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US Carbon Emissions Hit 20-Year Low

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the burn-some-tires-to-celebrate dept.

Earth 245

Freddybear writes "A recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Agency says that U.S. carbon emissions are the lowest they have been in 20 years, and attributes the decline to the increasing use of cheap natural gas obtained from fracking wells. Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said the shift away from coal is reason for 'cautious optimism' about potential ways to deal with climate change. He said it demonstrates that 'ultimately people follow their wallets' on global warming. 'There's a very clear lesson here. What it shows is that if you make a cleaner energy source cheaper, you will displace dirtier sources,' said Roger Pielke Jr., a climate expert at the University of Colorado."

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OR (1, Insightful)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038203)

It could also means that CO2 release is correlated to the general state of the economy which as of currently is in the shitter.

Re:OR (4, Informative)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038313)

Read the article. It talks about that quite a bit.

While conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline, the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said.

Re:OR (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038405)

Except if you'd looked at the graph in TFA, you'd see that CO2 emissions by the US were pretty level for a good bit of the past decade, and appear to have started trending downward prior to the 2008 economic crash.

I'm sure the state of the economy has a role in this, but it's certainly not the whole story.

Additionally, the summary quote from Pielke may be a bit misleading when taken in isolation. In the article he also states that "Natural gas is not a long-term solution to the CO2 problem". I only mention this because most people won't bother to read the article.

Re:OR (1, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038565)

Right. Because after a while the cheapest gas will be gone and we'll probably be shifting back to coal.

Re:OR (5, Insightful)

evilcoop (65814) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038851)

Except that the reason it is cheap is because of shale gas. Of which there is at least a 100 year supply. It is just not going to run out for decades, even with massive increases in usage.

Re:OR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41039161)

Keep believing that. Keep believing. I think reality will be a little different.

I would not say more than 10 year supply, before revamping these figures. Reality never matches up with predictions about guesstimated resources.

Re:OR (2)

evilcoop (65814) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039275)

I think you don't want to believe. The reality is that unless the anti-fracking lobby limits it's production, natural gas from shale deposits will be very abundant for a very long time. Not only that, shale oil deposits are massive as well. Likely big enough to push Peak Oil out a few decades in North America.

Shale of the century
The “golden age of gas” could be cleaner than greens think
http://www.economist.com/node/21556242

Re:OR (0)

eugene ts wong (231154) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039617)

The anti-fracking lobby doesn't factor into this discussion.

The idea is that a limitless supply and low prices encourage us to use more. People could increase their consumption through more powerful engines, joy rides, and automated vehicles.

With automated vehicles, you could send you car around the block for 10 minutes, while you run an errand. If the fuel consumption is cheap enough, then you'll avoid parking fees, and save time on looking for parking.

Think about rich people. Do rich people who have chauffeurs look for parking? No. It's the chauffeurs, who look for it.

The Long Game (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038901)

Because after a while the cheapest gas will be gone and we'll probably be shifting back to coal.

I'm pretty sure in 200 years or so, either solar will be practical to use en-masse or nuclear will be simple and widespread (or a combination of both).

Re:The Long Game (3, Interesting)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039649)

You do understand that they mine the cheapest, easiest to get at gas first, just like any other resource. The cost of production goes up steadily until it crosses the cost of something else. Then production slows or stops, always long before the resource is fully depleted.

Re:OR (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039537)

Great Point Energy.
ciris energy.

Cheaper AND CLEANer to convert coal to methane, then to burn coal directly (low efficiencies and you still need to recover the pollutants).

Re:OR (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038461)

It could also means that CO2 release is correlated to the general state of the economy which as of currently is in the shitter.

No, that's not what it means at all.

Re:OR (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038475)

Those who have drank the koolaid ( and unfortunately make the rules ) will never see the truth in that statement.

Re:OR (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038695)

Of course not. If you admit the truth, it makes it harder to get frickin fracking permits. There's money in selling natural gas, and not much money in simply admitting the economy is shit.

Re:OR (2, Interesting)

camperslo (704715) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038551)

The article and title here are very misleading since they actually refer only to power production, not overall CO2...

While gas has advantages over coal, there are serious issues with fracking.

