April 09, 2009
Carbon Taxes To Hit Big Coal Electric States Hardest

Some US states aren't keen on taxes to cut carbon dioxide emissions because they rely on cheap coal electric power.

Jaime Haro, AmerenUE’s director of asset management and trading, said his company paid $30 to produce a megawatt of electricity. The coal burned emits roughly a ton of carbon dioxide. If federal legislation effectively prices emissions at $30 a ton — estimates have varied from $20 to $115 — “my costs could double,” Mr. Haro said.

Those costs probably would be passed on to customers.

For now, Missouri ranks among the lowest five states in retail electricity rates — about 6.3 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with a national average of 8.9 cents.

Most competing non-coal sources of electric power are at $100 and higher per megawatt-hour. Coal electric is cheap as long as external costs are ignored.

You can tell where in the United States coal generates most electricity just by looking at a table of by-state electric power costs. Leave aside some northwestern states that get most of their power from cheap hydro. The rest of the low electric price states are big coal burners. Wyoming at 8.18 cents/kwh has the massive Powder River Basic coal deposits and local electric power plants burning that cheap coal. Similarly, North Dakota at 7.48 cents/kwh has big coal deposits and coal electric plants running off of their cheap coal.

This regional distribution of coal reserves and coal electric plants has important ramifications for efforts in the US Congress to cut CO2 emissions. Some states will pay huge increases in electric power costs if carbon emissions get taxed. Houses built less efficiently for low cost electricity will become much more expensive to own. So Senators from these states could potentially block efforts to tax CO2 emissions.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 April 09 11:20 PM  Energy Electric Generators


Comments
Bruce said at April 10, 2009 11:35 AM:

If they'd stick a greenhouse at the end of their smokestacks they'd have cheap coal and no carbon emissions.

Why don't they?

Randall Parker said at April 10, 2009 12:10 PM:

Bruce,

1) The greenhouse building would probably have to be very large given the quantity of CO2 released. Not sure what the surface area would need to be.

2) It is not a 12 month a year solution. Think North Dakota in the winter.

What I wonder: Could the waste heat allow the growing season to start sooner? In March the days are as long as they are in September. But the temperatures are much lower and so plants can't grow. Waste heat from a nuke or coal plant could in theory allow growing seasons in greenhouses to start sooner. But the cost of the green houses might not make it worth it.

th said at April 10, 2009 4:11 PM:

I would have to say that a society that doesn't even get that its cutting its own throat, is one that gets what it deserves.

David Govett said at April 10, 2009 11:25 PM:

Two predictions: The increased fees will hurt the poor disproportionately, and Obama will blame Bush for the increases.

simone said at April 11, 2009 7:30 AM:

Without certainty it is not prudent to impose carbon taxes. Today we have no real facts to support a carbon tax. Conjecture from models we know to be flawed is the basis of foolish policy. If we really want to lower CO2 emissions we should tax breathing.

Randall Parker said at April 11, 2009 9:52 AM:

simone,

We are not certain that we'll get in a car accident, get sick, or have our house burned down. So no need for car, medical, or house insurance?

K said at April 11, 2009 12:40 PM:

Randall: You analogy is mistaken. You know that insurance you purchase will have a certain small cost and work if needed.

The difficulty with AGW or CC is that neither the costs or the returns from the various proposed solutions is known. And many, make that most, are wild guesses.

We know the greenhouse effect is real, we don't know how big it is and what the scaling will be.

We know aerosols and soot have effects; we don't know how much and have no way of making other nations change their emissions. Therefore will reducing our emissions going to be effective? You tell me, I don't know.

We know the sun varies; we don't know how big the effect is or has been, or what the sun will do next.

We know land use and urban heat islands have had effects; we don't know how much they have changed recent measurements. And again we don't control them. And if we did we cannot be sure what would result.

The one thing we do know is the costs of arresting any of these usual suspects will be enormous both economically and socially. So great and unpredictable that I am simply not willing to advocate blank checks.

