U.S. Chamber Chastises Apple CEO for “Forfeiting Opportunity” on Climate Change

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Thomas J. Donohue
Thomas J. Donohue

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Thomas J. Donohue has written a letter to Steve Jobs chastising Apple's CEO for "forfeiting the opportunity" to work with the organization to approach climate change in a way the Chamber deems prudent. The letter comes on the heels of Apple resigning the Chamber for its environmental policies.

"I am sorry to learn of Apple's resignation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," Mr. Donohue wrote in a letter obtained by The Mac Observer. "It is unfortunate that your company didn't take the time to understand the Chamber's position on climate and forfeited the opportunity to advance a 21st century approach to climate change."

The ruckus built to a head on the Chamber's opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to regulate greenhouse emissions. The Chamber believes that the EPA's approach will cost American jobs, and move greenhouse gas-producing manufacutring overseas to less or unregulated countries.

Apple, one of the most successful companies in the U.S, left the Chamber due to differences on this policy and approach to the subject of climate change.

"Apple is committed to protecting the environment and the communities in which we operate around the world," Catherine Novelli, Apple Vice President of Worldwide Government Affairs, said in a letter to the Chamber announcing the company's departure from the organization. "We strongly object to the Chamber's recent comments opposing the EPA's effort to limit greenhouse gasses."

In his public response to Apple, Mr. Donohue wrote, "I would have hoped that Apple would have supported our efforts to improve environmental stewardship and keep Americans at work and our economy competitive."

 

Comments

Bryan Chaffin

Mr. Donohue then closed his letter with a screed repeating the head-in-the-sand, obfuscating, obstructionist, do-nothing position the Chamber has taken under Mr. Donohue’s tenure.

John Martellaro

Staying in the game and making positive contributions has to be weighed against appearing to be complicit in something undesirable.

How to chose? Long after the temporary fanfare for bowing out is forgotten, people will one day wonder why you’re not in the game, working for change.

Quitting is a statement that seems strong for awhile. But what it really says in the long run is that you don’t want to assume a leadership role. Refusing to play if you can’t win right away is a Western idea, not the Eastern, patient approach.

Montresor

Seriously? This styrofoam-headed lizard wants to publicly go toe-to-toe with Jobs?

Is he on medication?

rwahrens

“Refusing to play if you can?t win right away is a Western idea, not the Eastern, patient approach.”

Seriously?  Then explain how recent elections in Eastern countries, such as Pakistan, are sabotaged by opposition parties refusing to run candidates, is a “Western” idea!  I’ve not seen anybody from a major Western power, in an opposition position, refuse to “play” in an election.

It is perfectly reasonable to refuse to lend one’s hard earned reputation to a cause one disagrees with.  Apple has worked hard these last couple of years to remake their reputation in the environmental field, and this is merely an extension of that effort.

Sour grape efforts to mend one’s reputation is what one would expect of conservatives these days.

Jerry R Gerovac

Jobs is head of the company, can do PR wise what he wants but i think ignoring American Jobs (no pun intended) is a mistake. We need to keep the world as clean as we can but we live here and Mother Earth will decide when we die and she cleans up.
I say, let’s keep the air, world clean as possible but also realize we didn’t cause global warming and we won’t fix it either.  Sorry to say to “Arrogant Mankind” but Global warming is bigger than you!

Living in huts, riding bicycles, eating sprouts, lowering our standard of living will make us seem like Left wing fools….the earth will enter another Ice Age at her will. Let’s live here cleanly but also have lives not dictated by Leftys…....

Bet this will tick a bunch of sprout eaters off.

Ref Librarian

I don’t eat sprouts and it ticked me off. I guess what bothers me the most is the lack of self-responsibility that I hear. We didn’t cause it, we are the do nothings. We can fix anything, we are the do nothings. We can’t give up our life style, we are the do nothings. The do nothings just leave their messes where they make them for other people to clean up, eh?

Ref Librarian

That would be “We can’t fix anything, we are the do nothings.” The Greatest Generation we sure aren’t.

Bryan Chaffin

but i think ignoring American Jobs (no pun intended) is a mistake.

I think this is one of the greatest misconceptions on this issue: I’ve heard some compelling evidence from the smarty-pants crowd that greening up our country is a jobs-creator, not a jobs-destoryer.