âoeThe oil and gas industry is a significant source of VOCs, which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog),â said the EPA in announcing new rules for drilling issued this April. The EPA said methaneâ"what natural gas is made ofâ"is a highly potent greenhouse gas. The agency blames oil and gas production and processing for âoenearly 40% of all U.S. methane emissions.â

http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2012/08/07/frackings-link-to-smog-worries-some-texas-cities/ [npr.org]

http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2012/07/30/in-northeast-pennsylvania-methane-migration-means-flammable-puddles-and-30-foot-geysers/ [npr.org]

As with what's happening with corporate "free speech", money/stock may be an influence elsewhere. The study showing that it was toxic waste fluid injection wells causing contamination, not fracking itself, came from someone who received over 1.5 million in salary/stock (and didn't disclose that either).
Even stranger, he was a senior official at the USGS, which instead of showing their own studies on fracking related quakes, linked to a similar outside study. There are many brilliant people at the USGS that don't deserve reputations being soiled by a key player.

http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2012/07/23/fracking-company-paid-texas-professor-behind-water-contamination-study/ [npr.org]

BS (1, Troll)

boligmic (188232) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038785)

Fracking is 100% safe and effective. Been that way for 70 years.

Stop with the FUD, frack more.

Fake numbers (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038223)

Only a socialist planned economy on a global scale can deal with the environmental pollution crisis. Workers to power! Expropriate the bourgeoisie! Dogfart!

Re:Fake numbers (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038781)

Apparently Kenya [nation.co.ke] is on a course for carbon-free electricity, predominately geothermal. Basically because it's cheapest and more reliable even than hydroelectric.

Re:Fake numbers (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039547)

Yes, that has certainly done a great job in China, Russia, Poland, etc.

It also means... (0)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038247)

... that the economy is still in the shitter.

--
BMO

Re:It also means... (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038487)

... that the economy is still in the shitter.

No, not at all.

If you look at the article (it's not that long, won't take that long), they discuss whether the level of economic activity has changed because of the state of the economy. It makes it very clear that this has nothing to do with the state of the economy being in slow-growth.

And it's not the state of the economy is bad for everyone, you know? Luxury cars, yachts, diamonds, high-end houses and condos aren't doing all that badly, and in some cases are doing very very well.

Re:It also means... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038529)

We elected a socialist to lead our country. Wasn't this clear to any of you at the time?
What has been made clear recently, is that this same social democrat spinoffs are comprised mostley of racists, and if you happen to be white, you need not apply for the next government led "recovery".
I don't know if it's true that people get the government they deserve, but they will always have the government they put up with.

Re:It also means... (1, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038601)

Story has nothing to do with Democrats vs. Republicans except to dumbasses like you determined to find a dark cloud in every silver lining.

Re:It also means... (0)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038649)

We elected a socialist to lead our country

Are you really this stupid?

--
BMO

Re:It also means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038715)

Yes he is, and if you look at relative TV ratings, a lot of people in the US are.

Re:It also means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41039543)

He might be, but than again if your are going to judge him by one moron that voted for obama and another that pays attention to tv ratings to tell him how to think, then you should rethink who is really that stupid. Maybe we should all hamg around this thread and wait for Joe Biden to weigh in.

Re:It also means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038919)

That is open to debate.
Which word in the sentence you quoted do you contest?
In reply to the other numbskull, I never said anything about D or R. Which happens to accentuate the fact that the next election will be decide by independant voters who won't be fooled now that the true nature of this racist socialist foreigner has been revealed. Both You republican and democrats can earfuck each other right up to the election. The rest of america is going to bamish this fraud forever because they realoze your idealistic bullshit does not pay the bills, unless you work for the government, which sounds probable in your case. YOU WON'T BE PUTTING ME IN CHAINS - SERIOUSLY THE OWNLY RESON YOU HAVE BIDEN AROUND IS BECUASE BUSH IS RETIRED.

Re:It also means... (0, Troll)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038983)

the true nature of this racist socialist foreigner has been revealed

Being dumbass and a birther is no way to go through life, son.

--
BMO

Re:It also means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41039169)

In contrast, coasting out of your life on eking out medicare and social security on the backs of your grandchildren is no better way to end your life. Your generation actually saw the effects of the last world depression and the wars that ensued. The only lesson you learned from it was to do a money/power grab from the very people you supposedly liberated. That gravy train has finally pulled into the station, and your are still aboard.

Don't mistake my disdain of one jackass to be an endorsement of the other. The U.S. debt has now reached mathematical levels that cannot be resolved - by either party.

There is a reason why the U.S. government bailed out GM at the expense of shareholders and taxpayers.

There is a reason why the banks stole all your shit and left you holding the bag with the mortgage crises.