My objection to Gore and those with him is their certainty. And their refusal to consider anything except one idea and the use of dictatorial means to implement it.

You know my position, or should since I have written for years. On the supply side, if we intend to curtail or end fossil fuel use then go with nukes. Then science and technology can gradually replace nukes with more desirable power sources.

Demand reduction is a good policy. And faster. The best for now would be a carbon tax collected at the mines and refineries and where energy is imported. That will reduce fossil fuel consumption a little, make alternative energies relatively cheaper, and do so without binding us to specific technologies and massive programs that will never be stopped once entrenched.

Nick G said at April 11, 2009 12:56 PM:

Randall, new coal plants are also expensive - it's old (dirty) coal that's cheap.

th said at April 11, 2009 4:50 PM:

"Two predictions: The increased fees will hurt the poor disproportionately, and Obama will blame Bush for the increases." Another prediction, the dollar will collapse as a result of a long laundry list of lefty loon activity in American capitalism, this carbon tax crap is just another step in that process. The US CO2 emissions since 1990 are up about 20%, on average, no different than the countries that signed Kyoto and implemented carbon taxes. The Kyoto signers and carbon taxers accomplished nothing in the way of emissions reduction, but they have established a way for them to collect more taxes on economies that have been driven to permanent stagnation through their own efforts. Warner-Liebermann was defeated, but the momentum of the AGW goons looks to be in the home stretch with the teleprompter-elect, I actually hope they do all the damage they can. The transfer of economic power from west to east is done, the literati parasites in the US will survival by doing exactly what their european bretheren do, taxing everything and anything.

Randall Parker said at April 11, 2009 5:15 PM:

K,

With insurance you do not know whether bad events will happen to you or how bad they'll be if they happen. With global warming I think the case for it is stronger because we think the odds of it happening are pretty high but the uncertainty is in how bad the warming will be.

Nick G,

Yes, regards new and old plants. I just told a reader this yesterday in email in fact. But with the big drop in steel prices and other construction material prices I wonder if this is a cheap time to build a coal plant. Probably. But permitting takes too long to allow a builder to take advantage of the temporary price drop.

Paul F. Dietz said at April 11, 2009 6:43 PM:

My financial adviser just had me sell my utility stocks, due to concerns about what CO2 taxes would do to them.

Engineer-Poet said at April 12, 2009 5:13 AM:

Quoth K:

The one thing we do know is the costs of arresting any of these usual suspects will be enormous both economically and socially. So great and unpredictable that I am simply not willing to advocate blank checks.
The cost of the current regime is enormous already.  We have massive destruction of landscapes including entire mountains, burial of streams under rubble with total loss of their value and production, acid mine drainage destroying things further downstream, health effects on the locals from dust and runoff, mercury pollution, other heavy metals, ash and sulfates in the air, completely inadequate controls over the disposal of ash.... all that without considering the climate, and that's just off the top of my head.  It would require something like oxygen-blown IGCC to get adequate control over coal emissions, after which the incremental cost of CCS would be quite reasonable.

The only reason the costs of the status quo aren't considered unacceptable is because they're part of BAU, with powerful interests benefitting and doing what is necessary to block change (including, through control of the mass media, even the widespread sentiment that change is needed).

My objection to Gore and those with him is their certainty. And their refusal to consider anything except one idea and the use of dictatorial means to implement it.
Hand-waving.  Let's have specifics.  I see utilities ordering a new fleet of nuclear powerplants, which achieves the end of carbon reduction while obviously not being aligned with the historic agenda of the political greens.  I also see the greens starting to come around on the issue.  Somehow I'm missing whatever you see, so elucidate.

simone said at April 12, 2009 8:03 AM:

Randall- Wrong. We have a great deal of certainty on auto and home insurance needs of consumers. Insurance companies are VERY GOOD at pricing the risk. Global warming is not even well understood. The precautionary principle can be equally applied as an argument as why we should do nothing in regards to the this dubious threat. Superficial analogies are the mark of sloppy thinking and bad science.

