”

But before those who believe that global warming is before us do chestbumps (if you celebrate on being right about horrible things), as Dan Vergano with the Science report for USA Today points out, climate scientists “caution against pointing to a warming climate as the direct cause of any one bit of wild weather this year, even as much of the nation sweated out a record-breaking heat wave through the start of July, one expected to break by Monday.”

“There is a little bit of truth in both views,” says Princeton climate scientist Ngar-Cheung Lau. “What we can say is that the long-term trend is for heat waves to have longer durations and higher temperatures.”

And not all scientists agree on what this means.

Some climate scientists, such as Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry, dismiss connections between global warming and U.S. heat waves, reports Mr. Vergano.

“We saw these kinds of heat waves in the 1930s, and those were definitely not caused by greenhouse gases,” she noted recently on her website, Climate Etc. “I don’t think that what we are seeing this summer is outside the range of natural variability for the past century.”

The Huntsville Alabama paper cites state climatologist and University of Alabama in Huntsville climate scientist Dr. John Christy, who argues  that Alabama’s heat wave “is just part of the normal climate roller coaster, not global warming.”

Professor Christy wrote that “four very hot Alabama summers over the past six years, plus June temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit this year, raise the question of whether ‘the state might be returning to the hotter summer climate that was once normal for this part of the country.’ “

While summer temperatures were the hottest six days in a summer stretch in more than fifty years, there were another nine times over the last 129 years that temperatures were even hotter over a similar length of time.

“Since (today’s) temperatures aren’t higher than earlier temperatures, it doesn’t look like ‘global warming,’ ” Professor Christy said, “but more like a problem we still wrestle with: unpredictable natural variability.” Christy said no one knows what causes these natural shifts in climate.

“The heat wave today is primarily natural climate variability,” said Dr. William Patzert, an global climate change researcher with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.  “But it’s also a preview of coming attractions of what we are contributing to the atmosphere in greenhouse gases, which is definitely gonna heat it up.”

“I am sounding the warning about what global warming will do out into the future,” Mr. Patzert said.

Mr. Patzert notes that the earth as a whole is about 1.6 degrees warmer than it was 129 years ago when Alabama began keeping the weather records that Professor Christy cites.

He adds, “The unequivocal proof of that is that much of that warming has gone into the oceans.  We have seen an 8 inch rise in global sea level.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, surveying wildfires in Colorado Springs earlier this week, remarked on the “pattern” evident in the weather.

“You have to look at climate change over a period of years, not just one summer,” Secretary Napolitano said. “You could always have one abnormal summer. But when you see one after another after another then you can see, yeah, there’s a pattern here.”

The take-away message here needs to be one of caution.  Most climate scientists are concerned that these types of heat waves and storms and droughts and wildfires will become more frequent in a future that has global warming.

At the same time that most are very concerned with that prospect, they cannot state that this episode was caused by global warming.

A Detroit area meteorologist, Paul Gross, explains the problem well: “Several people have asked me if this heat wave was caused by global warming.  The answer is no, global warming did not cause the heat wave.  Heat waves are part of our history:  they happened in the past, and will happen in the future. “

At the same time, “HOWEVER, our planet’s sharply warming climate likely made it worse (same thing with our March heat wave).  Global warming is clearly increasing the number of severe heat waves:  The European heat wave in 2003 was the hottest summer on record there since at least the year 1540, and it killed 35,000 people.  The Russian heat wave of 2010 was their hottest one since 1880.  We had extraordinary heat waves here in the U.S. both last year and this year.  And who can forgot the heat wave of 1988…here in Detroit, we had four days of 100 degrees or above, and thirty-nine 90 degree days.”

He noted that since the 1990s, in Detroit, “Record heat outnumbered record cold by a three-to-one ratio in the 1990s, and by a six-to-one ratio in the 2000s.  This is proof of a strong warm forcing on Detroit’s climate because, with our long climate record, at this point we would see a much more equal distribution of cold and warm records.”

The public is not there yet, however, on climate change.

A Washington Post poll taken before the recent heat wave showed just 18 percent of respondents call global warming the single biggest environmental problem.

That 18 percent is the lowest point in some years.  It is down from 33 percent in 2007.  Today 29 percent identify water and air pollution as the world’s most pressing environmental issue.