There is a reason why gold is at a stupidly obscene level, (while at the same time not being carried around in the pockets of the common worker).
Merkel knows it.
Greece knows it.
Everyone knows it.
You know it.
And your cowardly response is to continue to support the destruction of America so you can die in peace without having to lift your fat stubby finger for the last 20 years.
Wealth and power have been moved out of this country and into the pockets of a few thousand people because people like you were happy to sacrifice your kids future for a few scraps from the table.
Congratulations, you fat fucking bastard. Your kids are going to bury you in the woods, and Obama won't be there to help or care.

Just Great! (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038293)

Now the fuel industry in the US will see this as a challenge to get back to the top of CO2 emissions by the end of the year. :S
Should have kept quiet about this to help save the planet. :P

People follow their wallets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038301)

Oh, yes. I see.

Now, the average people have the foresight of a cabbage.
And about half of them less than that... :-(

It just moved (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038317)

About 1/3 of carbon emissions comes from manufacturing, and most manufacturing is now done in asia.

Re:It just moved (1)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038431)

About 1/3 of carbon emissions comes from manufacturing, and most manufacturing is now done in asia.

And you don't think the Asians will seize upon the opportunity save money by adopting fracking techniques themselves? The west may be ahead of the curve with regard to petrochemical energy production but I really don't see any nation leaving money on the table.

Re:It just moved (2, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038961)

Nah, they build Three Gorges and such. The US is about where London was when everything was covered in soot from coal stoves everywhere, while China is creating work projects like the US only did for a short period, and have been bashed ever since by "capitalists", though the results of those projects still stand and provide failure. Our modern bailout was billions for billionaires. The New Deal was millions for the unemployed (leaving behind thousands of completed projects still in use today). Apparently the conservatives prefer the former.

Re:It just moved (1)

Pranadevil2k (687232) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039001)

Heard a story about Chinese attempts to begin fracking recently. The government in China is being uncharacteristically cautious due to environmental concerns. At least, that's what they are saying. I think they just don't want to have to pay us to do it for them.

Re:It just moved (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039505)

China has a butt load of shale gas and in rapidly acquiring the technology to exploit it.

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

not exactly a new insight (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038325)

"There's a very clear lesson here. What it shows is that if you make a cleaner energy source cheaper, you will displace dirtier sources"

Sure, that's what everyone's been saying. The disagreement is over how to get there. Should we offer insurance guarantees for nuclear power plants? Should we mandate feed-in tariffs for household solar? Should we loosen restrictions on fracking? Should we increase science funding for alternative energy R&D? Should we institute a carbon tax?

Re:not exactly a new insight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038495)

It is what people are saying, but the difference with your points and others is the amount of government involvement. The lowering of natural gas pricing happened because of self interest and technological advancement. I read that the government did send some money to help build the first pipe, but if the tech doesn't work, then the market won't adopt it (e.g. Solyndra).

Re:not exactly a new insight (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038663)

The market doesn't really care about lowering pollution, though, since pollution is an unpriced negative externality. Sometimes it'll favor more-polluting energy sources, and other times less-polluting energy sources, due to completely unrelated factors. So if you're waiting for the market to lower pollution without pollution actually being priced, you're just hoping for luck. Sometimes it does come along; the current cheapness of natural gas vis-a-vis oil is one of those instances. Other times it doesn't; the cheapness of coal is one of the other kinds of instances.

Re:not exactly a new insight (2)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038747)

I wish I had mod points. This is one of the simplest explanations I've seen on the reality of this matter.

There are also those who will say that "an unpriced negative externality" is of no value whatsoever, since the only value that anything has is what the market assigns it. I don't happen to agree with that assessment, but I'm sure that many would salute if you ran it up the flagpole, especially if they're making money hand-over-fist making money that way.

Pollution is easily priced (1, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038807)

The market doesn't really care about lowering pollution, though, since pollution is an unpriced negative externality.

It's quite well priced. Companies know there are legal risks, and they also want good relations with the communities they are in. They know the costs of cleanup of various materials, there's a ton of comparative data now.

It's a fallacy to claim that every company totally ignores pollution, many companies try to be responsible in this regard. You have to be or you generate a lot of bad press.

Re:Pollution is easily priced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41039083)

I guess it's not completely unpriced, but it's also not priced at the level of the total harm done. As for CO2 pollution, that is completely unpriced because it makes no difference locally.

Re:not exactly a new insight (3, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038911)

"There's a very clear lesson here. What it shows is that if you make a cleaner energy source cheaper, you will displace dirtier sources"

Sure, that's what everyone's been saying. The disagreement is over how to get there. Should we offer insurance guarantees for nuclear power plants? Should we mandate feed-in tariffs for household solar? Should we loosen restrictions on fracking? Should we increase science funding for alternative energy R&D? Should we institute a carbon tax?