Everything from infrastructure creation, to being able to save money and invest it productivity-generating aspects of your business, to the economic benefit of being on the forefront (and therefore a global provider) of green-energy generation all present money making opportunities for businesses.

Terrin

I strongly agree with this sentiment. Innovative companies like Apple actually have the potential to create jobs. People want responsible products, and are willing to pay more for them. Many of the innovative ideas and hot products you see coming out are in response to the energy and green house gas problem. Hybrids are the best selling vehicles right now. There is one company talking about releasing a vehicle that runs on air. Shopping the other day for lights for my car, I found low energy using long lasting american made LED lights [as opposed to the China made Sylvania lights]. Cool stuff.

Companies that cling to the business as usual approach are suffering. Case in point: under the Clinton administration, the government pressured american car companies to explore hybrid technologies. GM and Chrysler abandoned such ideas when Bush took Office. Honda and Toyota, however, embraced these technologies and are reaping the benefits. Microsoft and Sony are companies that for a while there were slowly deteriorating for failure to take a chance and innovating. 

I will say though that creating jobs through being environmentally responsible is only part of the puzzle to getting America back on track. THe US should also work on job retention by only supporting foreign products that are produced in socially responsible countries. Free Trade is not free if american workers are being forced to compete with workers from Countries that do not value and/or have a voice in creating the same way of life as we cherish. In an apartment complex I lived in recently, a U-Haul truck pulled up in the middle of the night. About twenty Mexicans jumped out. They all were housed in a two bedroom apartment below me. They lived on the floor. They were used to put up siding on the complex buildings. They got up at the crack of dawn, and retired when the sun was going down. Americans can’t compete with that, and no human should be required to do so.

Apple has a great record on the environment, but riding the bandwagon and having it’s products produced in countries like China where it is not possible for Democratic Countries to compete with is wrong (although probably necessary from a strictly business standpoint in todays market). 

There is talk MacDonalds was experimenting with order takers being based in India. Manufacturing goes overseas, and labor here gets taken by illegal immigrants. Green jobs will eventually go overseas if Free Trade isn’t keep between countries that believe in Freedom.

Just my two cents.

I think this is one of the greatest misconceptions on this issue: I?ve heard some compelling evidence from the smarty-pants crowd that greening up our country is a jobs-creator, not a jobs-destoryer.

Everything from infrastructure creation, to being able to save money and invest it productivity-generating aspects of your business, to the economic benefit of being on the forefront (and therefore a global provider) of green-energy generation all present money making opportunities for businesses.

Tim H.

Moving smokestacks to the developing world, while putting them out of the sight of American greens, has been something less than a success. If the greening of planetary industry is attempted with the same disregard for workers that was shown with the free trade movement, there is great potential for human suffering. Might be time for the Steve to take a page from Henry Ford, and consider the market potential of workers who may aspire to buy what they’re building.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Bryan, Google Bastiat on broken windows, then get back to us on compelling evidence of this being good economic policy. I’ll give you the short version. Destroying wealth to “create jobs” makes us poorer.

Modena

The great thing about our country has been the innovation that we have used to increase our standard of living over the years while increasing our standards for health, clean air, clean water, and green technologies.

Corporate profits allows a company to invest in green technologies and environmentally friendly practices. You aren’t profitable because you’re green, you’re green because you’re profitable. That’s why third world countries have the worst record because they have no money to invest in costlier up-front green technology to leverage the long term benefits.

I read the US Chamber of Commerce report on their environmental priorities and I agree with them. The science on C02 being the cause of climate change is far from settled even though those making the most noise on the issue claim it to be so. C02 has always been a critical component of life here on planet earth so to regulate it as a pollutant along with carbon monoxide and nitrous oxides does not make any sense.

It’s popular to point to computer models and politicians to vilify C02 right now but the rising tide of actual data, both measured and historical is empowering scientists and climatologists to look at other causes that fit the data, not the models.

From that standpoint, it makes sense not to cap our weak economy at the knees but rather, increase corporate profitability so that it makes sense for businesses to invest in green technology and eco friendly practices.

geoduck

What’s come out in the last 24 hours has made me change my mind. I now believe Apple is right. The CoC is trying to play politics with a critical issue. If Apple had stayed in the CoC then they would be lending their reputation to something they could not support. I think it’s a honourable move.

