October 04, 2005
Carbon Dioxide Emissions Continue Rapid Increase

A rapid rise in fossil fuels burning is causing a rapid rise in carbon dioxide emissions.

World energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose by 4.5% last year, their fastest rate since 2000, according to first estimates by German economics institute DIW. The figures show that EU-15 emissions climbed only marginally in 2004 after increasing significantly in 2003 released.

Nearly half of carbon dioxide emissions growth in 2004 came from China. Continued economic growth in China and elsewhere in Asia means even more growth in CO2 emissions.

DIW's early review of 2004 data confirms China as currently the major driver of global emissions growth. It released an extra 579m tonnes of CO2 in 2004, a year-on-year increase of 15%. In comparison, world emissions increased by 1.2bn tonnes to stand at 27.5bn tonnes, or 26% above their 1990 level.

The folks who fear global warming are going to find themselves talking to a wall (a "Great Wall") if they try to convince the Chinese to stop their increase in fossil fuels consumption.

Emissions growth in industrialised countries in 2004 was far less rampant. Energy-related CO2 rose by 1.3% across the OECD area, DIW reported. In the USA it increased by 1.4%. In the old EU-15 countries it rose by 0.7%, less than half the rate of increase in 2003, according to official EU figures (ED 21/06/05).

Meanwhile, DIW estimates that EU-15 emissions of all six Kyoto greenhouse gases rose by just 0.3% in 2004, again well down on their 1.3% increase in 2003 according to official EU figures. According to the German institute, EU-15 emissions are now 1.4% below their 1990 level compared with a commitment to minus 8% by 2010.

The "EU-15" refer to the core and more industrialized western European Union countries. Note the 0.7% rise in CO2 emissions in the EU-15 versus 1.4% in the US and 1.3% in the whole set of OECD countries. The EU-15 aren't managing to stop, let alone reverse, CO2 emissions growth. The EU is growing more slowly in population and in total economic output than the United States. So a substantial portion of the EU-15 's slower growth in CO2 is a consequence of slower economic growth rather than success of government policies aimed at reducing emissions.

To make their Kyoto Accord goals by 2010 the EU-15 will have to reverse emissions growth very soon and achieve substantial reductions every year. I do not see them accomplishing this goal. They'd have to slow their economies even more. That's politically unpalatable. The EU is getting a lot of help from high oil and natural gas prices. But unless oil prices go higher still I'm skeptical that the EU countries will honor their Kyoto commitments.

If the countries with the strongest dedication to CO2 emissions reduction can not manage any better than they've achieved so far what chances are there for the rest of the world to stop CO2 emissions growth? Not gonna happen folks.

The best hope the CO2 emissions reduction advocates have is if Matthew Simmons and the other "Peak Oil" advocates are right and the peak of oil production is on the near horizon of the next 5 to 10 years. That'd put a huge brake on CO2 emissions growth. However, even if conventional oil production peaks my bet is that massive investments will bring on big production increases from oil shale in Wyoming and Colorado, oil tar sands in Alberta Canada, and coal in several countries.

CO2 emissions will eventually reduce substantially when solar, wind, and nuclear energy become cheap enough to substitute for fossil fuels. Also, advances in battery technology would enable the use of solar, wind, and nuclear energy for transportation and that would shift a lot of demand away from fossil fuels. People who fear global warming (and I'm not yet convinced it will be severe or a net harm) should join those who think technological advances are the way to bring the fossil fuel age to an end. I want to obsolesce fossil fuels for other reasons including the desire for cleaner air, less flow of money to Islamic theocracies, elimination of a big import expense, and greater economic efficiency and economic growth from the development of better energy technologies. Those seem compelling enough reasons regardless of climate effects.

Update: An EU press release from 2004 shows that the EU core states have experienced green house gas emissions increases in 2 out of 3 years in the 2000-2002 period.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU's 15 pre-2004 member states dropped by 0.5% between 2001 and 2002, latest estimates compiled by the European Environment Agency show.

The reasons for the decrease include warmer weather in most EU countries which reduced the use of carbon dioxide-producing fossil fuels to heat homes and offices. Slower economic growth in manufacturing industries, which also lowered fossil fuel use, a continuing shift from coal to gas and specific measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were the other main reasons.

Emissions of the six greenhouse gases had risen by 0.2% and 1.3% a year in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

The fall in 2002 took total EU15 emissions to 2.9% below their level in the base year used for calculations - 1990 in most cases.

A mild winter and slow economic growth in one year allowed EU-15 emissions to decline. Hardly a sign they are on track to make their goals.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2005 October 04 04:45 PM  Energy Policy

Thrasymachus said at October 4, 2005 6:22 PM:

Technological advances would be great. But "solar paint" and fusion are not going to come just because we declare a new Manhattan project to do it. Our realistic alternatives to massive fossil fuel use are: 1) incredible numbers of breeder reactors, or 2) global population reduction.

Marvin said at October 4, 2005 7:13 PM:

"Global population reduction?" Now that is a practical suggestion. Where are all the "primitivism" and "die-off.org" folks when you need them? Die off indeed. Starting with yourselves, preferably.

Thrasymachus said at October 4, 2005 7:16 PM:

I didn't mean that we'd choose to do it. But there are always accidents and wars.

Kurt said at October 4, 2005 7:34 PM:

Would not the most likely cause of "global population reduction" be some kind of infectious agent, either natural or artificial?

Engineer-Poet said at October 4, 2005 9:07 PM:

Maybe the EU countries can call for restrictions on Chinese imports because of China's high CO2 emissions per unit of output.  China would yell, but what could they do?

Thrasymachus said at October 4, 2005 9:35 PM:

I think that nukes are still the most likely agents of worldwide population-control out there. But an artificial biological agent is well within the realm of possibility. A natural epidemic causing a mass die-off is far less likely than a man-made one, but certainly still possible.

Engineer-Poet said at October 4, 2005 9:46 PM:

(I hate it when the reload lies about whether a comment has actually posted.)

Tdean said at October 4, 2005 10:05 PM:


It should be clear that a planned economy like China's is actually more foreward looking than our own. Even though it was not bound by Kyoto restrictions, in the late '90s, China shut down so many inefficient coal fired plants that its carbon emissions actually dropped. Unfortunately, the government went a bit too far in that new plants didn't come on line fast enough to meet demand, so they ended up with a significant power shortage. One reason that carbon emissions are increasing so quickly now is that they are playing catch up with supply and demand. This is a pretty good example of the Chinese government not doing a good job of managing infrastructure.

China is very much interested in increasing energy efficiency. You might suggest that the EU should also restrict US imports because our transportation energy efficiency has actually dropped in recent years because of government kowtowing to auto industry interests in selling SUVs. China is working enthusiastically with the UN and NGOs including the US environmental group NRDC to improve energy efficiency in order to reduce energy imports. I would suggest that the best thing that we can do to reduce the environmental footprint of a rapidly growing China is to support cooperation and technology transfer to improve efficiency and more rapidly advance renewable energy resources. The last thing we need is economic belligerance that will lead to increased tensions and suspicion. We are having enough trouble with Iraq at the present time.

I have to ask why it is that Randall's reactionary site disallows internet references to Environmental Entrepreneurs' website, but finds right wing sites and nuclear energy mouthpiece sites acceptable. I don't expect a rational answer.

Randall Parker said at October 4, 2005 10:47 PM:

TC Dean obnoxious jerk:

Send me a URL that can't get posted here in a link and I'll check it against 3500 or so anti-spam patterns I have to see if it accidentally matches one. That happens sometimes. I've had it happen to me. I can usually fix the anti-spam regular expressions to let the URL pass. This has become an even bigger problem lately because some spammers are mixing a single spam URL into posts that have a bunch of blog and other legitimate URLs. It is hard to tell which are which.

I realize your obnoxious eminence does not give a damn.

Mind you, I offer you this because I'd hate to see someone else get tripped up by the same regular expression pattern. As for you, if you didn't show up here again I would not miss your obnoxious persona in the least.

Tdean said at October 4, 2005 11:43 PM:

Well, Randall, you don't disappoint. You must have gotten your "enemies list" from your NEI buddies. As far as I can tell "E2.org" uniquely refers to Environmental Entrepreneurs which is a partner of NRDC and wholely legitimate.