Even though it has slid, 55 percent said the U.S. government should take a “great deal” or “quite a bit” of action.

And 78 percent believe that if nothing is done to reduce global warming, it will be a very serious (40 percent) or somewhat serious (38 percent) problem for the United States.

Thirty-two percent said the U.S. government should do a “great deal” about global warming, 23 percent said “quite a bit” and 26 percent believe the government should take “some” action.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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33 thoughts on “Just Hot or Global Warming?”

  1. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Thirty-two percent said the U.S. government should do a “great deal” about global warming, 23 percent said “quite a bit” and 26 percent believe the government should take “some” action.[/quote]

    And what exactly can the U.S. do about global warming, when the lion’s share of the responsibility for it, if the theory of global warming is even true, lies with China and India, who care not a whit and pollute the air to their hearts’ content? My hope is that we, as a nation, will move towards alternative fuels, but thus far I have not seen a cohesive energy plan come out of any administration at the federal level. Energy independence is crucial for a number of different reasons, other than the possibility it might address the global warming theory…

  2. Frankly

    Lefties can thank Al Gore.

    The problem here has been the rise of liberal Democrats in national politics at the same time science has become obsessed with this theory. The low and dropping percentage of people believing that global warming is a serious problem, or that it is man-made, or that there is anything worthwhile we can do about it – is indicative of a lack of trust… a lack of trust caused by the politicization of science.

    Unfortunately for science, its brand has been tarnished by the left politicians that have tried to exploit it for political gain. The timing has been terrible… at the same time Democrats have taken to demonizing free-market capitalism, they also claim that industrial man is killing the planet… and hence should be reined in with greater regulation and restriction. This leads the average person to conclude that the scientific theories of global warming are political tools of the left for winning their ideological war… then when we follow the money trail and see that science is mostly funded by government… scientists are suspected as being motivated to support politics that feed their livelihood.

    It didn’t used to be this way. In fact it was right-leaning politicians that first responded to scientific concerns.

    From Wikipedia:

    [quote]In most English-speaking countries, support for action to mitigate global warming, such as ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is strong on the political left.

    However, the first politician putting Global Warming on the political agenda was Richard Nixon 1969[2]. Nixon wanted environmental topics (as acid rain and greenhouse effect) to be treated by a third and civil pillar of NATO. The reaction of the NATO allies was lukewarm but the initiative gained impact in the civil field.[2]

    In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher was instrumental in increasing the United Kingdom’s electricity generation from North Sea gas and reducing generation from coal.[3]

    In Germany Angela Merkel, then secretary of the environment during the conservative Helmut Kohl government, lead the German Kyoto Delegation and had a substantial role in making the Kyoto agreement possible.[4]

    In December 2007, Kevin Rudd’s first act as prime minister of Australia was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in time for the Kyoto Protocol talks in Bali.[5].[/quote]

    If your political leanings are left, you might not understand this point. You might not be able to accept how the words and actions of Barak Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi (before she was banished to a smaller office and leadership role, thank God) resonate as attacks against the worldviews and belief system of a large percentage of the population. You would be pissed at Republicans and conservatives for denying capitulation to the rarified air of the scientific community. You would likely be convinced that too many people are unnecessarily suffering, the world is dying, and humanity is prone to cruelty, unfairness and self-destruction… and that the “stupid” righties are blind to and complicit in this grand malady.

    If the current scientific theories of man-made global warming are correct, in the future we can all look back and blame each other for failing to act. Lefties can blame righties for being stupid, and righties can blame lefties for politicizing the science.

  3. Don Shor

    I addressed the impact of temperature changes on plant hardiness zones in my recent Davis Enterprise column: [url]http://redwoodbarn.com/DE_Junequestions.html[/url]

  4. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Obviously I expect the US to sit back as crops fail and oceans rise and weather patterns are disrupted and do nothing[/quote]

    Actually I think the US is doing something, and that is pushing for alternative fuels. However, the feds have not really gotten behind this idea, bc it is too beholden to the oil industry. But if the US can really come up with a decent and popular alternative fuel car; and start using alternative fuels that make us energy independent, the rest of the world will probably come along eventually…

