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Comments for A Musing Environment

A Friend looks at (mostly) the environment: "Let all nations hear the sound by word or writing. Spare not place, spare not tongue, nor pen...This is the word of the Lord God to you all, a charge to you all in the presence of the living God; be patterns, b

Last Build Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2015 22:47:05 +0000


Comment on My debate on global warming by Shelley T

Fri, 20 Mar 2015 22:47:05 +0000

I greatly appreciate that you were willing and able to do this. It is always hard to know what impact you have as a result of a presentation. Not many people are going to change their minds in that moment, but hopefully, they will think about what you said and become more open to change as a result. Thank you for participating in the debate!

Comment on My debate on global warming by Tom Yamaguchi

Fri, 20 Mar 2015 18:30:32 +0000

For me, the biggest problem with the debate was the wording of the agreed upon question: This House supports that observed global warming has not been proved mainly anthropogenic. You probably would have gotten more agreement if people were not hung up on what constitutes proof. Few people understood the difference between a scientific debate and a political or courtroom debate. You expressed frustration when people say, "We need more testing. We need more evidence." We had a good laugh when you responded, "Yeah, and OJ Simpson is still looking for the owner of that glove!" In a political or courtroom debate, you attack the credibility of the witness if you can't attack the credibility of the evidence. Therefore, scientists in universities are suspect because they take money from government agencies that would gain from findings that support more government regulations. As someone at the debate pointed out, scientists are motivated to disrupt the established order. They actually help their careers by proving long held beliefs to be wrong. You can also bring sympathy to your side if you claim to be the victim; there is a conspiracy to silence scientists who doubt humans are causing climate change, and the media is a part of this conspiracy to keep the public ignorant. A peer reviewed scientific journal is different from the op ed page of a daily newspaper. To get published in a scientific journal, the paper has to go through that peer review process. You can't say, "Hey, publish me because I have a different opinion!" I did have a fun time at the debate, and I can understand why you felt you had wasted your time. As expected, very few opinions changed that night, including mine. You did a good job, and I am sure the exercise helped you improve your message that may sway more people who are on the fence. By accepting the offer to debate, you showed that you are confident in your own research and can respond to any talking point the doubters throw at you.

Comment on Fossil fuel subsidies by Karen Street

Mon, 02 Feb 2015 22:19:50 +0000

Ah, no wonder I didn't understand, you use non-traditional terminology. I suppose that if a country opts for nuclear over coal for absolutely no reason, then coal loses out. But coal is not subsidizing the government. Also, both Japanese industry and the government are invested in restarting nuclear power plants, which reduces both the direct taxes paid by fossil fuels to the government, and the enormous financial costs fossil fuels exact which are currently paid by the government and private individuals both. I haven't checked the Japanese tax carefully, but as I recall, the tax on fossil fuels is less or far less than the actual costs to society, which means that coal continues to be subsidized. You can check for me—if the tax on coal is more or considerably more than $100/ton CO2, then it is possibly a negative subsidy. That is using the $40/ton CO2 figure for greenhouse gas emissions, and the $60/ton CO2 figure for air pollution. As mentioned, a number of economists believe that the $40 estimate is way too low, and so any tax below $200 - $250/ton might be too low.

Comment on Fossil fuel subsidies by G.R.L. Cowan

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 12:35:01 +0000

I don’t really understand your point on a negative subsidy of fossil fuels.
If allowing the replacement of fossil fuels with other, non-carbon-emitting ways of getting the same benefits reduces a government's income, that government is subsidized by the fossil fuel sector.

Comment on Fossil fuel subsidies by Karen Street

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 03:03:21 +0000

Yes, in parts of Europe, the tax on gasoline may be higher than the cost of road repair, air pollution, greenhouse gas pollution, and so on. Then the tax is high enough to be considered a market distortion. The spending of huge amounts of money to import fossil fuels affects other parts of the economies of countries involved, but I don't understand the issue well enough to know how that should be costed. I believe that it is part of what Japan considers. I don't really understand your point on a negative subsidy of fossil fuels.

Comment on Fossil fuel subsidies by G.R.L. Cowan

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 02:34:25 +0000

Somehow that comment got submitted in midstream. I meant it to close this way: You have to look at the taxes that are special to fossil fuels, or especially high for them, along with the subsidies.