Peace and love,


Randall Parker said at October 4, 2005 11:51 PM:

No asshole, the regular expression pattern that tripped up the URL didn't mention e2.org. It was looking for a lot of other single letter and single number URL sites that are spammer sites.

But you do not disappoint. Casting unfounded aspersions on motives is what I've come to exspect from you.

Tdean said at October 5, 2005 12:40 AM:


I guess it's just a matter of competence then. If your spamkiller is so indiscriminate, you might consider a disclaimer stating the problem and suggesting "... If you believe that your URL was improperly blocked...". Surely you can understand that when an entity calls the main site of a beloved organization that I happen to be a member of "questionable content" as if it were kiddy porn, it is a bit upsetting. You have to take responsibility for your misbehaving infobots.

Stay sweet...

Randall Parker said at October 5, 2005 12:46 AM:

TC Dean,

Calling your comments "questionable content" does not strike me as a sign of incompetence.

Sione Vatu said at October 5, 2005 2:21 AM:

CO2 has nothing to do with anything I am concerned about. I do not worry about it. Do not care a whit. IF (and it's a big 'if') there is a climate change caused by man releasing EXTRA CO2 into the atmosphere and IF (another big 'if') the climate change is a bad thing and if it is worth remediating, then it will be dealt with. The market will see to it. But it would have to be worth the trouble and replacement technologies would have to be way superior to what we have presently.

I am happy with liquid fuels. Liquid hydrocarbon fuels are easy to distribute and simple to use. Plenty of energy density. Gaseous hydrocarbons are in a distant second place as they do require pressurised containers and that is a disadvantage. It has been reported previously that hydrocarbon fuels could be synthesised from chemical processes powered by sunlight and atmospheric carbon dioxide (a plant that acted like a plant). That would keep the anti-CO2 greenhouse gas people happy, me too if it's cheap enough. It may well be that a pure synthetic fuel could be formualted to minimise engine-out emission; a nice bonus.

I don't care much for batteries. Too much mass. Too little range. Too slow to recharge. Too few cycles before failure. They can't be easily repaired or reworked but must be replaced on a regular basis. They are full of toxins and heavy metals and all sorts of nasties. Too sensitive to environmental conditions (like temperature and vibration). Way, way, way too expensive. This all adds up to; too much trouble to be worth the effort.

And forget about hydrogen. Really!

To replace one technology with a new one, it is necessary that the new technology is well superior to the old. And that does not mean that some govt. boondoggle outfit gets a hand out or a regulation passed to force people to use it. It means, it must provide superior utility for the end user. That's me!

So far I do not see anything remotely competative with the ICE (although some of the hybrids are interesting). Back to the car park!

Bulldog said at October 5, 2005 4:42 AM:

I'm beginning to think that people need lots of crisis to keep themselves going. Are all of us just tragedy queens? It's beginning to look like it. Or is this mass sense of crisis something the mainstream media foists on us to sell their product? Does anybody do anything besides worry? Are there any resourceful and productive people around? Is cotwo the new boogeyman? The radio news devoted about five seconds to the Nobel Prize winners and about five hours to Mayor Nagin whining about how he can't keep all his cronies on public payroll because nasty old Fema restricted use of funds to disaster related activities. I've got an idea. Lay off Mayor Nagin. New Orleans might have a chance to recover if Nagin and Governor Buncko were sent packing.

Ivan Kirigin said at October 5, 2005 7:52 AM:

Can someone send a good resource for normalizing these changes in "greenhouse gases" with changes in GDP? I wouldn't at all be surprised if, given the greater growth in the US, the US emits less per unit GDP.

I'd also like to see such numbers for energy generation generally. Why people don't normalize like this is beyond me. Incompetence, I guess.

If someone wants to look at the CIA world fact-book, you could probably compare country-by-country.

Thrasymachus said at October 5, 2005 8:25 AM:
"IF (and it's a big 'if') there is a climate change caused by man releasing EXTRA CO2 into the atmosphere and IF (another big 'if') the climate change is a bad thing and if it is worth remediating, then it will be dealt with. The market will see to it."

Through magic? The only 'market solutions' that I have ever heard for environmental problems involve huge unworkable government measures to inject cleanup costs into resource use costs. But if you've got a market mechanism, please share.

And how big an 'if' is CO2-induced climate change? You have some access to some climate models that the rest of us don't?

Randall Parker said at October 5, 2005 9:26 AM:


I have not seen the analysis you speak of. But I've seen similar analyses based on total energy usage and GDP.

If one uses purchasing power parity GDP and plots it against energy usage the industrial economies all fall pretty close to a line. China is not an outlier and claims that China is energy inefficient are false.

The United States is an outlier above the line but not greatly so. Korea and Canada fall further above the line than the United States. That's probably due to old winters in both cases. The UK and Germany fall a respectabl distance below the line but, again, not enormously so. The various countries in the world are not far apart in their use of energy per purchasing power parity GDP output unit.

My guess is that Germany's accomplishment is greater than Britain's because Germany has colder winters. But it is hard for the United States. Canada, and Australia to match that level of efficiency because we have more rural populations and larger agricultural sectors which grow food for export. Also, other industries that are more energy intense (e.g. aluminum smelting) are not evenly distributed and make various countries look more or less energy efficient.

Mind you, the graph looks very different if you calculate GDP using current exchange rates (which is what most analyses do). I know one guy who did this analysis with purchasing power parity GDP and he found the surprisingly consistent level of energy efficiency.

I don't have the graph to show to you. I'd have to ask the guy I know who did all this in an Excel spreadsheet whether I could distribute it.

Tdean said at October 5, 2005 9:39 AM:

S. Vatu,

"IF (another big 'if') the climate change is a bad thing and if it is worth remediating, then it will be dealt with. The market will see to it."

You clearly do not have a whit of understand about the economics of pollution. The free market provides zero incentive for reducing pollution. If I own a factory on a river and I can dump toxic waste into it for free, I receive a free valuable service and the people downstream who get sick pay the cost. In the same way, you cannot dump your garbage on public highways. You have to pay to have it taken to a landfill. If the owner of a power plant can dump pollution into the air, he pays nothing to get rid of his waste and the people downwind get sick and pay the hospital bills. Any reasonable sense of justice requires the victim of pollution to be protected from the more powerful polluter just as a victim of street crime needs police protection from the more powerful armed robber. This is why pollution is and must be regulated by the government. The fact that it is always cheaper to produce something by polluting freely explains why industry always opposes environmental regulation. They want to dump their garbage in your back yard for free and they will spend large amounts of money to convince you that is the right thing to do. It is clear that Exxon-Mobil has succeeded in your case to convince you that CO2 is no problem with their millions spent on "public education" and junk science to proxies like the American Enterprise Institute.

The vast majority of scientists involved in climate research believe that global warming is largely due to greenhouse gases generated by humans. And current research demonstrates that there is a clear relationship between higher sea surface temperatures and a greater number of intense hurricanes and typhoons around the world. It was very obvious when Katrina passed into the Gulf of Mexico, which had water temperatures of 90 degrees, it immediately exploded into a category five storm. Sea surface temperatures around the world are increasing rapidly in lock step with atmospheric warming and there is no reason to doubt the science that predicts increasing numbers of dangerous hurricanes, glacial melting and sea level rise. I doubt that the potential for increased agricultural productivity in places like Canada and Siberia will outweigh the negative effects of climate change and the very real possibility the world climate will be driven into an unstable state that would be disasterous to world agriculture. Virtually the entire world outside the US and the Exxon-Mobil propaganda machine agrees that unrestricted CO2 emissions growth is too risky for the world as a whole.

Your naive and blithe acceptance of the myth that the free market has the power to automatically solve any problem makes the point that Exxon-Mobil and other consortiums of major polluters do not spend their money foolishly on propaganda and junk science. With a deluded populace and bought off politicians, they are having their way with the public's land, air and water.

Dave Schuler said at October 5, 2005 10:15 AM:

Your trackbacks appear to be messed up, so ping!

Bob Badour said at October 5, 2005 12:10 PM:


The vast majority of scientists involved in climate research believe that global warming is largely due to greenhouse gases generated by humans.

Do you have a reference to cite to back up this remarkable claim? I have heard that a majority of them disagree with the above statement.