  5. Frankly

    [i]”And what exactly can the U.S. do about global warming, when the lion’s share of the responsibility for it, if the theory of global warming is even true, lies with China and India, who care not a whit and pollute the air to their hearts’ content?”[/i]

    Elaine, this is a great point. I suppose one could make the argument that the US is the world leader and should do the right thing. So, if we believe in man-made global warming and the dire consequences that David and Don expect, we should implement policies that restrict greenhouse gases because it is the right thing to do. However, before we do this – related to your point – we should ask two questions:

    1. Will it solve the problem?

    2. What will the cost be?

    These two questions get to my fundamental issue with the global warming scare-fest. Even if we believe it is righteous to start implementing extreme measures to reduce greenhouse gas, it is not likely to help solve the problem because, as you mention, India and China and other developing economies are not doing the same. Then we get to add the crippling impacts to our economy as we layer more regulations and restrictions on business… that by the way, still lack viable affordable options to replace fossil fuel energy. And the impact of this is that China and India get to grow their pollution-spewing industrial base and win more of the global economic war.

    You don’t need a degree in climatology to recognize the relative thinness of our atmosphere. You don’t need a degree in astrophysics to note that life-sustaining planets are rare occurrences. It makes rational sense to care for our environment because it appears fragile and rare. However, it also makes sense to consider humans as being a key component of that environment.

    To borrow an Al Gore term, the human requirement is an [b]inconvenient truth[/b] complicating the agenda of the environmentalist. Because, if it was not for all the damn humans on this planet, our environment would be pristine!

  6. rusty49

    “Because, if it was not for all the damn humans on this planet, our environment would be pristine!”

    But just think Jeff, the deer and the antelope would be so warm and fuzzy inside. Oooops, there would still be those pesky mountain lions, wolves, lions, tigers and bears oh my…..

  7. wdf1

    DMG: [i]So rather than play the blame game Jeff, how do we fix the problem?[/i]

    Don Shor: [i]International organizations and NGO’s need to change their focus from mitigation to adaptation.[/i]

    Or you could pretend it’s not happening. “Problem? Don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no data to corroborate your position.”

    6/5/12, LA Times: North Carolina’s wishful-thinking solution to global warming ([url]http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/05/news/la-ol-north-carolina-may-ban-global-warming-study-20120605[/url])

    But Don’s right. We’re beyond any reasonable chance of mitigation.

  8. Frankly

    David: [i]So rather than play the blame game Jeff, how do we fix the problem?[/i]

    Don: [i]International organizations and NGO’s need to change their focus from mitigation to adaptation.[/i]

    I agree with Don answering David’s question.

    In addition…

    – Invest in technology innovation for producing cleaner energy.
    – Advance nuclear power generation.
    – Invest in converting coal and oil-burning power plants to cleaner burning natural gas to take advantage of the energy bonanza from frak drilling technology.
    – Incentivize green development (but do not restrict or penalize business without viable and affordable options).

    My thinking is… with some work on adaption, fossil fuels will deplete and green alternatives will become the more affordable choice before the earth is so severely damaged by man-made climate change. So, in consideration of that, I am doing my part with my truck, cars, quads, motorcycles, boats and lawn equipment. Eventually these things will all be battery-powered, and that will be ok with me.

  9. wdf1

    JB: [i]So, in consideration of that, I am doing my part with my truck, cars, quads, motorcycles, boats and lawn equipment. Eventually these things will all be battery-powered, and that will be ok with me.[/i]

    You over-sensitive tree-hugger!

  10. David M. Greenwald

    Unfortunately the US needed to be where it is now 20 years ago. Had the US really taken the lead on this issue, we would be in the position to both have the moral authority and the technology to deal with these problems. Instead, the rest of the world’s response is rightly going to be – well if the US can’t get its act together, why should we?

  11. Frankly

    Rusty49: [i]But just think Jeff, the deer and the antelope would be so warm and fuzzy inside. Oooops, there would still be those pesky mountain lions, wolves, lions, tigers and bears oh my…..[/i]

    Ha! Yes, This reminds me of the Sierra Club working to protect mountain lions, and then later working to re-introduce Sierra Bighorn Sheep. And then the mountain lion were eating all these rare Bighorn Sheep.

    Those poor mountain lions fell quickly from being politically-correct. If only the government could have implemented a strict hunting policy those lions would follow….