So far, the strategy has been to cause all energy costs except those from "green" energy sources to, as Obama is famously quoted as saying; "necessarily skyrocket".

That's where I have a problem. Making "green" energy cheaper and more practical is a win and something I'd applaud, trying to force it by instead making everything else too expensive is stupid and hurts people, especially the poor, and the economy in general.

Strat

Re:not exactly a new insight (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039189)

Well put.  And the answer is, "yes". :-)

Re:not exactly a new insight (3, Insightful)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039443)

Yes to all! But for the fracking, heavy monitoring would be good, too. The point being that gas is bad, fracking dirty, but all in all a much better choice than coal.

But nuclear plants? Yes: it is the only carbon-free large-scale dense energy producing plant you can deploy anywhere. Feed-in tariffs for solar? Yes, you want as much solar as you can, because that forces the upgrading of the grid, and improves resilience. It is clean, too. Science funding? How can there be a debate. Is there any case of science funding which is a bad idea?

I don't understand how there is a disagreement: all of theses are possible, they don't contradict each other, and could be done simultaneously.

What.....and no government mandate (0, Troll)

bricko (1052210) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038327)

Now, this ruins the whole leftist meme.....no government involvement....this cant be happening, waa, waa, waa. Mayor Bloomberg will be quite unhappy. And look at the carbon trading disaster hitting EU and its silliness. Skyrocketing prices in a marker saturated with energy....heh. Just now starting to frak in parts of EU. Finding massive amounts.....oops. Imagine market at work....

Re:What.....and no government mandate (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038763)

Now, this ruins the whole leftist meme.....no government involvement....this cant be happening, waa, waa, waa. Mayor Bloomberg will be quite unhappy.

And look at the carbon trading disaster hitting EU and its silliness. Skyrocketing prices in a marker saturated with energy....heh. Just now starting to frak in parts of EU. Finding massive amounts.....oops. Imagine market at work....

I was about to post a comment about how this would get turned into a free market circle jerk, but I was beaten to the punch with this inarticulate drivel.

Well, I guess we just need to wait for roman_mir to come forth and spew his garbage about the Free Market Deities.

Re:What.....and no government mandate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41039025)

Am I the only one who cringes every time he sees a post with more ellipses than any other punctuation?

natural gas doesn't make CO2? (0)

thegreatemu (1457577) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038331)

I suppose I could RTFA, but since when does burning natural gas produce less CO2 than gasoline? It's still a hydrocarbon. CxHy+O2->H2O+CO2...

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038355)

It produces around 30-40% less CO2 than coal for the same power output. Coal is particularly bad, both in terms of CO2 production, and other kinds of pollution (though with currently mandated scrubbers it's not as bad a contributor to things like acid rain as it once was).

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038553)

Natural gas also supposedly complements solar and wind better than coal because gas plants are cheap to build (so the amortized cost of letting them sit idle when cleaner sources are available) is less, and gas plants can adjust their output more quickly than coal (good since solar and wind are variable).

I have never heard it explained why gas plants are cheaper to build and more responsive than coal plants, so I'm curious if anybody knows.

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (2)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038719)

And the core of a gas plant is a gas turbine. The US has thousands of mothballed jet engines sitting in the Mojave dessert that can be inexpensively repurposed into gas generators.

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038881)

Are there any existing programs to do that? I know they use the same principle of operation, but I would be surprised if they were easy drop-in replacements.

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (1)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038945)

No, natural gas turbines tend to be far more gigantic than used in aviation do a google image search for Siemens gas turbines

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (3, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039551)

The power generation plants use purpose built gas turbines designed specifically for electrical generation with methane fuel. they're large, heavy, and designed for longer duty than aircraft engines.

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038793)

Basically the same reason gasoline engines are far more efficient than coal-powered steam plants. Coal plants require more heat, for longer, to get sufficient burn, and require more overall metal cost to build. Plus the ramp-up time is hours, whereas the ramp up time of nat gas is very similar to turning on your car, excepting the huge generators would need maybe 10-15 minutes of ramp up time to get the oil flowing before you turn them full bore.

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038999)

it actually really simple. Coal have many impurities to must be burn off to be used as fuel. It is dirty and clean coal is vaporware in the energy industry. I wonder how much lobbyist paid Obama to use that term. Natural gas contains little to no impurities and can be more easily separated than coal.

I think the cheaper to build part is because they do not have to deal with waste products from a coal plant. The byproduct of coal plant is piled up and then used to make roads; however, coal plant produces too much of it. It backs up and it and it may break causing a black flood.