As far as the issue of jobs is concerned. Get over it. The world is changing. There is going to be massive upheaval from the mess we’ve already caused. Job loss will be the least of it. The longer we wait the worse it’s going to be. Going slow on trying to fix this because you’re worried about costing jobs is akin to the captain of the Titanic refusing to slow down because it might hurt White Star’s reputation. It’s akin to holding off on Chemo because it would make the patient feel bad.

The longer we wait to make the HARD choices the worse it will be for all of us.

Do I expect the powers that be to step up in the end and do what’s right and needed? No, not a chance. Greed, self interest, and politics will IMO continue to rule and by the time I’m 100 I’m convinced the world will be several degrees warmer and, I truly believe, significantly less populated due to starvation and wars.

Have a Nice Day

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Do I expect the powers that be to step up in the end and do what?s right and needed? No, not a chance. Greed, self interest, and politics will IMO continue to rule and by the time I?m 100 I?m convinced the world will be several degrees warmer and, I truly believe, significantly less populated due to starvation and wars.

Channeling Paul Ehrlich, author of the population bomb, who like countless Malthusians before him, could not understand that the dynamism of human wants and needs actually tends to cause humans to employ their unique genius to satisfy each other rather than fight over spoils left to them. You may think I hate Mother Earth by not buying into global warming alarmism hook, line, and sinker. But I know from your statement that you hate people. And to paraphrase Barbara Streissand… People who hate people are the loneliest people.

And even more to the point, if global warming is going to kick things up 5?, I say we have a vote on who would like warmer winters. Being against that would be like wanting to end summer vacations for kids. You’d have to be a really principled loser.

geoduck

And even more to the point, if global warming is going to kick things up 5?, I say we have a vote on who would like warmer winters. Being against that would be like wanting to end summer vacations for kids. You?d have to be a really principled loser.

Warmer winters would have been great where we lived in Minnesota. But it’s not about the US only. It’s the failed monsoons in South Asia. The more severe storms in the Far East and Caribbean. It’s the Sahara closing in on the equator. Ask the people of Chad and Australia if the want warmer winters and summers. Europe is already facing a mass migration of North Africans who’s world has been destroyed by the growing desert. Fires and dust storms have choked the east coat of Australia over the last few years. Ask the people of Bangladesh or the inhabitants of Pacific and Indian Ocean islands if they want warmer winters and the consequent higher sea levels. There is only so much land and the best and most densely inhabited is within a couple of meters of Sea Level. These people will want to go somewhere when they’re homes are drowned.

Hate people? No, I’m just very disappointed. For a species called Homo Sapiens there are too many that act without thinking too many leaders that act out of self interest, and too many followers that follow blindly. We could do better. There are times when you put aside personal profit for the common good. It is always easier, cheaper, and less disruptive to prevent a problem then to clean up the mess afterwards.

Tiger

Maybe Mr. Donohue should take the signal by Apple for the criticism it really is: The Chamber of Commerce has become equal to the United Nations.

There ain’t no point in talking when there’s nobody listening.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

But it?s not about the US only. It?s the failed monsoons in South Asia. The more severe storms in the Far East and Caribbean. It?s the Sahara closing in on the equator. Ask the people of Chad and Australia if the want warmer winters and summers.

Blah blah blah. Google Copenhagen Consensus. Those thoughtful people concluded that even if the AGW story is Al Gore’s worst wet dream involving Elizabeth Edwards, we are better off growing economically and mitigating the effects with dollars. Or, you could just move Israel to Chad and create an African superpower out of sand and dust.

As to Bangladesh… Do you know of a region with a similar population density, rainfall, and elevation? Circa 1990, Fremont, CA was such a place (as documented by Rolling Stone writer PJ O’Rourke. In Bangladesh, you have a poverty problem, not a climate problem. Like most poverty problems in the world, they are fixed in relatively short order with political and economic freedom, not more command and control and top-down distribution of goods and ideas. Unfortunately, such solutions don’t make for good TV complete with flies buzzing around emaciated breast-feeding mothers.

geoduck

Like most poverty problems in the world, they are fixed in relatively short order with political and economic freedom

This is a problem that unfettered Capitalism has caused. I don’t see unfettered Capitalism fixing it without guidance. Capitalism like socialism is fine up to a point. The trouble is that Capitalism is short sighted. Capitalism does not think beyond the next quarter. Some companies plan three to five years out, but name me a company that plans 50 or 100 years away. This is an issue that requires governments to step up and say “This is the problem. These are the changes that we must make for the sake of our grandchildren. Within these rules you corporations are free to make money.” But with so many elected officials and leaders dependent on corporate donations for their campaigns I don’t see that happening. With so many citizens not taking the time to get educated on climate change issues they aren’t demanding the leadership that is needed.