  12. Don Shor

    Moral authority doesn’t persuade anybody. The big developing countries — China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, etc. — aren’t the least bit concerned whether we increase or decrease our production of greenhouse gases. Their decisions, like ours, will be made on the basis of the economic needs of their citizens. And in China’s case, in the need to maintain a growing, prosperous middle class so the leadership can retain control of the country. They aren’t going to stop opening new coal plants or cut their use of fossil fuels because it’s environmentally desirable. They will, however, invest in — and buy — alternative energy sources in order to diversify and plan for a future with less fossil fuels. Which they are all doing.

    Technology doesn’t advance based on enthusiasm or wishful thinking. It’s a combination of funding for basic research (mostly government) and market applications of the results.

  13. Frankly

    [i]You over-sensitive tree-hugger![/i]

    That’s me! At least the tree-hugger part… =)

    [i]”What dire consequences are you assuming that I expect?”[/i]

    Don, my bad. I assumed you were in agreement with David’s point that crops would fail and oceans would rise as a result of man-made global warming. I should not assume.

  14. Don Shor

    Oceans are rising, will rise, and affected countries should plan for it. That would be happening regardless because we are coming out of an Ice Age. We can deduce that it’s happening faster than it would have, due to the addition of CO2 and methane, among other things. More affluent countries already have the planning processes in place and the infrastructure to deal with that. If your oceanfront property on the Carolina coast is threatened, and it’s worth it to save it, it’ll be saved. The international community may need to help some countries deal with changing sea level as low-lying habitable land gets inundated. Holland has the resources to hold back the sea and create great farmland, but Bangladesh probably needs assistance. It takes time, planning, engineering, and money. Bangladesh has some of that, but not all of it.

    Cropping patterns will change, some for the better, some for the worse. Crops already fail sometimes. Ag scientists and breeders are always working on ways to prevent crop failures. They are also working on ways to extend agricultural production into less favorable areas (salt-tolerance of grain crops, for example). I am much less concerned about the impact of increased temperatures on agriculture than are many climate alarmists.

  15. Rifkin

    Don Shor: [i]”I addressed the impact of temperature changes on plant hardiness zones in my recent Davis Enterprise column.”[/i]

    I addressed the hottest summer in the history of Davis in my last column ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/hot-summer-weather-is-old-news-in-davis/[/url]): That was the summer of 1925. What I did not get into is the fact that our summers in Davis have not been getting appreciably hotter in the last 100 years. Unlike most of the rest of the country, it was hotter* in Davis in the 1960s and in the 1970s than it was over the last 10 years. However, our winters have greatly warmed.

    For those who are not [s]flat earth fox news stupid f&cks[/s] or otherwise cannot understand that the consensus view of climate scientists on global warming is true, IPCC and UC Davis climate science professor Byran Weare, who has studied our region in particular, told me years ago that his model predicted we would have warmer winters. And Prof. Weare, of course, was right.
    *Keep in mind that temps reported for Davis (by the NWS) are taken just outside of town and are designed so that there are no urbanization effects. … Note also that due to the construction of West Village, the meteorology station for Davis was recently moved to avoid any impacts WV would have on the measured temperature.

  16. Rifkin

    Here is an excerpt from my column ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/hot-summer-weather-is-old-news-in-davis/[/url]):

    [i]The all-time heat wave for Davis struck in June 1925.

    On June 24, the mercury hit 113 degrees. On June 25, a Friday, Davis was 115 degrees. We have never had a single day that hot since. On June 26, it cooled down to 112.

    The June 26, 1925, afternoon edition of the Sacramento Bee said the heat wave had struck all of “Superior California.”

    “At Rio Vista, Solano County,” the Bee reported, “the heat expanded the steel framework of the drawbridge connecting Solano and Sacramento counties to such an extent that the structure could not be closed. It was necessary for workmen to cut off a part of each section of the bridge with acetylene torches before the bridge could be closed.”

    In Loomis, mercury tubes reportedly were bursting. In San Francisco, where it was 95 degrees at 11:45 a.m. on June 24, the cable cars stopped running, due to damage caused by the heat.