Here is an incident when the waste dam breaks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Creek_Flood
There is another incident that it flooded a few years ago because the economy is down demand dropped for this dirty byproduct

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039361)

gas plants can adjust their output more quickly than coal (good since solar and wind are variable).

However, a smart grid can make demand rise and fall in sync with solar and wind generation. This negates one advantage of gas plants over coal and nuclear.

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (4, Interesting)

TurtleBay (1942166) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038555)

A big part of this is the advantage of modern natural gas power plants is the combined-cycle nature of their operation vs. the single cycle of coal plants. In a coal plant, burning coal heats water which turns to steam which drives a turbine that is connected to the generator. In a combined cycle gas plant, instead of just burning the gas for heat, they use the gas to power a turbine similar to one that you would find in a military jet engine. The turbine produces mechanical energy on its output shaft which drives a generator directly in addition to the hot output gas is also used to power a heat exchangers which boil water and makes more electricity in using the traditional method.

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038981)

'Cause clean coal is dirtier than burning just about anything else on the planet.

Re:natural gas doesn't make CO2? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039589)

for natural gas, it is 4 H per carbon.

For oil based, it is a little less than 2H per carbon (incomplete burning).
for coal, it is a little over 1 H per carbon due to about half burning.

Far more efficient to convert coal => methane then burn that. Interestingly, the engines and boilers for methane work well for hydrogen.

Just from burning coal? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038341)

Note how the graph says "Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere in the U.S. from burning coal has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years".
Is the data truly valid for *ALL* emissions, or as the graph suggests, just the ones from burning coal?

Just the type of pollutants have changed! (2, Insightful)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038351)

Now instead of burning coal we are using shitty methods to create natural gas that will pollute our waters.

Re:Just the type of pollutants have changed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038857)

Not really. The water is pumped back deep underground into disposal wells. The only problem with that is when it's pumped into a fault line.

Re:Just the type of pollutants have changed! (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039481)

Oh poppycock. Fracking is an old (over 100 years) well-proven technology. If it weren't any good we would have known it 50 years ago.

Instead of AP article, the actual article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038367)

From the U.S. Energy Information Agency ... http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=7350 [eia.gov]

Kyoto Protocol (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038385)

So, this means the US almost hit the targets of the Kyoto Protocol. Interesting.

Re:Kyoto Protocol (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038477)

It's interesting to me in the sense that so much hot air was blown about Kyoto, and it turns out to be pointless. This was one thing the GOP got right. Kyoto was never about saving the Earth. It was about holding the US back so the rest of the world could catch up economicly. This is why I'm a lousy partisan. If I spend enough time around Democrats or Republicans, I'm bound to piss them off one way or another, because I don't have a vested interest in following the party line of either party.

Re:Kyoto Protocol (4, Insightful)

jayveekay (735967) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038963)

Kyoto was never about saving the Earth. It was about holding the US back so the rest of the world could catch up economicly.

You're half right. Kyoto was never about saving the Earth. Kyoto was about politicians pretending to care about saving the earth to improve their reelection chances by making promises that would be delivered far enough in the future that those making the promises could not be held accountable.

Why not fix the market failure? (3, Insightful)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038399)

What it shows is that if you make a cleaner energy source cheaper, you will displace dirtier sources

Or you could simply fix the original market failure [wikipedia.org] by adding the cost of emissions (a negative externality [wikipedia.org] ) into the price of energy. To prevent this from burdening the poor, return an equal share of the revenue to everyone.

Re:Why not fix the market failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038787)

return an equal share of the revenue to everyone.

... after it's passed through several layers of bureaucracy.

Why not just put the money where you want it to go in the first place by subsidizing clean energy programs?

Re:Why not fix the market failure? (3, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038955)

Why not just put the money where you want it to go in the first place by subsidizing clean energy programs?

Because that's not where you want it to go. Especially after passing through several layers of bureaucracy.

Imaginary Numbers (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038879)

Or you could simply fix the original market failure by adding the cost of emissions (a negative externality) into the price of energy.

It's bizarre to claim you can "add the cost of emissions" to a product. How would you honestly come by such a figure, when there are myriad sources that can cause health issues (including people who smoke!)?

Would you equally burden supposed "green" sources of energy with the same costs, from the production of pollution in China when producing components?