JimJam said at October 5, 2005 12:53 PM:

"...he pays nothing to get rid of his waste and the people downwind get sick and pay the hospital bills" Quote by Tdean.
Maybe if their was a national health system in the US and lots of people getting sick meant higer taxes, the goverment would soon clamp down on pollution. at the mo the people getting F****ed are the poor, they DIE.

also all the scientest I speak to/hear 50% say global warming is due to humans.
HA you say. However but the rest are undecided, less the 10% OPPOSE that view.
of course these are non US scientest
Long term number show a trend.
Lots of small area research THAT CANT BE DISCREDITED show corralation.

OH and BTW siberia is one of the wettest places around, there is tons of water locke in the ground as ice. it defrosting is NOT going to help things

If your not worried listen to this fact!1409 12406
china (world biggest and fastest growing)produces 5 time less waste than japan the worlds most effecient devoloped nation.
or to put it another way 40 times less the US the worlds biggest polluter! lets hope they dont develop???

BTW what is wrong with Methene as a fuel?

Bob Badour said at October 5, 2005 1:20 PM:


I live with socialized medicine. I fail to see the good in forcing the wealthy and affluent to die needlessly right alongside the poor--out in the corridor.

Tdean said at October 5, 2005 1:54 PM:

Bob B,

Here's one just a little more recent and probably a lot less biassed. ( http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/226175_climate29.html) If you pose a poll question the right way, you can get any answer you want. "Do you agree that the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence indicates that global warming is no longer a theory but a fact..." Many competent scientists would disagree with that assertion because it makes the common mistake of confusing theory with hypothesis. Theories contain facts and provide a theoretical framework for them.

Here's another source (originally from Wikipedia) that reviews a number of polls of climate scientists. http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/encyclopedia/s/sc/scientific_opinion_on_climate_change.htm

I would say you had to do some digging to find that incredibly weak reference.

jimcrack said at October 5, 2005 3:54 PM:

Here-here for the reactionary idea of taxing China over greenhouse emissions. I keep trying to tell my free-market buddies, who say who cares if we benefit from countries that dump export goods on us at a loss? that these exporters can also benefit my life if they pay my taxes for me, with tarriffs. During Bush I we lost a golden opportunity to tell China that in return for MFN, they would have to invest in clean-coal technology, and specifically buy components from the US. Not a bad idea if anyone had the foresight: PRC currently owns $60 bil in US Treasury Bills, which is how they spend their trade account surplus. The money is virtually scrip, providing no material benefit (more or less like useless japanese investment in real estate in the 80's) but begging to be used as a tool of intergovernmental blackmail over Washington. I suggest they spend it on American steel-related plant and equipment, and help modernize US steel mills through demand, rather than making us do the same through tariffs such as recently enacted by Bush II. China in turn would cut coal emissions by at least 50% over their 1950's technology, reduce water demand by utilities 90% (apparantly a serious problem since China is mostly a savannah supporting 4x as many people as the US on an equivalent sized landmass)and forestall the public health issues we now come to associate with the former Soviet Union and Johns Manville.

And another tax: Brazil has recently been described as turning the Amazon from the world's largest CO2 sponge into the world's largest ashtray, because those rancheros continue to burn forests to make cattle ranges. And they tell us how smart they are to clear more land for sugarcane to make ethanol for cars. A ban on brazilian beef and oranges might send the right message.

Randall Parker said at October 5, 2005 4:26 PM:


Since China's electric demand is growing rapidly most of their coal plants are pretty new.

Also, I think the argument that China is an inefficient user of energy is a myth. In purchasing power parity GDP they are pretty similar to Western countries in terms of energy used per amount of economic output.

China's growth in energy demand is due to its growing economy. They could just as easily justify taxing our exports as us taxing theirs.

Tdean said at October 5, 2005 4:51 PM:

I wish the recently passed US energy bill took energy efficiency as seriously as the Chinese policy does:


The difference is that the US energy bill was pretty much written by and for big business. US business has significant incentives to increase the efficiency of their operations but very little incentive to manufacture efficient products for consumers.

Randall Parker said at October 5, 2005 4:59 PM:

US greenhouse gas emissions grew only 20% while the US economy grew 46%.

I keep hearing myths about energy efficiency that are unsupported by comparisons between nations in terms of ratio of economic output to either energy use or GHG emissions. The range between the least and most efficient nations is just not that large - especially once mix of industries, population densities, and coldness of winters are taken into account.

Marvin said at October 5, 2005 5:50 PM:

Randall: Here is an interesting site on climate issues that reminds me of gnxp.com in the scrupulous care of its renegade iconoclastic approach to its chosen science. Not for the true believers, strictly for the open minded.

Tdean said at October 5, 2005 6:57 PM:

And here's an interesting site (I'll figure out the html one of these days) that has a great searchable database for countries including any number of environmental variables including energy intensity.


Tdean said at October 5, 2005 7:53 PM:


I'd say that your site is not for the open minded. It is for the sucker for Exxon-Mobil and other big energy propaganda. Most of the studies and references lead back to climatechangeissues.com, a partner of Exxon-Mobil funded Techcentralstation.com. The huge profits that Exxon-Mobil and other energy giant corporations are making these days buys an enourmous amount of BS on behalf of the "Freedom to Pollute" bunch.

For folks interested in the truth about Techcentralstation and its myriad of other E-M supported manifestations check out:


Sumyung Guy said at October 6, 2005 2:12 AM:

***Do you have a reference to cite to back up this remarkable claim? I have heard that a majority of them disagree with the above statement. ***

Bob, I realize that you and Tdean have ideological differences and I also realize that Tdean is apparently not too popular with some folks on these boards, but in June of this year the US National Academy of Sciences signed off on the Joint science adademies' statement: Global response to climate change. This isn't the first time that the NAS has come out with a report that the Earth is getting warmer and that human activities are helping to cause it.

As a side note, I work on a college campus in a conservative southern state in the US. Until a few months ago, I worked in the Biology Department and had for years, and I have had plenty of opportunity to chat with the professors of that department over this issue. Now, all of these guys aren't in climate research needless to say, but these are smart well educated biologists and I can tell you that they're very concerned. That's enough to make me concerned about it too. These are scientists who, by their profession, are a fractious bunch that are normally busy trying to poke holes in each other's research and tell the other guy why he's wrong. It's the very nature of science itself to be highly critical. If you get six of these guys together in a room, you'd normally have a hard time getting them to agree on practically anything.

But a lot of them, even in a conservative state that's pratically the buckle of the bible belt, agree on this Bob. Global warming is real, it's happening now, and human activities are helping to cause it.

remo williams said at October 6, 2005 2:35 AM:

"Mind you, the graph looks very different if you calculate GDP using current exchange rates (which is what most analyses do). I know one guy who did this analysis with purchasing power parity GDP and he found the surprisingly consistent level of energy efficiency."

Randall, ppp is the correct way to measure this, but even the IPCC report I saw (last couple years) incorrectly uses current exchange rates. After reading enough on global warming you get the clear sense that some very bright scientists do not understand even basic economics.

Bulldog said at October 6, 2005 4:36 AM:

Global warming is part of a natural cycle. It happens with regularity, people or no people. People generate co2 but nature generates a whole lot more. It's a gravy train for climatologists and the IPCC. Rake it in, folks, make hay while the sun shines. Gather the rubes and suck them dry. That realclimate.org site is a real propaganda outlet. Makes moveon.org look like choirboys.

Bulldog said at October 6, 2005 4:58 AM:

I like it when the math challenged fools who couldn't even add 2 and 2 start bloviating about what is "proved" scientifically. Keep it up dimwits.

Tdean said at October 6, 2005 6:37 AM:


Hey, I'd rather be right than popular, especially among a bunch of rabid, right wing ideologues. I am a geophysicist working in the petroleum business, and I have been studying the science of climate change since the 70s. Cutting carbon emissions isn't exactly in my economic self interest, but it is definitely the right thing to do for the earth as a whole.

I actually feel a little sorry for weak minded people like the Bulldog who don't seem to realize that the fatcat CEO's of giant energy companies make a lot more money by spewing out carbon than scientists who study its effects. Virtually all of the skeptic junk science is financed directly or indirectly by Exxon-Mobil or other big energy companies. And anthropogenic CO2 is several thousand times that produced by volcanism. Not even the most radical professional skeptics deny that the increase in CO2 is due to human emissions. Keep your head in the sand, Bulldog.