Ricky Spero

Bryan, Google Bastiat on broken windows, then get back to us on compelling evidence of this being good economic policy. I?ll give you the short version. Destroying wealth to ?create jobs? makes us poorer.

Careful, Bosco—This is tricky. I’ll put my chips down with Bryan on this: sustainability ultimately makes its practitioners wealthier. Here’s how I read Bastiat into the debate on green jobs:

Part 1 of sustainability is conservation, or reducing waste and inefficiency, which isn’t destroying wealth. Quite to the contrary, conservation—higher efficiency engines, better insulation, passive solar building design—is about preventing wealth from being needlessly bled away in the first place.

Part 2 of sustainability is renewables, which include hydro power, wind, and solar. Look closely, and you’ll see that renewables also prevent the destruction of wealth. The coal, gas, and petroleum underground represent a limited resource. They *are* valuable. But as we use them, we destroy that wealth. Renewables avoid this problem.

All of this is to say nothing of the wealth we destroy indirectly with fossil fuels, from the political and military conflicts it causes to the health problems caused by leveling West Virginia and combustion fumes at power plants.

—Ricky
TMO

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Ricky, if you replace coal with pick your favorite non-nuclear so-called clean electricity source for consumers in the mid-west and northeast, you will necessarily raise their electric bills. You might as well go break their windows to stimulate the economic activity to replace them.

Resources in the ground communicate their perceived scarcity through the price system. The reason that we continue to literally move mountains to extract coal is because doing so is the least expensive, most reliable way of producing electricity for these regions. To claim otherwise is a fusion of ignorance and dishonesty. This includes nuclear, which has astronomically high costs due to the politics of nuclear energy, i.e. you cannot reasonably expect to get a permit for new plant today at any cost.

Montresor

There is so much hand-waving and bs around this issue. Let’s bottom-line this so we can see where we’re at:

1) The US does not sit on enough oil reserves to sustain our current lifestyle for any reasonable amount of time (less than a decade I believe). This makes us wholly dependent on the goodwill of other countries - many of whom are not particularly enamored of us - for our current way of life. Advocating that we continue our ridiculous overuse of oil is advocating that your children be forced to kowtow to foreign nationals, simply so you can enjoy the convenience of living in a suburban McMansion, buy at Walmart and drive a disgustingly large car.

2) We do not have capitalism in this country. We have a loose oligarchy, and have had one since our founding. For about the last 100+ years, this oligarchy has increasingly become a corporate one. At this point, our government is far more concerned with the wellbeing of our corporate citizens than our corporeal citizens. Unfortunately, corporatism is not capitalism - far from it. Capitalism depends on efficiency and churn. Corporatism depends on defending the status quo. This is what is behind the platitudes about “American Jobs” spouted by the same frigtards who 5 years ago were offshoring every single job they realistically could. Fortunately for them, the American public has the memory of a gnat, and a collective intelligence to match.

You may not like the way I described our situation, but I don’t think a reasonable person can call it wrong. I think the above explains both why Apple (probably the most successful american manufacturer) bailed on the dinosaurs at the US Chamber of Commerce, and why they in turn have their undies in a bunch. Remember - these are the guys who wanted to hold a Scopes Monkey Trial on Global Warming.

As previous commenters have described, sustainability represents more efficient energy use, and as such is the natural evolution for a capitalist society, much as electricity replaced steam for motive power in manufacturing. Will the transition cause pain for established interests? Yes. Should we care? Absolutely not - efficiency in commerce is what will keep us globally competitive and relevant, not how many vacation homes our CEOs have.

geoduck

sustainability represents more efficient energy use, and as such is the natural evolution for a capitalist society, much as electricity replaced steam for motive power in manufacturing. Will the transition cause pain for established interests? Yes. Should we care? Absolutely not - efficiency in commerce is what will keep us globally competitive and relevant, not how many vacation homes our CEOs have.