The better and more direct approach is to limit emissions at a source rather than playing a wild guessing game that in the end amounts to "we get to charge you whatever the hell we like because we don't like you",

But we already heavily regulate power plant emissions. Further controls are just not going to give us much benefit, and skyrocket the cost of energy for everyone - hurting the poor the most since the need for shelter comes almost before even food...

Re:Imaginary Numbers (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039029)

How would you honestly come by such a figure, when there are myriad sources that can cause health issues (including people who smoke!)?

Well, we're not talking about any pollutant here, just greenhouse gases, and mostly CO2 when we're talking about energy.

I agree that it's not straightforward to establish a cost figure. So I guess one way to do it is set a goal of total emissions, run a few models to establish a tax amount that'd get you close according to those models and then run it in the real world and adjust in both directions appropriately. I guess you'd ease society into it by lowballing the tax and gradually increasing it until it you get to your intended goal.

I wouldn't want immediately toxic emissions to be handled in the same way because I don't want an individual plant to emit those at will and only subject to financial limits. But CO2 seems more like a finite resource than a toxic emissions.

CO2 the only emission that does not matter (1, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039341)

But CO2 seems more like a finite resource than a toxic emissions.

Why? CO2 is the ONLY emission that the biosphere of the entire planet is built around consuming.

CO2 is not pollution, in any sense of the word.

Rather than chasing after black unicorns based on the uncertain idea that possibly the earth MIGHT warm enough to cause any issues at all, we should address real pollution that effects real people living now.

That is the biggest crime in my book, people are focused on CO2 so much they are missing real pollution much closer at hand.

Re:Imaginary Numbers (4, Insightful)

buybuydandavis (644487) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039031)

Or you could simply fix the original market failure by adding the cost of emissions (a negative externality) into the price of energy.

It's bizarre to claim you can "add the cost of emissions" to a product. How would you honestly come by such a figure, when there are myriad sources that can cause health issues (including people who smoke!)?

The fact that you can't price perfectly (particularly since there is no market here) doesn't mean you can't price at all. Right now, we price CO2 emissions at 0. For those who agree on the basic premise that CO2 emissions are a problem, 0 is obviously too low a price.

If you agree that CO2 is a problem, pricing CO2 emissions is the right answer.

Then what about charging people to breathe? (-1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039301)

Right now, we price CO2 emissions at 0.

Oh, I thought you meant POLLUTION. As in something that actually harms people.

Right now we have NO proof, and in fact some evidence that increased CO2 does nothing to harm anyone. At worst it MAY raise global temperatures somewhat, making more land arable...

I can't see charging power plants for emitting CO2 if we aren't also charging people who are exhaling the same thing.

Re:Why not fix the market failure? (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039611)

That's not a market failure, that's the moral hazard provided by the government.

Moral hazard is the various subsidies, for example the government built roads, which are paid for with taxes, inflation and borrowing, but which are not productive, instead they are the moral hazard that causes huge suburban sprawl and prevents viable private sector solutions to the mass transit question.

What matters is *planetary* carbon emissions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038433)

The US getting better is commendable, however what matters from a "not turning the planet into another Venus" perspective is *planetary* carbon emissions. It's not like CO2 stays put over the country that emitted it. And global emissions are still on the rise due to the growing economies in China, Latin American, India, and elsewhere. All this press release is is a pat on the back.

We need nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and we need them yesterday.

Re:What matters is *planetary* carbon emissions (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038825)

They're thinking about this in some unlikely places. Like Rwanda [coastweek.com]

Ah, Penn State (-1, Troll)

qbitslayer (2567421) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038463)

The child molesting institution and home to global warming alarmist and liar, Michael Mann.

Re:Ah, Penn State (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038537)

It that isn't a trolling comment I don't know what is. Trying to tie Mann to a scandal in the football program. On top of that Mann has never been shown to be a liar. If his studies lead him to be alarmed about the potential for global warming to devastate our civilization shouldn't he as a leading scientist in the field voice his concerns?

Power generation still a big problem (3, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038511)

We are running on overbuilt capacity from the 1960s. After that it became very, very expensive to build a large power plant - with most of the new costs being public protests and public comment sessions that turned into more and more evironmental impact studies. Often the result was the project was abandoned.

In Arizona and Illinois (both places I have lived) the solution was simple: build "peaker" plants that run on natural gas and build them up over time from 200MW to more like 1000MW over time. This still results in a lot of protest activity but governing bodies are far more likely to ignore protests when the plant has been safely and cleanly operating for five years or so when it comes time to expand.

The problem is that this is just a delaying tactic that will not solve the problem in the long run. Most parts of the country could use another 2000MW of capacity right now. Certainly if the economy recovers there will be considerable need for more and more electric power which today simply isn't available.