Bob Badour said at October 6, 2005 6:54 AM:

Sumyung Guy,

Of course global warming is a real phenomenon and a real concern. In fact, it has been an ongoing process for most of the past 14,000 years--since before humans cleared fields let alone created industry. Humans have had to abandon settlements -- even entire cities -- due to climate change. It happens, and it will happen again.

I note that even brilliant scientists are susceptible to the same alarmist propaganda as the rest of us. What would be interesting to find out is whether your colleagues are aware of the 'hockey stick' graph that features so heavily in recent IPCC documents and that seems so heavily to influence all of these proclamations like the one from the NAS? And whether your colleagues consider the method by which the graph was constructed good science?


I checked out the paranoid blacklist site you linked to. I see that according to that site Exxon-Mobil is one of a dozen or more corporate sponsors of the Tech Central Science Foundation. According to that site, I see techcentralstation has dozens of contributing writers who seem intelligent and well-informed to me--some even widely recognizable. In fact, the list puts them right up alongside the Cato Institute!

I see the blacklist site has quite an extensive list of enemies among whom I found organizations committed to improving accuracy in media and in news reporting. Heaven forbid we have any of that!

I also checked out the searchable energy data site. For this discussion, the data set for energy consumption per GDP normalized to purchasing price parity in constant 1995 dollars would seem the most relevant. Thanks for the link!

Bob Badour said at October 6, 2005 7:01 AM:


Hey, I'd rather be right than popular

Your preference would have greater relevance if you were either.

And anthropogenic CO2 is several thousand times that produced by volcanism.

Cite? Relevance?

Joseph said at October 6, 2005 10:11 AM:

How old are you actually tdean? About 15? Grow up and learn some mathmatics. Perhaps learn concepts such as terminal velocity etc. Mr. Newton is still waiting to pass his knowledge on to you if you would just be receptive.

For those interested I'd recommend www.friendsofscience.org .Some very good professionals who make solid points about the
issues and myths in climeatology. If you study the history of the global warming hysterical pandemic and still insist on erotically clinging to kyoto protocals then there's no hope for you.

There's to many people out there who are growing hysterical over bad psuedo science and diverting resources that could be use to fix important issues. I actually support carbon sequestering since we should try to remain nuetral and we might have an industrial use for all that concentrated carbon someday. Also, and I make a prediction here, when it's determined in a few decades that we're about to enter into a global cooling/ice age again having that carbon around to dump into the atmosphere might be handy in trying to buffer the more adverse effects. Notice I said try. What was the percentage of co2 in earth's atmosphere a century ago? ~3%. What is it now? ~3%. Out of about the +35C in greenhouse effects generated by earths atmosphere ~0.7C is attributeable to CO2.

Sensei said at October 6, 2005 1:10 PM:

Well, Bulldog in his rashness has caught tdeen out in an outright lie. I took some trouble to check out the climateaudit website. It's a fascinating place. Ten minutes of careful snooping is enough to see the people there are not only intelligent and honest, but they obviously don't take money from anybody to run their site. They clearly love doing it, and lose a lot of time and money in that pursuit. So tden lied about that. What else is tden dishonest about? Probably just about everything.

The gentlemen who run the climate audit site maintain an interesting dialogue with visitors. It's by far the most open and honest discussion of climate issues that I've seen.

Sione Vatu said at October 6, 2005 2:05 PM:

Dean & Thrasymachus (!). Such anger. Such fury. It's been heard before. Getting angry and ranting does not make you correct. Nor does ad hominem attack. You're priviledged to even read this but it's not for your benefit. It is for the benefit of other people who read these posts. Perhaps this may will assist you or perhaps not.

Here is what the Dean/Thrasymachus approach boils down to:
1/. They do not like what I wrote.

2/. They get angry because I dared challenge their ideas.

3/. So then the adhominem attack against me is lauched (according to these two I do not understand science or economics!)

4/. Plenty of assertions without consideration or provision of evidence (ONE example is the ad hominem and yet they know nothing about me, what I do, what qualifications I have and so on. How can they be certain I do not know my economics and science? What if I know more than they do?)

5/. Presentation of social metaphysics as an argument.

Don't fall into the same mistakes as these two. They have nothing.

Dean & Thrasymachus, here are some facts:
1/. I do not care about whether you agree with me or not.

2/. Your state of mind and emotional status is irrelevant. Who cares whether you are happy or sad, whether you are angry, emotional, upset or even if you are offended? I just do not care about your state of mind at all. I do not care about you. You are unimportant. So emote all you like but should you wish to debate you had better come up with something rational.

3/. Ad hominen attacks mean nothing. The lack of rational argument leads you to use the ad hominem.

4/. With regards to CO2, I am well aware of the literature, the theory, the arguments and the databases. Should you go back to my original post you will read a series of IF tests. They are the required proofs which must be satisfied prior to any action. These are not trivial. It is still required to show that CO2 levels raising in the atmosphere CAUSES global warming. Once this is is established then it is required to show that mankind is the root CAUSE of the extra CO2. Then it is necessary to show that this IS undesirable. It is necessary to show that a climate change WILL be a NECESSARILY bad outcome for MAN. Finally it needs to be shown that the magnitude of the change makes it worth doing something about. At every stage proofs are necessary. Otherwise you don't have science, you have religon. And if you intend to bring back religon as a means of dealing with human affairs you are really saying that blind belief is superior to reason and knowledge. With a religon it becomes possible to justify any act, no matter what. Surely we have progressed past such a state in human affairs.

5/. A majority can be wrong and often is. This is witnessed in politics, science, economics, sports and so on. I've seen it myself, many times. The fact that a majority hold a viewpoint does not in and of itself make that viewpoint correct.

If you are going to disagree with me, especially about economics and free markets you had better know your material. Ditto for science.

In order to resolve this let's start from what a free market is. Do you boys know the difference between socialism (which features cronyism as an attribute) and a free market based on respect for private property? Do you know what a "mixed market" is and why it does not work?

Here is a clue. If I own the river downstream from you and you pollute it, then you are damaging my property. Of course should the river belong to the state (that is, nobody owns it) then that would be a different situation.

What is referred to as pollution or environmental degradation today is really nothing more than the Tragedy of the Commons revisited. There's another clue right there.

Sione says, "Think hard!"


Randall Parker said at October 6, 2005 2:12 PM:


Ad hominem attack is one of TC Dean's standard debating tactics. He will, for example, simply assert that the other debater is on the payroll of some organization or faction. I stopped arguing with him months ago.

However, I fail to see how you've made your case about free markets preventing environmental damage. Free markets will only restrict pollution when external costs are internalized. If the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere is causing some damage to some people's assets or earning capabilities I do not see how those external costs can create an incentive for decreased emissions without a very elaborate regulatory regime for measuring costs and taxing pollution.

Sione Vatu said at October 6, 2005 2:26 PM:

Interesting how "scientists" are apt to promote yet more statism as the "solution" to what they identify as problems. For example, they say CO2 in the atmosphere is a problem and conclude:

1/. The state needs to pay more money for further "research" (that's another way of saying scientists want more handouts of taxpayer money, in other words they are acting as a lobby group)

2/. The state needs to enforce more regulations, make people pay more money to the state and force people to do what it is the scientists think they should be doing (ah, the ego of knowning better what it is your neighbour should be doing than does he). Therefore state needs to expand and attain more powers (what politician or bureaucrat wouldn't agree).

Of course these scientists are paid by the state so none of this should be a surprise.

And the political class figures that actioning point one gets a justification for point two, so why not? It's a good deal (for them).

Randall Parker said at October 6, 2005 2:48 PM:


How is the market on its own going to shift pollution costs onto the polluters?

One reason I favor a bigger government funded push to develop new energy technologies is so that we can avoid a big regulatory scheme to reduce pollution from fossil fuels burning. Given enough advances in photovoltaics and batteries they'd displace fossil fuels just because they'd be cheaper even before accounting for external cost differences.

But my solution holds no appeal for either the libertarian free market idealists or the socialists and regulation lovers. It only appeals to practical people.

Tdean said at October 6, 2005 3:57 PM:


"I fail to see how you've made your case about free markets preventing environmental damage. "

Good to see that you’ve stopped arguing and decided to support my side. Maybe you're not such a bad guy after all, even if you do spew bad language like a spoiled brat when you are challenged.