Superbly put.

Ricky Spero

The reason that we continue to literally move mountains to extract coal is because doing so is the least expensive, most reliable way of producing electricity for these regions

Bosco—

Well, I have to bite back on this one. grin Fossil fuels are the least expensive energy source because they are heavily subsidized, albeit indirectly. Coal mining companies don’t have to pay for the health, tourism, and real estate costs of dumping mountain tops into rivers. Power plant operators don’t need to pay to put the carbon they emit back into the ground, or for the health problems they cause for people living near the power plants. Oil companies don’t have to pay for the U.S. fighter jets that escort their tankers out of the gulf.

Will renewables be more expensive than coal is now? Sure. But the problem, as a wise friend once said to me, is not that solar and wind are too expensive. It’s that coal and oil are artificially cheap.

Cheers,
—Ricky
TMO

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Ricky, How do you generate electricity with wind when it isn’t windy? Or with solar when it isn’t sunny, or at night? Do demand patterns match the winds and the intensity of the sun? One possible solution is batteries, which have always been extremely environmentally friendly. Just kidding, they are anything but. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear will necessarily be the backbone of electricity production, regardless of cap and trade. We’ll just pay more and be poorer for it.

Geopolitics and oil are complicated. But don’t forget that the top direct foreign oil suppliers to the United States are Canada and Mexico. And to “Peak Oil Guy” above, do you know about oil shale and the economics of it? We have huge shale reserves in the Rocky Mountains. But it is expensive to extract. To justify the investment, many oil economists would say you need a prolonged price floor in the range of $100-$120 barrel. And that’s the start of oil econ 101 for all of you. We will not “run out” of oil, and anyone who suggests that we will is just plain uninformed. As current easily accessible reserves generate less oil, we have to move to less accessible (more costly) reserves, and the price goes up. As the price goes up high enough, substitution makes sense and ordinary people will understand that at high gas prices, electric, natural gas, and other non-oil fuels make sense, and they will buy them! The biggest sign that we’re not there and not anywhere near there is that the government has to explicitly subsidize alternatives or attempt to tax the conventional fuels. Or exaggerate externalities.

In short, if it weren’t so potentially harmful, it would be funny watching cap and trade proponents and alternative energy fanatics try to claim that their position is good economics. It’s delusional. If you said that the goal was to raise the price of fossil fuels so that so-called renewable energy would be more viable, then fine. At least we know you want to make us poorer in the pursuit of some clear aesthetic goal. Or if you wanted more nuclear, hey, that actually makes tremendous economic sense. Remove the costly barriers and see how long oil competes.

Ricky Spero

How do you generate electricity with wind when it isn?t windy? Or with solar when it isn?t sunny, or at night? Do demand patterns match the winds and the intensity of the sun? One possible solution is batteries, which have always been extremely environmentally friendly. Just kidding, they are anything but. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear will necessarily be the backbone of electricity production, regardless of cap and trade.

Bosco—On this point, you’re absolutely right. Grid stability and energy storage are two of the big (but not the only!) unsolved issues with renewable power. Unless and until adequate solutions are developed (and in my work I see many such promising technologies), fossil fuels, as you say, will remain a key part of our energy portfolio.

But let’s not confuse “need to” with “want to.” Relying on fossil fuels to address shortcomings in renewables is rational and responsible. Blindly incentivizing dirty power is neither.

There is one more issue to clarify. You say putting a cost on carbon will make us poorer. It is more precise to say that it makes dirty power more expensive, which I’d say is a sensible path, given the indirect subsidies that fossil fuels currently enjoy. Also keep in mind that the proceeds from that tax wouldn’t disappear. They would go into the federal budget, where (under Obama’s plan), it finances the tax cuts passed in the Stimulus Package earlier this year.

Remember, Bastiat’s theory of glaziers requires that something of value actually be destroyed! Taxing doesn’t break anything, it just moves money around. Not always efficient, but occasionally useful and effective.
—Ricky
TMO

BurmaYank

“Staying in the game and making positive contributions has to be weighed against appearing to be complicit in something undesirable.”