It is just barely possible today to build a data center that is independent of the grid but the costs for the battery storage are huge. Solar PV generation is constantly being touted as a solution, but the only way it is a real solution would be to have it on a lot of homes and other buildings - a lot meaning probably over 50% of them. Unfortunately, this doesn't address the grid problems at 5-9 PM when everyone gets home, turns down the air conditioner temperature and turns on the microwave and the washing machine. To fix that we are going to need capacity that doesn't depend on the sun and today's grid-tied PV systems do not address that at all.

One way out of the coming capacity crisis would be to have a big switch at the power company office: Day (offices) and Night (homes). This is literally what we might be facing soon. The problem is that we could easily have this kind of capacity problem in five years. It takes five years to build a new coal plant without any public opposition - and there would be plenty no matter where it was going to be built. It takes more like ten years to build a nuclear plant and we almost certainly do not have ten years before really running into a big capacity problem. We also need maybe 20-30 new plants coming on line in five years and we haven't even started building them.

The power companies really don't care. They will not be the enemy when you find your refrigerator doesn't run during the day and there is a new box that shuts off your house power whenever the capacity is needed. You can bet their PR departments and outside agencies will be working overtime to make sure someone else gets the blame.

But hey, if we don't build any new plants you can bet everyone will be shouting about how our CO2 emissions are down.

Re:Power generation still a big problem (4, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039037)

The solution is distributed solar. Solar pays back in under 5 years now with a lifetime of 20+. The only problem with solar is that the energy companies (almost all privatized now) see solar as a threat, so they continue to push the "it just doesn't work" press releases. Despite the fact they are all lies, people still believe, so long as it lines up with their personal philosophies.

Grid tied solar on homes would solve the power issue. Buy the dumped panels from China for the initial installation, and ramp up domestic production for replacement parts (as 20+ year life is good, but still means you need to replace about 5% per year forever). Distributed solar will take care of almost all our problems. We may end up with the (good) problem of more peak generation than demand, in which case we'd need to invest in some sufficient storage (China uses hydro storage, and it's quite effective - yes, I've been to Tien Shi and seen the production facility). Enough of that stable enough, and we could decrease baseline production.

Re:Power generation still a big problem (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039593)

Parent is correct. Distributed power is a THREAT to centralized power and that is one reason there has been zero interest in technologies that are disruptive-- it is like expecting Microsoft to support Linux.

If every house was partially covered in solar panels we would have a totally different situation that we do today. We wouldn't need wind or nuclear. There would be a demand for power STORAGE so instead of a nuclear plant you would have probably also centralized big corporations which sucked up your cheap solar power and sold it back to you at night. Advances in battery tech and investment in conversion/storage would be much much higher resulting in many side benefits (because research often produces discoveries are were not the goal of the research. Just look how many things come out from "worthless" biological research or space exploration.)

It is still too high (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038541)

We are still producing more CO2 than the plants can remove.

And I think some of the credit should go to the better cars and hybrids, the wind turbines, and solar panels. People biking to work, using CFL and LED lights, and reducing the amount of power it takes to heat and cool a house. Even the switch from CRT and desktop computers to low power laptops and cell phones helped. There is a lot of easy things we can do to reduce the power we consume.

It isn't a competition to see what can be better than coal, it is a race to see if we can get below the amount of CO2 that the plants and trees use each year.

And we should look into those treaties again. The Republicans made a wrong decision for not signing it. If they would have, we would have achieved it, and China might have grown slower meaning that there would be more jobs here in the US.

Re:It is still too high (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038697)

And we should look into those treaties again. The Republicans made a wrong decision for not signing it. If they would have, we would have achieved it, and China might have grown slower meaning that there would be more jobs here in the US.

How do you figure that? Kyoto only held China to the standards of other 'developing economies'. But since they are our proxy for dirty manufacturing, all that would happen is more manufacturing would move there.

The only sane treaty holds everyone to the same standards. Granted, the third world points at us and cries about our record of consumption that put us in our current position. But the Chinese don't need to go through a phase of driving 6000 lb cars with tail fins to achieve what we did. Put them in the same state of the art vehicles that you all want us to drive.

Oh, and every pound of carbon that a tree in the USA sequesters should be worth the same as a pound of carbon sequestered in a South American rain forest (sorry Al Gore if this undermines your investments).