Sione not only didn't make his case about free markets and pollution, he spent a huge amount of space and made no significant points at all. He certainly shows considerable ignorance about the use of science in setting public policy (and by the way, stating that someone doesn't know what they are talking about is not an ad hominem attack). Real science deals in probabilities not in "proofs". Sione says "At every stage proofs are necessary." When talking about climate science, there are no proofs at all. It is absolutely true that weather and climate are chaotic on all time scales and that there are considerable uncertainties inherent in climate models, which are the only means by which meaningful predictions about the effects of increasing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere are possible. Multiple runs of huge supercomputer-based models are necessary to begin to understand the relevant probabilities. Because of this, it is impossible to calculate a unique number that defines the external cost of emitting a ton of CO2 into the atmosphere. Many very competent climate scientists point out that anthropogenic climate forcing could lead to a severe destabilization of the current climate regime leading to rapid changes in climate that would lead to economic losses in the tens of trillions of dollars. While that is not a likely scenario, its huge cost makes it a very significant threat, such that pre-emptive action becomes a very viable consideration. There are many lesser levels of threat associated with climate change that have a much higher probability of occurrence. What is clear is that arriving at reasonable projections of climate change threat probabilities that can be used as a reasonable basis for public policy or global policy decisions is a huge undertaking, requiring the most powerful computers that are available. It is only governments that have those resources and what is also clear is that the scientists doing this research are virtually unanimous in asserting that the threats are very significant. These considerations are extremely complex and impossible for laypeople on either side of the policy debates to comprehend fully. Commercial interests like large oil companies are clearly making good use of ignorance and uncertainty to advance their bottom lines, to the detriment of the public. The issues of climate policy have to be debated, since they are clearly political in nature, but for the debate to be dominated by commercial interests with vast monetary resources and well established networks of propaganda outlets is a very serious problem for the process of policy making. When the government itself is corrupted to its core by the same interests, good policy is impossible, as we can clearly see from current events.

Sione, I have no idea what you are talking about when you write of my anger in my response to you. I am only correcting your obvious misstatements, which even Randall recognizes, and pointing out the danger of the populace being similarly deluded by powerful commercial interests with huge stakes in promoting your delusions. You mistake the power of my arguments for anger.

And to correct the record, I never “asserted” that Randall is paid by commercial interests to assist in running this site, I only asked whether or not he did in fact receive material support from energy related entities. Randall has steadfastly refused to disclose whether or not he has received such support. You decide what that means.

And Sensei, if you carefully re-read what I wrote, you will see I never said that the Climateaudit site was financed by energy interests. I only stated that most of the links to studies in this denialist site were to sources financed by those commercial interests. So while I could call your statement a lie, I will assume it is just an honest error due to your poor English comprehension. Keep working at it. English proficiency is a big plus in business careers.

Tdean said at October 6, 2005 4:56 PM:


Come on! Now if I have been studying climate change issues since the 70s I would have to be older than fifteen, right? You know the petroleum business has been very good to me lately, and I make my money every day with higher math and physics, so your ranting about my ignorance in math and physics is nothing less than hilarious. Especially when you say "What was the percentage of co2 in earth's atmosphere a century ago? ~3%. What is it now? ~3%." Go to Google.com and type in "Carbon dioxide atmosphere concentration" and see what you get. Why do I even try?

Bob B,

Ok, dude. You got me. I did make a mistatement when I said "several thousand times". I am sure I had recently read that, but a quick check indicates that it is only hundreds of times more anthropogenic CO2 than volcanic. http://volcanology.geol.ucsb.edu/gas.htm But there is considerable uncertainty in the long term average of volcanic emissions. Why is that relevant? Because before humans began increasing the CO2 levels, volcanic CO2 was the only source of CO2 outside the biosphere unless you want to talk about comets. So given that we humans are producing orders of magnitude (some vagueness is appropriate) more CO2 than natural systems had established an equilibrium with, it shows how absurd the denialist arguments are (that our impact is insignificant). Our impact is not only significant, it is overwhelming. Whether it's hundreds or thousands. But two points (insignificant in the scheme of things) for you.

Thrasymachus said at October 6, 2005 5:22 PM:

Sione Vatu

For future reference, please note that at the bottom of every post a name is attached on the last line before the date. Here is an example:

Posted by Thrasymachus at October 4, 2005 07:16 PM
Posts labeled "Tdean" come from one person, while those labeled "Thrasymachus" come from another person. When attacking "Dean/Thrasymachus" constrain your characterizations to what both of us have written, as none of yours applied to me.

I also note that you answered neither of my questions.

Tdean said at October 6, 2005 6:10 PM:


I don't think his attacks apply to me either. Did I sound angry? I was smiling the whole time I was typing that.

He'll attack anybody who disagrees with him and then claim "ad hominem, ad hominem". I guess he likes Latin. Never answered any of my points either.

Sione Vatu said at October 6, 2005 6:39 PM:


First, thank you for providing such an interesting site. Plenty here for a good read.

You're correct. I have made no case for free markets reducing environmental damage. In essence all I said was that if the CO2 problem was real, proved, of sufficient magnitude and worth the trouble to solve, it would be. The market will see to that. My intention was to use Mr. Dean to demonstrate some common misunderstandings of what the free market is and what it is not. Who knows, he may be able to learn.

When I made comment that the markets will take care of problems, I rely on the fact that it is the voluntary action of individuals solving their own problems and perfecting their own lives that provides the solution to problems. That is what a free market consists of, nothing more. There is no need for govt. control or oversight or authority ruling economic activity at all. "Free" means free of interference.

A free market based on private property rights solves the pollution issue by providing owners with a long term interest in their property and also by making them responsible for what they do with their property. For example, should I own the river downstream from Dean and he pollutes it, then he has damaged my property. I can take action about that, requiring his action be remedied (stop polluting) and should I (or my property) suffer direct damage, compensation for direct damages (NEVER punitive damages, even should he so deserve).

Unfortunately the apparatus of state does not recognise the concept of private property consistently. Its "laws" and regulations do not promote a consistent protection of private property (How could they? For a start tax is a destruction of private property; a theft). This makes it impossible to defend my long term interests in the river or anything else. It allows people to abandon certain responsibilities for their activities. Now all we have is a short term mindset.

Take the situation where state "owns" the river. The effect is that no-one owns it. People up-stream and down-stream have no real interest in it over the long term and so they can do whatever they can get away with. There is no incentive to preserve or maximise value, only to get while the going is good. Extract value before the other guy does. This is an example of the Tragedy of the Commons.

Of course the state has regulations to appear to "control" pollution or limit it. This is all about appearances. What really happens is the state grants special monopoly privileges to its agents & cronies (often large corporations) to do as they will, while imposing arbitrary costs (prohibition on competition, limitations on property rights, taxes, regulations, imposts etc.) and real costs (such as damage to property, environment, establishment of wars and so on) on everybody else. Very often it is the state itself (through various organs) that pollutes the most. An obvious example is the situation on many military installations; toxic mess and environmental degradation of unprecedented scale and permanence (since no-one owns this land there is no incentive for anyone to preserve it or protect it).

It is of vital importance to understand the difference between socialism (which is where the state runs the economy), the free market (where the state has absolutely no control over the economy; this is also known as Capitalism or laissez faire Capitalism) and the "mixed" market (which is just another variant of socialism). The best material to read concerning this is written by von Mises, Rothbard and Reisman. They are detailed and complete. Henry Hazlitt wrote a very accessible work, "Economics in one lesson" which is a sound introduction and quick overview. His work is easy to read, fast and to the point.

Note: The USA is not a free market. This is most important and not something many people realise. It's not the line the ruling regime wants brought to the attention of Americans but it remains a fact nevertheless.

Do not favour ever bigger govt. projects and boondoggles. Rorts! They are almost inevitably an inefficient waste of resource (human, material, capital). They are hopelessly immoral and corrupt. They usually lead to worse problems than they set out to solve. Take the war in Iraq as an example. Take a look at all the effects of that adventure. More interestingly, consider the previous actions that led to it. "If govt. is the answer, what's the question?"

To see new technologies become established the last thing you want is govt. interference! Get them out of the economy.