K said at April 12, 2009 10:47 AM:

E-P: "Hand-waving" itself is useless term with no specifics. I stated my impression of Gore and how the AGW crowd would behave given the power. And I stick to it. Perhaps you advocate blank checks, I don't.

As to the costs being enormous. Irrelevant. Because what they are doesn't matter. What we do about them hence matters. If you want to talk about how to clean up pollution or ending destructive processes then I support that. And you will not find that I have written otherwise. Pollution has been reduced greatly in the US over forty years. And I have no objections to further tightening of enforcement where it is weak and creating new controls where there are loopholes or oversights in the laws.

OTOH if you are speaking of pollution in other countries then I have no interest in that. They will do as they choose. So on that topic address someone else. In fact I prefer you always address someone else. I admire your engineering prowess but detest your tone.

Randall Parker said at April 12, 2009 10:48 AM:

simone,

Wrong. Insurance companies are (usually) good at pricing risks for groups. But they can't tell me whether I will get into an accident.

Is global warming a threat for me?

I think the odds are greater that global warming will cause droughts that'll raise my prices for food than that I'll get in a car accident. I think the odds are greater that global warming will drive up my price of food by flooding farm land with rising oceans than that my dwelling will burn down.

Precautionary principle: I am not willing to let others run a risk with my health until still others are able to prove that the risk is real. What's the risk of particulate pollution causing me an early death? I'm not sure exactly. But I do not recognize a right of others to put me at risk with their coal electric plants.

Expecting a risk to be fully proved before acting on it is imprudent. It is unwise. It'll get you killed in some cases and worsen your life in others. The precautionary principle can be overapplied. But that's true of many useful ideas.

simone said at April 12, 2009 12:51 PM:

Randall-

Insurance companies are very good at pricing risk for accidents. Your choice of "usually" misses the fact that they price tens of millions of cars a year. Your suggestion that global warming posses a greater threat to you than an accident is ridiculous. No model has been empirically validated to date. We have seen no evidence of global warming but experience millions of car accidents a year. Please use reason.

Is global warming a threat to Randall or any body else? No, Is the briefest answer. There is no evidence to suggest that it is a threat to humanity or the planet. I will go a step further and suggest that man made global warming is likely the greatest assault on reason and science humanity has witnessed. We only have models that suggest warming is a concern. Models that do not employ fitting and calibration standards used in almost all other disciplines.

Your health example is specious. What is you health? No one can define health as more than the absence of disease. We are thus left with non-scientific operational definitions.

Risk does not have to be "proved" but it must be characterized. The science has not done anything of the sort. Non of the work that is forecasting meets general standards.


Randall Parker said at April 12, 2009 1:48 PM:

simone,

We know what CO2 does to infrared radiation. Empirically validated model: There's no way to validate a model. We can't run parallel universes with different interventions at faster time rates to see what happens. No computer model can catch all the complexity.

You tell me that global warming is a not a threat to me because no model has been validated. Lots of things kill and sicken people for decades before anyone can explain the exact mechanism in every step for how the harm is done. That doesn't mean that the harm isn't getting done.

Insurance companies can compare the behavior of millions of people. They can come up with averages. So they sell insurance on risks they can calculate. For other risks you can't buy insurance from insurance companies because they know the risks are real but they have no way to calculate how big the risks are.

Sometimes the insurance companies miscalculate risks. They do this with weather. They've lost lots of money in hurricane insurance because they underestimated the risks. So when I say "usually" I am thinking of specific examples of insurance companies getting it wrong on a massive scale. They've made other big mistakes in pricing risks. Some insurance companies have been bankrupted by these mistakes.

The problem with your position on this issue is that we can't afford to wait until 2050 to figure out how accurate the models are. We need to make decisions based on partial information. It is imprudent to do otherwise.

Brett Bellmore said at April 12, 2009 4:08 PM:

We know what CO2 does to infrared radiation: Not enough to produce a troublesome degree of warming, and most of what it's capable of, it already is doing. More CO2 is like hanging a curtain over a window you've already painted over, it's mostly redundant.