    A 56-year-old farmer in Willows died from the heat, as did a farm laborer in Yolo County. The Davis Enterprise reported that a 60-year-old fruit picker, M. Carroll of Vallejo, died on the J.L. Smith Ranch in Winters, “after he had been prostrated with the heat.”

    Just outside of Davis that week, there was an out-of-control grass fire on the ranch of John B. Anderson, who had served as the first mayor of Davis in 1917. Anderson was burning grass and weeds on his property one mile west of the city limit (today’s Anderson Road, where Save-Mart is located), when the heat got the best of him.

    The Enterprise reported, “(Anderson) overdid the thing a bit, while in the act of burning grass and weeds, which combined with a fairly warm sun reflection came near putting him out. He was barely able to get to the house and was several hours coming out of it.” [/i]

  17. Rifkin

    ELAINE: [i]”And what exactly can the U.S. do about global warming …”[/i]

    The best global solution to global warming is to charge an international effluent tax on carbon, methane and other greenhouse gas emissions.

    All of the money raised by the tax should be used to subsidize fuels which emit less carbon or no carbon or to technologies which help capture or sequester greenhouse gases.

    ELAINE: [i]”… when [b]the lion’s share[/b] of the responsibility for it, if the theory of global warming is even true, lies with China and India, who care not a whit and pollute the air to their hearts’ content?”[/i]

    The lion’s share? China + India account for much less than the U.S. + Europe. But please, don’t let facts get in the way or your argument. Here are the top 10 emitters of CO2 ([url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions[/url]), based on thousands of metric tonnes emitted in 2008*:

    1 China 7,031,916 (23.33%)
    2 United States 5,461,014 (18.11%)
    – European Union 4,177,817 (14.04%)
    3 India 1,742,698 (5.78%)
    4 Russia 1,708,653 (5.67%)
    5 Japan 1,208,163 (4.01%)
    6 Germany 786,660 (2.61%)
    7 Canada 544,091 (1.80%)
    8 Iran 538,404 (1.79%)
    9 United Kingdom 522,856 (1.73%)
    10 South Korea 509,170 (1.69%)

    *I could not find more recent numbers than 2008 from Wikipedia. However, I suspect that due to the global economic meltdown, the CO2 emissions are lower now for most countries than they were then.

  18. Don Shor

    [i]”However, our winters have greatly warmed.”
    I don’t think that’s true, else the USDA zones would have changed. They only reflect winter temperatures. Here’s an interactive map that shows little change in California.
    I know by direct analysis of chilling hours data for fruit trees that they have not decreased in our area. So I think your statement is incorrect.

  19. Frankly

    Rich, you compare the US and 27 other countries to refute Elaine’s point that China and India are spewing the most C02. That hardly seems fair.

    It reminds me of my father spliting the weekly chores between me and my two younger brothers. He saw it as two entities. I saw it as three.

  20. rusty49

    I like it how the example above bunched the European Union which consists of 27 COUNTRIES in order to come to a combined CO2 total of 32% with the US while the India plus China total came to 29%. Hardly “much less”.
    But ERM is probably closer to now being on track as here’s a quote from an Oct. 2009 article:

    “China has now overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest polluter; its carbon emissions have more than doubled in a decade. However, US and China, world’s biggest polluters, promise to address global climate change at the Climate Change Summit at the UN General Assembly in New York, recently.

    India, now the fourth biggest polluter, is also rapidly increasing its emissions, and is increasing its population of 1.15 billion people far faster than any other country; soon its human numbers will be on a par with China’s and its emissions following suit.”


  21. Rifkin

    RICH: [i]”However, our winters have greatly warmed.” [/i]

    DON: [i]”I don’t think that’s true …”[/i]

    I should not have said “greatly.” I simply should have said “our winters have warmed.” Unless I made an input error in my calculations, the average daytime high temperature for Davis has gone up bit by bit over the last 5 decades.

    I was going to give you a link to my data source, which was from the UCD Atmospheric Science program, but I cannot find it on their website.

  22. Rifkin

    [i]”Rich, you compare the US and 27 other countries to refute Elaine’s point that China and India are spewing the most C02.”[/i]

    My point holds: While China and India, each of which have way more people than Europe has, are important players in CO2 effluence, they don’t produce “the lion’s share.”