Last point. You are right about Mr. Dean. I thought I exposed his method rather accurately. Spot on! Scorched the little blighter's ego!

More later.



Sione Vatu said at October 6, 2005 6:46 PM:


Re methane gas as fuel.

Methane is not a bad internal combustion engine fuel. It has a high octane ratio which is a real advantage for a spark ignition internal combustion engine. There are drawbacks but they can be handled if you are careful.

CH4 requires a large pressure cylinder to store a reasonable amount on board a vehicle. This is less convenient than a tank of liquid fuel at atmospheric pressure. Range is reduced. Filling time is increased. Mass and cost disadvantages accrue but can be addressed with sensible design. Another drawback is that when you introduce the methane into the inlet manifold of an engine it occupies more volume than gasoline would. Therefore it displaces some of the air that would otherwise be aspirated into the engine. This means less air can be burned per stroke and thus less power is available. That can be addressed by using DFI or you could consider supercharging or turbocharging (these are easier to achieve than DFI; less mucking around to set up). Additionally you may need to make provision for upper cylinder lubrication and the status of the valve seats of the engine should be checked prior to using methane.

Apart from that it is a useable fuel. Not as easy to get or use as gasoline or diesel but it has its own certain advantages.

Another alternative you may want to try is methanol. That works well. I would still be using it were it available at the pump and if it didn't absorb water.


Randall Parker said at October 6, 2005 6:55 PM:


I've read Henry Hazlitt, Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, George Reisman, and assorted other famous (or not so famous) free market advocates. I read all that stuff in the early 1980s. I understand the arguments. I understand the Austrian school, the Objectivists, some of the big "L" Libertarians, and others.

But you haven't answered the question. How will a market stop pollution? Suppose CO2 emissions will cause damage to various pieces of property by, for example, shifting weather patterns so that some farms that formerly got rain now are barren. How will the market fix this situation? Should the farmers sue everyone in the world who burns fossil fuels? Much of the CO2 in the atmosphere will have been put there decades earlier and the people who put it there will have since died. Who to sue?

The market does not make everyone virtuous. Lots of businesses have demonstrated a willingness to pollute and cause harm to others for as long as they could get away with it. Some tell tall tales and hire lobbyists so they can keep emitting mercury, oxides of sulfur, and oxides of nitrogen. The damage that comes from these substances is well known. The market has not produced solutions that companies willingly adopt.

Again, history speaks against the idea that the market will solve all the problems with external costs such as the external costs caused by pollution.

Joseph said at October 6, 2005 7:04 PM:

Why do you try Tdean? Because you're a self possesed cretin. Still waiting on the cessna to drop the laser directed, jato rocket guided 2000lb mild steel penetrator (produced in a garage apparently from cast off radio shack parts) from 8000 ft which will somehow go trans sonic before piecing the dome of a US nuclear plant. As far as your vast "studies" wellll sure I believe you. Hint try using books or professional sites instead of relying on googling any vague bs put on the net by your peer group. But as you say "why do I try".

Tdean said at October 6, 2005 9:31 PM:


"Why do you try Tdean? Because you're a self possesed cretin."

Now that is an ad hominem attack. Not a particularly creative or intelligent one, but rather than admit he was dead wrong about CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, he simply calls people names. See how that is different than my statements about you not understanding free markets and pollution? I then gave several examples as to why free markets don't work when it comes to pollution or armed robbers. And you refuted none of them, only claiming I was somehow picking on you because I was angry. Not in the least. Even Randall, who clearly hates my guts for insisting on honesty and transparency, agrees that you don't know what you are talking about. So why bother to pretend that you have in some way bested me in debate? You only fool yourself.

By your ranting about free markets and how terrible government is you would seem to be an anarchist. But who would go squealing to the police when the armed robber stole your money and car and blew off your kneecaps? Sione! You see, some people don't respect property, or other's rights or other's health. The armed robber and the CEO of a big energy company that spews poison in the air both belong in that group. So then the choice is to hunt down the robber yourself and kill him (and his family if you are a traditional sort) and take your things back and whatever else is lying around, or in the case of the CEO, assassinate him with a high power rifle and blow up his power plant. I don't know. That just doesn't sound like an advance of civilization to me. Let me know when you have a good idea.

Bulldog said at October 7, 2005 4:38 AM:

Randall, too bad you must deal with unintelligent and dishonest trolls who only obscure issues and start flame wars. Long winded too! :-)

As far as your discussion about free market approaches to pollution and co2, you have to avoid conflating the two problems. Pollution is one thing and co2 is quite another. Here's one discussion about free market environmentalism. It's not my specialty but if you really want to get beyond an initial scepticism to the topics being discussed, there is a lot of material available.

Thrasymachus said at October 7, 2005 7:40 AM:

From Bulldog's link:

Probably the most incontrovertible example of market failure is air pollution because market solutions depend on definitions of property rights, which in regard to air pollution are tough to define. Matters can be improved, however, even in this difficult case. For example, we can at the very least decide to use tradable permits, which are certainly better than the arbitrary regulation that now takes place.

The other way of helping in these tough cases is to better understand how the common law might have helped solve such problems. Me suing you to collect for damages you have inflicted on my airspace with your power plant might take care of many of the problems we have with things like air pollution without government regulation. I just finished editing a book called Environmental Federalism in which I claim that in cases of true market failures, we should devolve responsibility for solving them to the lowest level. If it's a local or county problem, there's no reason for the state government to interfere.

Permits are not some sort of free market solution: they're another type of government regulation that suffer from the flaws and pitfalls that all regulations do. Free market "emulation" by government rarely succeeds. Emulation regulations are never put into law as their designers dream them up to be, and they can never be implemented as they are put into law. Straightforward industry regulation is tried and true, has less complexity and less chance to go wrong (though it often does, of course).

And lawsuits are his other solution? I can just imagine how that will work out.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. There is full agreement from the scientific community that CO2 is increasing due to human action. Some (few) scientists argue that it is not yet possible to know that this has caused any warming. These (few) scientists also argue that our models of the immediate future are severely lacking. There is no disagreement that enough CO2 will eventually cause big problems. The only question is how long do we have to go before we are seriously affected. And by current best models: not long.

To avoid numerous doublings of CO2 in the atmosphere in future decades (note to those who never studied mathematics much: O(2^n) is a lot), we have few options. With current technology we can either:

  1. Cut energy consumption
  2. Or generate the energy we need with fission power.

That's about it as far as options go. Then again, there is always "3. Pray for solar paint."

Randall Parker said at October 7, 2005 9:44 AM:


Long winded comments usually have very low signal to noise ratios. People who are writing long comments ought to stop and read them over and edit out. It is usually a waste of time to respond to every point another commenter makes. Choose important points. Respond succinctly, preferably with data and links to support your point.


The idea that courts could efficiently adjudicate environmental claims is ridiculous. We know from the big liablity controversies where thousands of people sue a manufacturer that the results are more like a lottery than anything else. Lawyers in big firms hire test juries and run cases past them to find out what percentage of cases they'll win and with what approaches. There's no individual justice. The added cost of all those many cases is enormous.

My view of CO2 emissions reduction is that it is extremely expensive to do with today's technology. Better to develop newer technologies first.

The most cost effective thing we could do to reduce CO2 emissions now would be to raise building codes for insulation.

Tdean said at October 7, 2005 1:21 PM:


Good points. It is clear that Anderson is straining to the breaking point on the issue of air pollution. With unrestricted air pollution, the polluter steals value from the life of the victim in precisely (ethically speaking) as the armed thug does in a street crime. The huge economic power of the polluting industry is analogous to the gun of the robber and the loss of health of the pollution victim is equivalent to money stolen from the wallet (or the gunshot wound of the resister). Pollution is a crime against society and must be treated as such. Issuing tradable permits to pollute to control pollution is like trying to control street crime by selling permits to robbers. Only fools will accept the logic “Since we have 1000 armed robberies per year, we will sell 500 permits to rob and cut the crime rate in half.” Yet this is the nonsense that industry has sold the public. The objective of the Clean Air Act was to reduce pollution to levels below which harm to the public health is no longer measurable. What has happened in the 40 years hence is the methodical dismantling of the Act by powerful industry efforts to influence legislation. This effort is supported and made possible by the huge effort by industry-supported, right wing think tanks like the Hoover Institution that distribute laissez faire nonsense to a gullible public. It is absolutely true that the output of these institutions sounds reasonable and intelligent, as some here have recently claimed. In fact it is a very cost effective and professional campaign to support big business’s right to pollute and steal from the public.