Global warming models are based on the theory that a *little* warming due to CO2 will cause evaporation of water, and the water vapor will then function as a much more powerful greenhouse gas to push the temperatures up to dangerous levels. IOW, it's based on the theory that our climate is subject to a very high positive feedback, right on the verge of thermal runaway.

That might be true, but the last ten years don't suggest it is. In fact, the models are the only reason to think it's true.

And I really dislike that precautionary principle stuff; When you're ignorant, you're ignorant. A leap into the dark can drop you over a cliff just as easily as it can save you. We ARE overdue for an ice age, if you weren't aware of it, and we might just be going into a Maunder minimum in sunspots, which would suggest cooling rather than heating.

That CO2 really could be the only thing staving off an ice age.

Engineer-Poet said at April 13, 2009 9:34 AM:

Judging from the temperature records of historical cycles vs. this one, we were doing just fine holding off the onset of glaciation before the Industrial Revolution.

If CO2 is medicine against glaciers, what we have right now is an overdose.  When the therapeutic dose is 300 ppm, 385 is toxic.  The side effects take time to manifest themselves, but we are already seeing them.

Randy Pickett said at April 13, 2009 2:29 PM:

Carbon production is an external cost not currently included in the price of electricity produced through coal burning. We don't know what that cost is. Any tax on carbon should start very low and grow gradually over 10-20 years. The tax should be an incentive without being destructive to growth. This seems like common-sense but it will never happen because of the poisoned political environment.

Borris said at April 13, 2009 2:33 PM:

The main goal of any tax like this should be to punish those nasty Red State ReThuglicans.
How racist of them not to vote for Obama.

Contumacious said at April 13, 2009 2:35 PM:

The entire "carbon tax" scheme is intended to be used like building permits in Chicago. It's simply a way for the Permanent Incumbent Party to fiddle the rules to enrich their clients at the expense of the rest of us.

Dorothy said at April 13, 2009 2:36 PM:

WEIRDLY appropriate: at crunchyroll.com is a new japanese animation offering called Shangri-la(this is a LEGAL fansub site btw - on of the first to team up with Japanese animation studios and offer simulcasting). It is a future world where entire governments and businesses are using carbon credits as money. It you have too much carbon - you are penalized. I thought carbon taxes were fiction until I read this post. I mean - did we really approve them? Time for some Tea.

Tman said at April 13, 2009 2:41 PM:

I don't see how crippling the US economy any further is somehow worth the unproven effect of lowering our CO2 output in regards to lessening the unproven risks of slightly proven AGW. Especially considering neither China nor India, who are both on their way to surpass the US in terms of CO2 output are planning on joining us. Nor should they, in my opinion.

What is proven today is that efforts to improve drinking water availability, or malaria eradication, which both claim more lives ALREADY than the wildest dreams of AGW prophets, will be a much better value in the long term for the world. The less poor people are, the more that they can afford to care about things like enviromental degradation and CO2 output.

Until new nuclear power stations are on the drawing board, this idea that we need to "tax" people in to emitting less CO2 is a fantasy, and dangerous one at that.

JoeBob said at April 13, 2009 2:42 PM:

Ha ha. Silly Bitterclingers. They will get what they deserve.

michael said at April 13, 2009 3:05 PM:

The cool thing about a carbon tax is that we can collect all that new revenue, then after a few years of no climate disaster, declare victory. And think of those votes we can buy with all that revenue year after year after year.

JorgXMcKie said at April 13, 2009 3:16 PM:

The Precautionary Principle: Never, ever do anything until you can *prove* that it is 100% safe in every conceivable way 100% of the time. I sure hope, Randall, that you use this in your everyday life. Oh. Wait. You've already admitted that you use cars, which gives you about a 1/7000 chance of dying in an auto accident this year. Perhaps you should never use a car. But then you might have an accident at home and need transport to an emergency room. Oops, the Precautionary Principle says no. It is *too risky* at something less than 100% safety proven. Ah, well, as someone once said, "Life is 6-to-5 against.