    Also, it’s funny that you would think “those are just two countries” while Rich pointed to a large group of countries. So you think it makes more sense to compare Luxembourg and San Marino with China and India?

  23. jimt

    The Fukushima incident after the tsunami last year has further decreased public confidence in nuclear power in Japan and Europe; likely shifting sentiment more toward fossil fuels and renewable energy.

    Starting in the 1980s and continuing until the present; a large proportion of PhD physicists and mathematicians have been lured to Wall Street; due both to job shortages in physics research and to the temptation to get rich. What a collossal waste of brainpower (or ‘human resources’ in modern corporo-speak). All the fancy derivitive and other financial instruments developed by these guys to get an edge in the trading market; including development of computers to give micro-second edges in trading speed response; made many of them very rich and brought in money for their firms; perhaps you could argue it resulted in more efficient allocation of capitol, and eventually led to the 2008 financial fiasco; continuing into the current absurdly over-leveraged positions of the major banks and wall street finance.

    Imagine if all that brain-power had been put to use over the last 30 years in conceptualizing, designing, and developing fool-proof and terrorism-proof nuclear and natural-disaster-proof reactor designs, and nuclear reactors that produced a minimum volume of ‘hot’ waste!
    Of course that scientific brainpower would have needed to be allied with political/regulatory clout to be effective; e.g. via IAEA to have put pressure on the Fukushima site; to either shut down or at least move some of their diesel back-up generators underground, just in case a large tsunami struck!

    Instead, the USA and the world has suffered a vapid waste of brainpower, sucking some of the best minds on the planet to the churning Wall Street casino, developing financial instruments the interaction of which nobody really understands, and helping enable the blowing up of bigger bubbles !
    So we are left with more reliance on fossil fuels (free-marketeers can still celebrate; Wall Street can’t wait to get their hands on those carbon-credit trading schemes; Washington had better damn sure design legislation that boosts carbon credits that are a boon to Wall Street!)

  24. Don Shor

    Slow progress, but note the new safety design.

  25. Rifkin

    Hey Don: FWIW, I sent an email to Prof. Bryan Weare of UCD Atmospheric Sciences and asked him for a copy of the weather database that I used to calculate average daytime highs in Davis going back to the mid-1960s. I have not yet heard back from Weare, but if and when I do, I will try to re-compile the information and let you know the actual numbers.

  26. E Roberts Musser

    To Rich Rifkin: inre CO2 emissions from your own figures –
    Chine + India = 29.11% AND RISING
    United States = 18.11 %

    Your insist on global warming and refer to anyone who doesn’t believe it “[s]flat earth fox news stupid f&cks[/s]”, yet you contradict your own position by noting:
    [quote]I addressed the hottest summer in the history of Davis in my last column: That was the summer of 1925. What I did not get into is the fact that our summers in Davis have not been getting appreciably hotter in the last 100 years.[/quote]

  27. Frankly

    jimt, Good post. I largely agree. However, I don’t think all of these people went to Wall Street to get rich. Many just went to satiate their need for attention/ego and to win at complex games. Read the book “The Quants” for a very good account of the main players. They started by counting cards at Vegas and then had to move on to the greater gaming challenges of Wall Street.

    It is ironic that some scientists are pushing global warming theories and being vocal in support of public policies that would serve to impact the economy, while other scientists were the definitive enablers of the near destruction of the housing and financial markets. The final analysis is clear… scientists can be bad for our economic health.

    Rifkin: [i]”So you think it makes more sense to compare Luxembourg and San Marino with China and India?”[/i]

    I wasn’t comparing, I was making the point that Elaine’s original point was valid and your objection to it had some flaws.

    Certainly the EU can operate as one policy body deciding carbon emission standards and rules. However, there are a few related facts that give strength to the point Elaine was making:

    – The EU is already plagued with an extreme green agenda and leads the world in the use of renewable energy, green development and green technologies. There is less capacity for additional reductions.

    – The economies of China and India are growing 3-4 times as much as the EU… in fact the EU economies appear to be shrinking and will for a while.

    So, Elaine’s point that it does not make much difference for the US to adopt more restrictive carbon emission policies when the two next biggest (countries) spewers of carbon will not do the same… is on solid ground.

    On a related note, I just read a report that pins solar and wind power farms as contributing to global warming.

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