Anderson’s call to make pollution a local rather than a federal issue is an economic absurdity. If local governments control pollution, industry will purchase the right to pollute, sold to the highest bidder by local governments intent on attracting industry tax bases. Talking of “states rights” is a devious plan by polluters to divide and conquer. An early death due to pollution should be valued in the same manner throughout the nation and no entity should be permitted to purchase a license to kill.

What will stop pollution is an application of the most basic principle of law; that it is illegal to harm or steal from your neighbor.

AA2 said at October 7, 2005 5:24 PM:

The real goal of most environmentalists is de-industrialization, going back to the late 1800's style of living which they see as idealic. That is why they immediately come out against nuclear and dismiss batteries, instead saying we have to 'conserve'.

The reality is nuclear is becoming the cheapest source and that will ultimately win in the marketplace. The main cost is capital and that doesn't matter too much right now because of very low interest rates. Batteries are on the way to becoming far cheaper then gasoline for operating vehicles.

AA2 said at October 7, 2005 5:47 PM:

It also seems to be almost a law that to get wealthier you are going to use more energy. Europe is growing slowly so isn't needing to add as much energy production. China is racing along so is adding incredible amounts of energy production.

It seems silly to me to think that you could run a 21st century economy on a 13th century technology like wind power.

jimcrack said at October 7, 2005 6:32 PM:

Randall (overdue reply)

China's coal plants may be "new" but are not modern. This is essentially a planned economy which has followed the economic logic of US Steel, of ensconsing old technology in business ( who can doubt that American steel has become the least competitive of the G8 countries) In 1989, china capped an MFN deal with a multibillion dollar contract with Boeing, financed in part by the US. The "free market" chinese had no literal need for this, and some entrepreneur might instead have bought Aeroflot at the time for pennies on the dollar (which in the former USSR then constituted the world's largest airline) "Clean coal" is long overdue in the US too. This is a set of technologies including fluidized bed combustion, gasification, and turbine technologies, designed to abate pollution and solve natural gas deficiencies. PRC knew for some time they needed all of this, but as we know, the government is quite oblivious to public needs and responsible public planning. The reaction to SARS, the public rioting over pollution,declining real wages in manufacturing, diaspora from the peasant sector, and near total lack of air emissions standards prove the point. "Planning" has actually consisted of bulldozing old Beijing to create the Great Hall of the People, and displacing millions for dubious flood control projects on the Yellow River.

This is an economy directed to export at the expense of serving domestic needs. The scenario was set by Japan. the cost of such a policy is manipulation of the financial markets. China cannot indefinitely peg the Yuan to the Dollar in a manner to artificially cheapen exports, and maintain creditworthiness. Western investors will pay the piper; with Japan it was the millions of loyal savers who paid. This is not free trade, this is an intergovernmental policy issue. Which makes pointless the debate over tarriff retaliation. Supposedly the debate over CO2 emissions also transcends this.

As for how efficiently China produces GNP, I never raised the issue. This is a bogus issue. If Europeans walk or motorcycle to work more often tha Americans, this is not "efficient", this is parsimonious. Not to say that the Chinese should be condemned to ride bicycles for the rest of the millenium: but it remains to be seen whether the typical citizen will consume the work of his own hands when his wages are falling (check a back issue of Time or Newsweek on that story), and the agriculture has been, and continues to be in a shambles ( the recent repeal on the land tax seems to be a desperate measure to stave off uprisings)

My remarks on Brazil stand. I invite further comment. "The Economist" pegs Brazil as one of the worst industrialized nations when it comes to promoting business enterprises. Red tape and corruption are affecting the Amazon too. Why don't the wind-powered Eurocrats in Brussels say something?

Randall Parker said at October 7, 2005 7:30 PM:


How do you know how modern new Chinese coal plants are?

Tdean said at October 7, 2005 10:20 PM:

This report gives the efficiency of a run-of-the-mill Chinese coal fired plant, commissioned in 1985 as 37.91%.

Presumably the newer plants are more efficient.

This document gives the average US fossil fuel efficiency as 34%. http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution/tdh0301.asp

In fact, electrical generating efficiency and end use efficiency improvement is being pursued at a frenzied pace in China. Much more so than the US under the Bush regime: http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/rep/chap2.asp

They are even paying the best and the brightest from the US to research energy efficiency: http://lfee.mit.edu/public/e-lab_10.pdf

China is by far the fastest growing and most consistently growing economy in the world. Dire predictions of collapse are absurd.

So maybe Jim is talking through his crack.

Tdean said at October 7, 2005 11:03 PM:

Jimcrack: "...the agriculture (in China) has been, and continues to be in a shambles"

Right. From an Iowa State study: "Figures 1 and 2 show trends in Chinese corn and soybean yields per acre, and comparisons with the U.S. China’s yields have increased much more rapidly than in the U.S., and likely will continue to do so. " Chinese yields are not as high as in the US, but they are improving rapidly. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/articles/wisner/WisDec00.htm

Right wing ideologues just can't stand to acknowledge that China, with it's mixed entrepreneurial/Socialist economy, could possibly be successful. I am not advocating their style in the US, but in the context of developing countries, it is the most successful in the world. You can say it ain't so, but we delude ourselves at our own peril.

Bob Badour said at October 8, 2005 12:57 PM:


According to Nasa, we have another 100 years to wait before we will reach a single doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Do you have a cite for multiple doublings? Certainly O(2^n) is large for n >> 1, but it is not so scary for n < 2.

Atmospheric CO2 varied over a range of 2^8 to 2^10 times as high as today during the age of the dinosaurs, back when the polar regions were temperate.

Randall Parker said at October 8, 2005 1:06 PM:


Step back and look at the big picture. Dose anyone seriously think we'll be getting most of our energy from fossil fuels 50 years from now?

What I expect to happen in the next 30 years:

1) Photovoltaics will become really cheap.

2) Batteries will advance to the point where most cars can be battery powered. Liquid fuels or hydrogen will be used on long hauls.

3) Nuclear power will become cheaper.

4) Wind power will become cheaper.

5) Solar concentrators for Stirling type energy generation will become cheaper.

We could accelerate the day that all the above happens. I certainly favor increased government research funding to make all that happen more quickly. But it'll happen anyhow. Fossil fuel use will not continue to grow. Therefore models of future atmospheric CO2 increased due to increased fossil fuel consumption are wrong.

Does anyone think I'm wrong on my predictions? I figure the first two predictions alone are enough to cause fossil fuel consumption to peak. An order of magnitude decline in photovoltaics costs seems inevitable due to a shift away from use of expensive silicon crystals.

Tdean said at October 8, 2005 4:14 PM:

Bob B,

"According to Nasa, we have another 100 years to wait before we will reach a single doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere."

Your own reference says:

"At current rates, atmospheric carbon dioxide is expected to reach twice the pre- industrial level, 560 parts per million, within the next 100 years."

That is less than 100 years. And at current RATES OF GROWTH the time is much less. The graph shown in the movie is obviously best fit by an exponential curve. As Randall correctly points out, that exponential growth won't last very long, but the faster we start to level it off, the better off we will be.

"Atmospheric CO2 varied over a range of 2^8 to 2^10 times as high as today during the age of the dinosaurs, back when the polar regions were temperate."

Not even close. 2^8 is 256X. The graph in the reference you cite shows the levels no more than 32x which is 2^5 in the Mesozoic, which is the age of the dinosaurs. And that is a bizarre outlier in any case. And if you have to go back hundreds of millions of years, what is your point? Relevance?

The NASA reference clearly states that CO2 levels now are higher than they have been in 100,000 years - the age of Homo Erectus. And those levels are measured from ice cores, not modeled.

Your post is misleading on its face and not even consistent with your own references.

Bob Badour said at October 8, 2005 6:33 PM:

Sorry, quick and sloppy math on my part -- I slipped a couple of decimals.

The relevance is the world can support human life even if we more than double the CO2. Given that we won't come close to even doubling it because, as Randall points out above, we will stop using fossil fuels long before we get that far...

Tdean said at October 8, 2005 7:50 PM:

Bob B,

Well that's OK then. Happens to the best of us.