That seams reasonable enough, and perhaps so does…

“How to chose? Long after the temporary fanfare for bowing out is forgotten, people will one day wonder why you?re not in the game, working for change.”

But John Martellaro is quite mistaken when he claims that the statement Apple makes by quitting is that Apple doesn’t “want to assume a leadership role.” 

Apple is clearly demonstrating the same strong leadership role I think Gandhi, Thich Naht Hanh’s self-immolating peers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King II surely would have done had they faced this dilemma; choosing self-sacrificial boycott as an invitation/inspiration to others of similar conscience to join in a campaign to not contribute to a wrong-headed social enterprise (such as the US Chamber of Commerce’s agenda on climate change).  I consider that to be one of the most powerful and responsible forms of leadership possible. 

It will be interesting to see how many other corporations will join this campaign against fossil-fuel’s strangle-hold on and exploitation of the US Chamber of Commerce.

Quitting is a statement that seems strong for awhile. But what it really says in the long run is that you don?t Refusing to play if you can?t win right away is a Western idea, not the Eastern, patient approach.

 

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Ricky, The Bastiat reference refers to the idea that if you basically destroy perfectly good coal-fired electric plants with problematic and more expensive alternative (non-nuclear, coincidentally) electric plants by taxing the carbon fuels, you will “create green jobs”. Bastiat talked about breaking windows in order to “create jobs”. In both cases, we are poorer. We will spend more money on electricity, leaving less of our income to be taxed away for Bush’s wars or Obama’s giveaways, and leaving even less to buy cool energy sucking flat screen TVs, of which I am a big fan.

I can see why you don’t want to be honest about the economics of cap and trade. Ordinary people will see it as a costly turd with unclear benefits. At a corporate level, which is what this article was about, it’s free revenue to energy companies which aren’t using coal from companies that have no viable alternative. Paid for by all consumers as electricity prices go through the roof.

ctopher

I am very much enjoying this debate and I am comforted that this forum has been about substance and not (much) name calling.

I’m not well read on the subject of energy policy but from my way of thinking it has to be a net positive to conserve more and pollute less. Also, I see a value in doing so, therefore I don’t mind paying more. (Or becoming poorer if you prefer.)

zewazir

There are actually two separate issues at work with regards to the energy issue. Both are related to the reliance on petroleum.

First, there is the ever popular global warming (now conveniently renamed “climate change”. People say they are forming their opinion on this issue from the science, but I must ask the question are your opinions based on the science, or are they based on what the popular media reports of the science?  The real facts are: (if one actually studies the science as opposed to what our media reports) 1 - there has been a measurable increase in mean global temperature.  2 - Certain climates are undergoing a flux.

What the media does NOT report is that tying human activities to the warming trend is tenuous at best, especially when it comes to so-called greenhouse gasses. And a second fact the media has not reported is that science strongly indicates the rise in mean temperatures are only partly responsible for the climactic shifts being observed.

To understand how the popular media (this includes most of the more popular science magazines) has distorted the issue, a close look at the actual science is needed.  The entire premise of human activity contributing to the increase in mean global temperature is based on two unsupported assumptions.

First is the assumption that a correlation between global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 indicates that increasing CO2 will result in increased temperatures. Te correlation is derived from a study of polar ice core samples, from which estimates have been derived of both atmospheric content, and mean global temperatures. The result is a very strong correlation (R2 > .784) between temperature and CO2 concentrations. However, there is no scientific data that supports the conclusion that this correlation indicates a cause-effect relationship. All studies to date indicate that temperatures rise first, THEN CO2 levels go up.  IF CO2 were the cause (as opposed to a result) of temperature increases, the data would show CO2 rising first.

Second, planetary modeling also indicates that any forcing from CO2 takes place at concentrations much lower than are being currently blamed.  CO2 forcing is evident when concentrations are raised from zero to about 180 ppmv, then the effect rapidly levels out between 180-200 ppmv, after which there is no measurable increase in CO2 forcing. This means that increasing atmospheric CO2 from 315 ppmv to 385 ppmv (as related by the Keeling Curve, a huge part of AGW warming theory) in reality has NO demonstrable effect on mean global temperatures.

But how does the media portray the data? If one were to rely solely on their reports, it has been proven that more CO2 in the atmosphere causes the mean global temperature to go up.