"we can't afford to wait until 2050 to figure out how accurate the models are." Hogwash. At worst the average of the models predicts that in 40 years the average world temperature (isn't that much like the average world telephone number?) will rise about 3 degrees F. We can easily wait to see if that is accurate and still do something. After all, even the Goreacle admits that it will take 100 years for his Precautionary Principle Approved soluion to have an effect. Besides, given the trend since 1999, it looks like we're not getting any increase at all.

Tell me, Randall, exactly how many years without a temperature increase will you need before you admit the average isn't rising? 10 more? 20? 50? Just give me a number, please, so I can test it.

Joe said at April 13, 2009 3:42 PM:

We know what CO2 does to infrared radiation: Not much of anything and this has been proven over and over again going back 125 years. If CO2 did do what it is claimed, we could create perpetual energy machines out of greenhouses.

Let me repeat this: CO2 simply does not do what many global warming theorists claim it does.
Another point: The earth's atmosphere does not act like a greenhouse. The greenhouse analogy isn't just bad, it makes absolutely no sense at all. (Even more hilarious, greenhouses don't work the way many "greenhouse effect" proponents claim.)

dbp said at April 13, 2009 3:46 PM:

"Carbon production is an external cost not currently included in the price of electricity produced through coal burning. We don't know what that cost is."

We don't know what the cost is, in fact we don't know if there even is any cost. It is just as likely that carbon helps the world as it is that it hurts. Here is a thought experiment: Which is worse? An ice age which covers most of Europe and North America in sheets of ice OR A slightly warmer, wetter world with longer growing seasons?

Hmmn...

JR Dogman said at April 13, 2009 4:43 PM:

To all supporters of AGW theory:

Have any of you read Dr. Robert Zubrin's Energy Victory? What do you think of his proposal?

I think he's really on to something. If we did as he suggests, and, simultaneously, rebuilt our energy grid with LOADS of nuclear power plants, we'd have the cheap electricity to turn practically ANYTHING into methanol, which in turn can be made into diesel fuel, jet fuel, and of course fuel to power our cars. As Zubrin explains, existing cars could be easily and inexpensively modified to run on methanol.

If we did the above, we'd make a big dent in reducing carbon emissions (and air and water pollution) in the present, and we could keep on working towards even better solutions for the future. And, of course, we'd hit terror-sponsoring states where it hurts the most -- right in the pocketbook.

If you haven't read Dr. Zubrin's book, I highly recommend it.

J. Newton said at April 13, 2009 4:54 PM:

If they'd stick a greenhouse at the end of their smokestacks they'd have cheap coal and no carbon emissions.

Why don't they?
-------------------------------------------------

CO2 is not the only product of coal combustion. CO and N2O are just a couple, as well as SO2. NO2 and SO2 have been reduced a lot in coal fired power plant stack gases but are still present in EPA acceptable levels. Your greenhouse plants will die quickly at the end of a smokestack, unless you are planning to somehow separate all those noxious gases from the CO2. Most of the waste heat from any type of steam driven power plant is due to thermodynamics and there is little more you can do about it. The waste heat of steam condensation in power plant condensers is one of them, and is the reason large generating plants have to use cooling towers in order to not raise the temp of the river water they are using in the condenser beyond a reasonable level. This is the largest loss of heat in the industry and it goes for coal and nuke, 1000 BTUs per pound of steam, and that's at optimum condenser operation parameters, such as max vacuum attainable and cleanliness of the condenser tubes, and as such is often more than that. Exit gas temperature of most coal fired power plants is around 300 degrees (optimum), and lowering it too much can result in achieving "dew point" with resultant corrosion of electro-static precipitators that take out most of the particulate matter. Precipitators operate most efficiently slightly above 295 degrees. Thus any further reduction has to be at the very end of the cycle.
The world has not stood still the last thirty years or so in the coal fired power plant industry. Much has been done but there has been no CO2 reduction, and frankly I don't know of any process in the mill to do it, or if it is even possible, other than quit burning coal period. I'm not an engineer but I worked as a unit operator in the industry for 30 yrs and was trained to the level of an associate degree in thermal engineering. The plant I retired from has had to achieve markedly lower tolerable limits over the past twenty five years of N2O and SO2 as well as stack opacity, a way of measuring pariculate emissions.