"The relevance is the world can support human life even if we more than double the CO2. "

But is that what we are shooting for; not causing the extinction of the human race? At any rate, the changes in CO2 leading to the levels shown in your reference changed over millions of years due to long geological and solar events and cycles. The current situation has occured in about a century. It's the difference between a gentle hug and a punch in the face.

I hope that Randall's right, but when I saw 2001 the first time thirty some years ago I thought that by now we would be traveling in monorails and everybody would have a VTOL in their garage. Things really haven't changed all that much when it comes to transportation and other energy uses. If we wait till the climate goes all to hell (are we there yet?) it will be too late, because there is a lot of inertia in the climate. This is a situation where the whole of humanity has to act proactively and with wisdom. Based on past history, does anyone think that will happen?

Bob Badour said at October 8, 2005 8:49 PM:

Consuming as much energy as one can afford so as to drive the price as high as possible is the wise and proactive course then. That will hasten the switch to non-fossil fuels.

Sione Vatu said at October 10, 2005 3:45 PM:


Its great to hear you have read those works. Excellent stuff there. They're worth studying closely and rereading carefully. The Austrian school, Objectivism and big "L" Libertarianism are not one and the same thing though. There are differences. When it comes to non initiation of force however, they hold similar views (as I understand matters).

It does sound like since the 1980s you have abandoned the non initiation of force approach and now prefer the big govt. project. In other words, a method based on force, fraud and coercion. Where is virtue in that?

You are asking me to solve a non-problem. Remember at the outset I wrote that the CO2 issue is not a concern for me. There are far more important matters to attend to (like promoting freedom, not socialism USA style). That's the context.

Nevertheless, there are several possibilities in a free market that can lead to reduction of CO2. First, there has to be a demonstrable damage or a proveable threat to individuals and property. All those big ifs I wrote about apply.

Should enough individuals come to the conclusion that CO2 is enough of a problem they can voluntarily act to: develop alternative technologies (which have to be better than the ones they are to replace), use the alternatives, promote the alternatives, alter existing preferences, alter behaviours, refuse to associate or transact with the people causing identified problems, associate and collaborate with those of similar viewpoint who wish to act to solve identified problems, remediate damage to property, halt actions leading to damage to property and so forth. That is how a free market operates. That is what powers progress.

This is a matter of subjective value change by individuals. It happens frequently in human affairs, sometimes with profound results. Remember, people are social creatures (not socialist, mind). They can be powerfully influential. They trade ideas and values as they do chattels. They can't do any of this efficiently in the absence of a free market. In its absence they are forced to act according to, or to compensate for, dictates determined by the regime in power. Their entire outlook can be defined by the regime (which controls media and education).

Contrast the free market with the big govt. approach. What you get there is the usual self-serving political "action" that history demonstrates again and again. What you get is corruption, waste, feather-bedding, largesse, influence pedalling, rorting, cronyism, pork barrelling, wars, prohibitions, crime, utter incompetance, maladministration, malfeasence, misappropriation, evil and so it will go. Virtuous indeed! Waste, destruction of wealth and enslavement. And that is unlikely to be what you dream for.

As a simple example, compare big govt. and private action during the recent disaster at New Orleans. Not only did govt. corruption cause the disaster, it made it far worse by hindering private action (compare FEMA and Walmart) and by persecuting local people (victims). This is by no means a rare situation either.

You cite examples of organisations polluting. They are well known. Note it is the govt. that allows these situations to occur and I certainly agree with you that there is nothing virtuous about how govt. allows it cronies to do as they like. Who are the polluters telling tall tales to precisely? Who is being lobbied exactly? It's their colleagues in govt. So it's not a matter of "get away with it," rather a matter of "allowed to do it."

As you are aware, the one objective valid purpose for govt. is the provision of retributive force in non-emergency situations to protect of property and individual liberty. Currently govt. is so busy interfering in the economy, and holding wars on things, that they are too busy to deal with sorting out property violations of the kinds disclosed. Your govt. does not undertake the one job it is supposed to pursue. Why allow that institution any more authority when it is already failing? The historical precidents of govt. power and how it is used lead to the conclusion that only a free market is to be trusted while govt. must be minimised or even eliminated from human affairs. Certainly it has no place in economic matters whatsoever. There are millions of human deaths to attest to this. "Govt. is crime."

We can readily see that govt. boondoggles are unnecessary to accomplish the solving of problems. By promoting more govt. interference and market distortion (that is, by applying force against individuals) all that is achieved is the further involvment of the very institutions that cause problems in the first instance and that defend the status quo at any cost. Have you ever considered the "external cost" of govt.? Time to start calculating then.

Answer this. How do you know which technologies are going to succeed and which ones fail? You do not. And nor does the govt. Blowing billions of dollars of expropriated wealth on war and make-work is about all that is coming from that source. Leave people to decide what THEY want to do. Leave THEM with THEIR wealth and resources to act as THEY see fit. They will act voluntarily to solve any problems that face them. Some of them will surprise you.



jimcrack said at October 10, 2005 5:01 PM:

Tdean sounds a bit like Howard Dean digesting a bushel of beans. You didn't make the nomination, no cee-gar. Perhaps if he actually had bullets with which to shoot "right wing ideologues" he might actually have a hit. If he had bothered to read any one of a number of national newspapers, weekly periodicals, or quarterlies in political science, he would find that Chinese agriculture IS indeed a shambles. 10 to 20% rural unemployment suggests that the Joads are picking up and moving to Califor-ny-ah, which they are (ie the cities, which have massive unemployment of their own). There are also literally dustbowls to run from (China traditionally has recorded a drought in at least one province per year during 5000 or so years of history) and a debate over whether aquifers drained to ring Beijing with trees against duststorms would better utilized for crops ( nearby Manchuria was opened up to colonization under Mao in hopes of creating Soviet style grain harvests. But it suffers the same soil frailties and mismanagement as Soviet central asia).

The citation of increasing soybean production I will not dispute. Production of many things has increased. But China is not a free-market economy, and as a Scientific American article pointed out (look it up), agriculture is stunted by lack of free market pricing mechanisms. Pick up a Wall Street Journal (not too right wing I hope?) and you'll discover China has a dubious financial system, that cannot adequately price the time-value of money (interest), currency rates, attract public savings, or provide accountable deposit insurance. So those soybeans may very well be rotting in the field Soviet style, eh? (read Roy Medvedev's book on the Kruschev era to find out what a relatively benign socialistic regime did to ruin Soviet agriculture)

If you bothered to read the gist of my writing, I am very solicitous of greenhouse gas worries, energy efficiency, foresight and planning of capital development, and human rights. Not very "far right", is it?

RE Randall: modern coal plants: Good point. A NOVA program on Chinese development and pollution depicted a steel mill that was completely shut down because of air pollution (there was a NYT account of a town that demolished a mountain to allow polluted air to flow out of city limits) It was never mentioned whether it was to be fitted with stack scrubbers or simply scrapped, but it appeared to be representative of the whole. A "modern" coal or steel plant might be equivalent to one designed in the US from 1975 on. A number of accomodations were made particularly to accomodate low sulfur Western coal (which has less heat content than high sulfur eastern coal). They were to be very large scale, have efficient stack scrubbers, high smokestacks (which as New York State now complains,puts Ohio emissions into the jetstream!), and heat scavenging boiler tube setup. Dedicated rail systems were necessary to transport western coal cheaply, making it in fact cheaper than appalachian coal by 1985, and the whole cost of smokestack remediation (costing 10-15% of the outputted energy) acceptable to consumers. China does not appear to have this equivalent. It is likely that a generation of coal plants and mines (the latter literally run with 19th century technology with miner fatalities in the hundreds) will have to be scrapped (just as the US ought to scrap some). If China has any really modern plant prototypes, I'd like to know (the atomic technology, encouraging as it is, is still on the drawing board) And we've been reading a lot about tough chinese pollution standards -- but how recent a development was that?

Tdean said at October 12, 2005 5:31 PM:


Thanks so much for the solicitousness. It certainly sounds like you might qualify for the title of "Compassionate Conservative, anti-Communist". Maybe you can run for office.

All of the problems that you mentioned with regard to the Chinese economy are nothing new, to be sure. So how do you explain the historic growth of the Chinese economy? A thirty year "flash in the pan"?

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