Comment on Fossil fuel subsidies by G.R.L. Cowan

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 02:30:36 +0000

It is conceivable for fossil fuels not to be highly subsidized and the market still be distorted. Conceivable, and in my opinion actual. Look at the extreme slowness with which the government of Japan is allowing the country's electricity providers to restart their nuclear power plants. It turns out that since a few years ago they have had a special tax measure "aimed at stemming global warming". There is a schedule for this carbon tax occasionally to be raised, but even as it was when it began, it was giving the central government $140 million a month. Letting the plants restart means giving up that revenue. It also means alleviating the country's enormous trade deficit. But does a trade deficit threaten any civil service paycheque? Isn't it obvious that the tax measures that stem global warming are those that make it less profitable for government, not more so? The market distortion I see is that the net subsidy from government to fossil fuel consumers and producers is large -- and negative. So it does everything it deniably can to impede fossil fuel conservation and substitution. You have to look at the taxes especially high for fossil fuels or

Comment on Fossil fuel subsidies by Marshall Massey

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:15:26 +0000

Good work, Karen! I’m going to share this one with others.

Comment on IPCC on Mitigation: Which technologies help reduce GHG emissions the most? by Karen Street

Sun, 20 Apr 2014 17:33:43 +0000

Bonnie, short answer: your statement is OK: those who know the most about nuclear power are the least frightened. (The opposite appears to be true re climate change.) More details— The difference between a risk and a barrier in this context is that a risk is based on uncertain information: barriers exist despite the information. There is deep public opposition to adding a cost to GHG; this is a barrier rather than a risk. Some in the public find any nuclear power plant accident unacceptable, while accepting enormous harm from the use of fossil fuels; this is a barrier. Unresolved waste management issues are a barrier, an obstacle to the expansion of nuclear power because some governments, such as in California, forbid new nuclear reactors until a permanent repository is established, but there is little uncertainty about whether any will open (yes, they will) and whether they will operate safely (yes). Nations which reprocess have all delayed site selection. Nations which don’t reprocess are in various stages; Sweden is furthest along in the process; full construction begins at a site near Forsmark in 2015 and the repository is expected to open in 2020. Deep geological disposal, a la the Swedish plan and Yucca Mountain, is considered a safe and effective means of isolating nuclear waste long-term; scientific and technological consensus on this is as strong as the consensus on climate change, on the dangers of using the atmosphere as a sewer for fossil fuel waste. Political obstacles to nuclear waste storage presumably will be easier to reverse, as politicians become more concerned about climate change, so it is reasonable to presume that this is a temporary barrier. • Operational risks include accidents such as in Fukushima. It is reasonable to compare the environmental and health effects of the oldest Generation II designs with coal plants from the same era. Germany, in closing down older nuclear power plants, did not consider opportunity costs, the relative benefits of closing older coal plants first. In the US, coal plants kill more than 10,000 Americans yearly, and almost 1,000 coal miners; impacts on the environment and agriculture are also severe. Accidents will happen, but we don’t know how often, or how serious they will be (although seriousness in terms of both danger to the public and cost appear much, much less with the current Gen III+ plants being built). Fukushima is expected to eventually kill one worker from excess radioactivity (of the hundreds with excess exposure, we would expect one to die) and no members of the public. It was and is scary, exceedingly expensive, and there will be excess deaths as people live in anxiety and delay a return to normal lives (and from increased reliance on fossil fuels). • Financial risks exist because nuclear power does not have a clear track record of producing generation III+ plants, such as are being built by Westinghouse in China, and at Vogtle and Summer in the U.S., and by Areva at Olkiluoto, in Finland. The Finnish reactor is behind schedule and over budget. The Vogtle construction is being watched closely in California and elsewhere to see whether it follows the same path or comes in more or less on time and within budget (it is a first build and it might be a tad bit to ask that there be no problems); the two new Vogtle reactors are expected to come online in 2016 and 2017. Also included in this category is uncertainty about the price of natural gas in the US; current low prices has led to the delay of nuclear construction in some areas of the US and the closing of small plants. From my reading, economists seem more unsure of the Westinghouse AP1000 cost and schedule than those in industry, even those who tend to caution. This is because much more of the AP1000 is built in-factory, compared to the current Gen II, and because one[...]

Comment on IPCC on Mitigation: Which technologies help reduce GHG emissions the most? by bonnie fraser

Sun, 20 Apr 2014 04:18:04 +0000

So, Karen, I thought that those who knew the most about nuclear power feared it the least and that it has been strongly advocated by IPCC. Now I read in your summary that You say that nuclear power has risks and barriers, with robust evidence and high agreement. But I do not know which of the potential problems is a risk and which a barrier. I understand that there is significant public opposition. Is that the major barrier? Are disposal of wastes, operational risks, potential for nuclear weapons also a barrier in the mind of IPCC scientists? If so, I need to stop saying those who know the most are the least frightened.