J. Newton said at April 13, 2009 5:08 PM:

To all supporters of AGW theory:

Have any of you read Dr. Robert Zubrin's Energy Victory? What do you think of his proposal?

I think he's really on to something. If we did as he suggests, and, simultaneously, rebuilt our energy grid with LOADS of nuclear power plants, we'd have the cheap electricity to turn practically ANYTHING into methanol, which in turn can be made into diesel fuel, jet fuel, and of course fuel to power our cars. As Zubrin explains, existing cars could be easily and inexpensively modified to run on methanol.
---------------------------------------------------
Using electricity to make fuels is a poor conversion of energy, unless there is no other way to do it. It takes approx. 10,000 btus to produce a KW, nuclear, coal, buffalo chips or whatever, and this KW gives you in turn 3400 BTUs of process heat. Nuke power is cheap(er), but still not cheap due to the nature of the beast so to speak. The ideal for using nuke power to make other fuels would be to use the steam produced for process heat, instead of making electricity for fuel conversion, or do both at the same time, with the electricity going on the grid and some steam used for process heat, known as co-generation. This hasn't been done yet in the nuke industry as far as I know but I know of a coal fired power plant in my area that furnishes some process steam for a totally unrelated industry nearby. 1000 degree superheated steam, and that's a lot of heat. It's a hell of an idea in my book.

JR Dogman said at April 13, 2009 6:22 PM:

J. Newton,

So we can use nuclear energy to make methanol -- only indirectly. I agree, it sounds like a hell of an idea.

Anyhow, have you read Energy Victory? Again, if you haven't, I really urge you to check it out.

Observer said at April 13, 2009 7:05 PM:

If global warming does occur, it will actually save lives as compared to the status quo.

It is most likely that any global warming is due to solar cycles, rather than human activities.

The real purpose behind most of the global warming legislation is to force people to change their lifestyles to comport with what some people feel is more virtuous (e.g. urban, small footprint, low personal freedom).

JEM said at April 13, 2009 8:01 PM:

JorgXMcKie - and that 3degF number is based on worst-case assumption piled atop worst-case assumption as input to a bunch of computer models that haven't been right about anything in twenty years.

Scott Jacobs said at April 13, 2009 11:01 PM:

R-P said: "Wrong. Insurance companies are (usually) good at pricing risks for groups. But they can't tell me whether I will get into an accident.

Is global warming a threat for me?

I think the odds are greater that global warming will cause droughts that will raise my prices for food than that I'll get in a car accident. I think the odds are greater that global warming will drive up my price of food by flooding farm land with rising oceans than that my dwelling will burn down."

That's the problem, RP... We have statistics based on data for flood, fire, and auto accidents. While they can not predict for an individual, they can predict your chances fairly well. They are called actuarial tables, and they are used for a reason - they work.

The problem with your belief that you're more likely to suffer the effects of global warming/climate change/whatever-they-call-it-next is that there is no statistical data to back it up. The Green movement has yet to develop a model that can accurately predict the weather in 2006 using data collected for the decades prior. Their models can not accurately map things that have HAPPENED, why would you even begin to assume they might be right NOW?

What you fail to accept is that global temp isn't rising, and has not been for years. It has, for several years, been dropping. Carbon is a TRACE element. It makes up less than 1% of the gas we inhale, and it always has. our net effect on carbon in akin to me pissing into the ocean. yes there has been an increase, but it so small an increase as to not even be worth mentioning.

A carbon tax (or as it should be called, a "production tax") WILL increase the cost of your food. It is a certainty. There is no avoiding it. It will also increase your cost to go get the food, cook the food, and watch TV after consuming the food. The tax will leave NO part of your life un-affected.