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038567)

Now they've got an excuse for when global warming fails to live up to their predictions.

awesome !! (-1, Offtopic)

KamilBourne13 (2710871) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038589)

like Stephen said I can't believe that a stay at home mom able to get paid $5611 in one month on the computer. have you read this website http://bit.ly/Axjzj6 [bit.ly] (Click "Home" on the menu bar)

Kind of disproves the conservatives claim (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038721)

I keep hearing from conservatives that we can't do anything about climate change or reducing CO2. Natural gas has long been proposed as superior to oil because of releasing far less CO2. Fracking is dirty but we were producing plenty of natural gas before fracking. Fracking simply caused a glut and increased profits. Other factors like the reduction in driving mimics more efficient cars so we don't have to stop driving to make a difference. I just read we could offset all the cars just by grass feeding cows. Less corn is needed saving oil used in it's production, less corn means less gassy cows and allowing them to free range breaks down the waste more naturally releasing less methane and CO2. Also the soil becomes more biologically active allowing it to store more carbon as well as restoring the soil itself for farming. There are claims even, and not from left wing fanatics, that by field raising all our animals and going back to organic farming we could offset all our CO2 released. The point is factory farming is not sustainable and in some ways it's already starting to collapse. Downer cattle and Mad Cow are some of the many symptoms of weakness in the system. With farming we get the Gulf of Mexico dead zone as well as listeria outbreaks are a direct result of farm waste getting into our rivers. All of it together suggests the system is fixable without everyone driving electric cars and living like hyppies. Also organic farming is a cute term but hyppies didn't invent it it's how we produced food for the first 12,000 years. Modern farming has only been around for the last 100 years and has largely been a disaster.

Kind of proves the opposite. (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038939)

I keep hearing from conservatives that we can't do anything about climate change or reducing CO2.

That is what you heard.

That's not what they said.

Conservatives have long claimed there is no need to spend extra money to reduce CO2. They said there would be no benefit in ham-stringing first world countries in many ways to reduce a gas that may not even be causing a problem.

And as it turns out, they were correct. If we had adopted Kyoto the U.S. would have a far worse economy than we have today, with many additional regulations imposed on businesses - when it turns out those additional regulations were never even needed.

Over time alternative energy WILL naturally overcome traditional sources just in cost benefit alone, there is no need to hurt the productivity of countries to make that happen.

Y?UO FAI-L IT... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038735)

wasn't on St3ve's distribution make 80s, DARPA saw BSD member. GNAA (GAY

my experience (1)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038811)

I work at a coal plant. This year alone the overall power requirement for our area had been lower than the historical average. Yes, we did hit a peak generation record this year as well, but it's been a much milder year than normal.

We've also seen the cost of natural gas fall to the point where it was cheaper to leave the coal plants on standby and run the natural gas plants for the power demand.

This year we've run about 50% less than last year.

Part of a natural trend? (3, Interesting)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 2 years ago | (#41038841)

I remember reading an article many years ago - long before the global warming scare - that pointed out that moving to lower carbon fuels was a long-term trend. Industry started out with coal and charcoal, essentually pure carbon. Then it moved on to oil, which contains a mix of carbon and hydrogen. Natural gas was up-and-coming, with 1 carbon to 4 hydrogens. The article assumed that the future held nuclear and solar, both of which are essentially zero-carbon.

Aside from the hiccups with nuclear (justified or not, depending on your point of view), the article seems to have been pretty prescient.

All bad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41038845)

This is not good news children. This is an indication that our economy is dead. Good job libs mission accomplished.

Go Nuclear (3, Informative)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039285)

You could go nuclear and avoid so much of it's proliferation and disposal drawbacks by going with liquid flouride thorium reactors (LFTR's). But then again, if you wanted to create a big government pie-in-the-sky "make work" project, you could pursue fusion. Oh yeah, they're already doing that.

Re:Go Nuclear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41039437)

Instead of burning carbon & producing CO2, what they should do is subject carbon to a nuclear reaction by bombarding it with alpha particles, so that the carbon (atomic number = 6) will become oxygen (atomic number = 8), while producing energy. The output won't be CO2 - it will be Oxygen, so that the more carbon they consume, the more oxygen is created. This could be the cleanest energy ever created, and that too in plenty - no need to worry about oil, gas, hydro, wind, solar or anything else.

Well duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41039333)

File this under 'no shit sherlock'

No manufacturing (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#41039631)

This should not be a surprise that the emissions are lowest in 20 years, that's because so many manufacturing jobs have been moved out of USA.

The reality is that the wealthier economy can allow the luxury of decreasing its pollution, but not a poorer economy. Poor people don't care about the environment. Huge governments also don't care about the environment, see USSR for reference.

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