Going back to those ice core studies, a comparison has been made to previous CO2 levels during periods of interglaciation and current levels. However, this direct comparison makes the assumption that the methods used result in an accurate estimate of real atmospheric CO2 concentrations. When comparing ice core sample to ice core sample, the basis for comparison is apples-to-apples.  Certainly the establishment of specific protocols in analyzing the cores has resulted in CONSISTENT results, but are they an accurate estimate of ATMOSPHERIC CO2 levels of the time?  With only one method, how do we know for certain?  The answer is, we do not. To date, only one other method for estimating paleo- atmospheric CO2 has been studied, and it disagrees with the levels derived from ice cores. The study was done by some paleobotanists using analysis of fossilized plants.  According to their study, the estimates of CO2 concentrations from ice core data are too low. If the paleobotanists are correct, then the comparison of paleo CO2 concentrations to modern CO2 concentrations becomes moot.  Modern concentrations fall well within the estimates derived via plant analysis, meaning there is no “excess” CO2 to be accounted for.

(to be continued)

zewazir

(continued)

Thus we have two methods, each comprised of more than one study, which analyze the same phenomenon. Both methods observed the same thing over long periods of time: a cyclical variation of higher and lower mean global temperatures, and a corresponding rise and fall of CO2 concentrations.  So the cycle of warming and cooling is verified by the existence of two independent methods arriving at the same (type of) data set. However, and this is significant, the two methods arrive at significantly (15%+ variance) different values for their estimate of atmospheric CO2 concentrations.  Remember: neither method can actually measure the concentration of CO2 from a few hundred thousand years ago. The plant method uses data from fossil plant structures, while the ice core method measures CO2 in trapped air bubbles.  Both methods use established theory to ESTIMATE the corresponding atmospheric CO2 concentration.  But the two methods disagree with that value for a specific time period.  They agree whether the cycle was in a warm phase or cool phase, and whether it was rising or falling. But not the actual value for CO2.  So which one is right? Which is wrong? Or (going by the typical history of scientific investigation) are both wrong, but for different reasons?

No matter what the truth may end up being, the data brought about by paleobotanical studies shows that any direct comparison of estimated paleo-era CO2 concentrations and directly measured CO2 concentrations from modern atmospherical studies is invalid, as are any and all conclusions made from such direct comparisons.  We have no way of knowing if current CO2 levels are outside the Earth’s normal range or not.

Between the lack of supportive data linking CO2 as a driving force in rising temperatures, and the fact that estimates of CO2 concentrations derived by ice core studies may be lower than actual values, there is nothing left to claim that human sources of CO2 in any way contribute to the warming trend being observed.  As such, any moves to curb our carbon emissions - especially moves that would unnecessarily increase prices of energy - which in turn will increase the price of everything else, hitting the poor the hardest - is little more than spitting into a high wind at this point.

zewazir

That brings us to the second issue of energy: dependence on fossil fuels, and, more specifically, petroleum. The bottom line is we need to get off the oil dependency. Most importantly, we need to get off the foreign oil dependency - and we need to do so using any and every possible method available to us.  If that means using liquifaction of coal to reduce need for foreign sources of diesel fuel, then that is what we need to do. The whole carbon thing has been shown to be a “cry wolf” issue if you actually study the science of it.  So forget saving CO2 emissions and concentrate on reducing the vast economic deficits our dependency on foreign oil is causing.

Transportation - specifically trucking - is one of the largest uses of petroleum in our economy.  And it is a use which can NOT be curbed, or taxed, or capped and traded. Diminish our transport industry and EVERYTHING will go up in price far and above any benefit (if it were real) of such measures as are typically proposed. We need to keep our trucks rolling without a significant increase in cost. We fail to do that, and the economic fallout could well be unrecoverable.

Research into biofuels has come a long way, and there is one overriding detail that prevents its wide useage in the transportation of goods. Biofuels do not provide enough power per unit to drive a truck across the country pulling a 15 ton load. Te energy release, even in ideal laboratory conditions simply cannot match the energy output of petroleum diesel.