So, you have on one hand what you could charitably call a "guess" verse a certainty.

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid the guess does not win.

Davidcobb said at April 14, 2009 5:40 AM:

" greenhouses at the end of smokestacks"
It's already being done. Check out "greenfuel.com" growing algae in power plant exhaust streams. They have a pilot plant on a natural gas fired plant in Arizona.

Randall Parker said at April 14, 2009 7:28 AM:

Scott Jacobs,

My guess is based on the belief that the climate scientists know more than the political commentators.

Are there sources of error in their models? Sure, big ones. But I think it imprudent to so hope that they are wrong that we do nothing.

I happen to oppose carbon taxes and favor other measures to reduce CO2 emissions btw. I would like to ban new coal electric power plants and build nukes instead. The health benefits from reduced particulate emissions alone make the migration worth doing.

BTW, Speaking as someone on the political right it disgusts me that George W. Bush let the coal electric generators so off the hook and delayed tightening of coal electric plant emissions regulations.

Scott Jacobs said at April 14, 2009 8:50 AM:

The problem with thinking the Climate Scientists know more is that they have yet to actually prove out that hope. The source of errors for the models is the belief that it's CO that most affects the system, when it isn't.

And a shame you won't ever see a new nuke plant built, much like the environmentalists fight wind farms and large solar farms...

J. Newton said at April 14, 2009 8:52 AM:

" greenhouses at the end of smokestacks"
It's already being done. Check out "greenfuel.com" growing algae in power plant exhaust streams. They have a pilot plant on a natural gas fired plant in Arizona.
---------------------------------------------
I see that since I retired I haven't been keeping up with new technology. So there is a way to reduce CO2 in stack gases with a usable byproduct as well. I would like to read the details of how these bioreactors work and what sort of energy other than stack gas heat is required. Seems to me though you are capturing CO2 here, and releasing it somewhere else when the biofuel produced is burned as motor fuel, effectively just moving the point of release.

Randall Parker said at April 14, 2009 8:58 AM:

Scott Jacobs,

In Santa Barbara friends tell me it is very hard to get approval to put PV on roofs of houses. I know someone who is trying for that approval right now. Solar power in environmental Santa Barbara where the Priuses swarm is hard to get approved by zoning boards!

Nukes: It'll be interesting to see what happens with nuke construction plant applications under Obama.

Engineer-Poet said at April 14, 2009 1:47 PM:

If you think CO2 is an irrelevant trace gas, would you care to explain the climate of Venus?  Heck, how about the 30°C difference between Earth's average temperature and what a blackbody would be at Earth's distance?  It sure isn't due to water; even the driest places on earth are a lot warmer than a blackbody would be.

I'm wondering exactly which climate-model predictions have been off... in the pessmistic direction?  For instance, despite the current trend in global temperatures, polar temperatures are still climbing and ice loss from Antarctica is a century ahead of projections.  The Arctic ocean may become largely ice-free in the summer very soon, and loss from glaciers in both Antarctica and Greenland will raise sea levels.

The rhetoric of the people posting here shows that they're getting their talking points from political operatives.  "Goracle" (why's he relevant, anyway; how many papers has he published in peer-reviewed journals?).  "The Green movement has yet to develop a model" (what papers list "G. Movement" as a co-author, and how often are they referenced?).  Would any of these Greens include Svante Arrhenius?  He was the first to calculate the effect of increasing CO2, back in the 19th century.

All this talk is just tribal meme reinforcement, marking the distinction between the camps of "us" and "them".  It's quite irrational, as it throws out facts if they contradict the tribal mythos (which these same posters jeer when "they" do it).  RP is talking sense to you; you should listen.

GL said at July 1, 2009 8:00 PM:

Some would say that clean up of the polluting industries so prevalent in the 70's has contributed to global warming in that all the particulates formerly floating around in the atmosphere deflected the sun's rays. Personally I think it's a great money grab by the illuminati and a bad joke on the great unwashed.

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