Coal liquifaction into clean diesel fuel is a proven process, and when done in large enough quantity, can be very comparable in price to petroleum diesel. It has the same energy output, but fewer pollutants - most of those are extracted and trapped in the liquifaction process.  The US has enormous reserves of coal. (And yes, coal producers DO spend a lot of money reclaiming mined lands, for whomever claims they are “indirectly subsidized” by not doing so.)

But what about coal fired electrical plants if we are turning our cloal into fuel to drive our delivery trucks? THAT is where we can turn to alternative fuels without the need for long periods of research, development, etc. All an electrical plant needs is a power source to turn the electrical generators.  Coal and oil fired electrical plants, even nuclear plants, use steam turbines to provide this power. The thing is, practically anything can be used to turn water into steam.  The state of Washington has electrical generating plants which burn waste wood from their lumber and paper industries.  We can do more. How about using all the waste paper we generate daily to fire a few electrical plants?

But of the ideas for alternate fuels for generating electricity, I like ethanol the best.  There are numerous potential sources for ethanol that do not threaten our supply of corn flakes.  Switch grass can be grown practically anywhere in the continental US, and is hearty enough to grow on lands currently nonviable for agriculture. Then there is the idea of growing algae as a biosource for ethanol. Early studies indicate a medium size algae growing station (200-400 acres of algae ponds) could provide enough ethanol from their biomass to equal or exceed the total output last year from corn.

But, whether we use waste wood, waste paper, ethanol, or buffalo chips, the bottom line is we can fire our electrical generating plants with little additional research, and with very few modifications in our infrastructure, thus saving TONS of money over those proposals that require large changes in infrastructure. From the boilers to the turbines to the generators to the substations and out, none of that would need to be changes.  All that is needed is for the burners of each plant to be modified to burn a different fuel, and possibly the fuel storage and transport within each facility.  That is a load better than trying to build completely new (inefficient and undependable) infrastructure based on wind and/or solar production.

We could change every single coal generator (and especially the few oil fired ones!) to an alternative fuel with minimum fuss, minimum expense, and minimum time.  Then we turn all that unused coal into diesel fuel, COMBINE it with biofuel technology, switch our cars and others to alternate (or petroleum combined) fuels, thus diminishing our need for oil low enough the tell our foreign suppliers to go peddle their wares elsewhere.

jim

The contradiction is that pollution and productivity create ever more useless gadgets for people to fetish. My ipod is awesome-like a mini tablet- so cool i can’t believe how much I use it How do they cram all that brilliance into such a small space? On my bicycle it works great. Technology creates pollution Cars are smog pumps. Business seeks profit. Profit is variable. The Chamber wants as much profit as it can get and doesnt care about the consequences (pollution worker rights-off shore slave labor etc). Astroturfing energy companies don’t fool us. we want to breathe but we realise that we have to destroy the polluters before they destroy the earth

zewazir

Try to remember that the same system and productivity creating “ever more useless gadgets” is also giving us things like the internet (and all associated hardware, both essential and “useless”, MRI’s, increased vastly the capabilities of CAT scanners, and even emission controls on automobiles and factories. Can you imagine LA with current automobile usage and 1960’s engine efficiency and emissions?

The “profit without regard to consequences” whine gets tiresome after a while.  Profits are what allow a company to hire more people to develop more and better products. The people guiding these companies are not ignorant of the situation, nor are they mindlessly evil drogues. If a better way is available, they’ll use it. After all, they live there too, breathing the same air. Yes, they do look at the bottom line when determining the cost of an alternative.  If the cost is, in their opinion, more than the benefit gained, they won’t go there. They are, after all, responsible to not only the share holders, but also the people who make their living off those evil profits being denigrated so easily. Make a product too expensive and fewer will sell, which means fewer employees are needed to assemble, market, package, transport, and sell said products.  How many jobs are worth a .01% decrease in CO2 emissions - when we still don’t know for certain is human CO2 sources make any difference anyway?

If we want to solve the problems before us, we need to start taking some realistic views of the total picture and stop paying so much attention to the politically driven sound bites coming from either side. We can NOT afford to completely replace our power infrastructure with new, politically popular energy sources. Certainly wind and solar can help offset our ever increasing demand for consumable energy.  But to even dream that we can replace our “dirty” sources is living in a drug induced dreamland.  To think we can force their replacement by artificially making “dirty” sources too expensive is begging to create a new economic crisis at a time that we haven’t recovered from the last one.

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