The Battle Over Sustainable Energy

Unlike a lot of activists, I’m not what you’d call a single-issue voter. Education, health care, immigration, land use, transportation—I’m passionate about all of them. But if there’s one overarching issue for me, it’s our environment and how we as a civilization deal with the now undeniable impacts of climate change. Whether or not you believe human industry is responsible for melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, superstorms, draught, and famine, you have to admit that the future looks bleak for our species if we don’t do something to stop the regression.

And if humans can’t survive the next 100 years on this planet, it really doesn’t matter if we get comprehensive immigration reform, gun control, new funding mechanisms for our schools, or the A’s in San Jose.

At the core of the problem is how and where we get our energy. The industrial revolution created an exponentially increasing demand for juice to power our homes, offices, cars, and now smart phones. Over the past 150 years, large energy companies have profited from a seller’s market, raising rates at will and passing the cost of their boondoggles along to ratepayers. For a good long while, this was an unavoidable dynamic. These guys had the production and distribution system, and we needed cold beer on Sunday. But the onset of green energy technology provides us all with a chance to stake our own claims in the battle against climate change—and we can create jobs and save lives while we’re at it.

Even single-issue environmental activists will agree, there is no silver bullet in the green energy revolution. It will take combination of sources—solar, wind, water, (hydrogen fuel cells, anyone?)—to generate the power needed for our increasingly digital civilization to thrive. But most would also agree that rooftop solar power is one of the true success stories of the green economy. This is particularly true in California, where residents, schools, and businesses have installed more than 1,400 MW of rooftop solar capacity—about the same amount of energy generated by three dirty, coal-fired power plants.

Solar electricity is pollution-free and comes from a source that will never dry up—at least for the next few billion years. The solar industry employs more than 43,000 Californians and has driven $10 billion in private investment in the state over the past five years. A key factor in the continued growth of the industry is a policy called “net metering.” According to a state government website: “Net energy metering, or ‘NEM’, is a special billing arrangement that provides credit to customers with solar PV (photovoltaic) systems for the full retail value of the electricity their system.”

Basically, net metering is like rollover minutes on your cell phone bill, and we’re not talking about nickels and dimes. A January study by Crossborder Energy showed that net metering will save ratepayers of big California utilities more than $92 million annually. And now that third-party owned solar has reduced or eliminated the high costs of installation, two-thirds of California home solar installations are popping up in low- and median-income neighborhoods. As solar energy gets cheaper and becomes more accessible, Californians buy less electricity from big utilities. So it should come as no surprise that the state’s investor-owned utilities are trying to drown the NEM baby in the bathtub.

That’s why it was good to read the other day that public health leaders and solar energy companies have formed a new coalition called CAUSE (Californians Against Utilities Stopping solar Energy). Okay, so there’s one extra “s” in there, but despite the name, the group has an honorable cause:  fighting back against legislative efforts sponsored by the big utility industry to stop rooftop solar. According to the group’s press release, CAUSE is “dedicated to maintaining a thriving solar industry in California, and to promoting the health and economic benefits that solar delivers to all Californians.”

Bottom line: Using less electricity is good for everyone, except the big utility companies. Shrinking profit margins for some of the wealthiest corporations in our state should not excuse actions that prevent people from making smart conservation choices. Like any other business with a reduced market for its product, utilities should cut costs through increased efficiency, modernize their industry to take advantage of the solar and green energy evolution, or simply learn to live with one less corporate jet.

As a former Mercury News employee, I’m reminded of the smell of slow death that permeated the newsroom as the Internet quickly became the number one source of information for a generation that doesn’t like the feel of newsprint on their fingers. If major newspaper publishers had recognized the potential of online media prior to the turn of the century, they would be better positioned to survive. Instead, the industry is a relic hanging on for dear life. The same dilemma confronts the utility industry, and it’s grounded in basic Darwinian philosophy: survival of the fittest.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go order a solar installation for my house.

Peter Allen is an independent communications consultant and the proud owner of a Prius that gets up to 50mpg.


  1. Great. Another Chicken Little global warming post. Meanwhile, in the real world things are much more nuanced. Reuters Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle reports that “scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps in their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Maybe it’s because the computer models that predict global warming are bogus. “My own confidence in the data has gone down in the past five years,” said Richard Tol, an expert in climate change and professor of economics at the University of Sussex in England.

    And according to this report, leading lefty journalist Harald Martenstein of Die Zeit, a German weekly, has an amusingly satirical essay on the misfortunes of climate science and modeling.

    And there was the recent collapse of the EU’s carbon trading scam, with Time asking “If Carbon Markets Can’t Work in Europe, Can They Work Anywhere?”

    Read more:

    • > Another Chicken Little global warming post.

      “Global warming” is just the most spectacular example of “coin operated science”.

      When Al Gore was VP, he put his stooge, Carol Browner (a lawyer, not a scientist) in charge of the EPA.

      The EPA passed out BILLIONS in federal grant money to “study” global warming.  (Hint: if your study suggested that global warming was a huge, menacing, bogeyman, you got more grant money.  If your study concluded that there was no problem, you were smeared as “outside the scientific consensus” and your scientific competency was questioned).

      Many scientists played the federal funding game by engaging in “If – then” research projects.

      “If global warming is true, and if the climate warms 16 degrees in five years, then palm trees will grow in Alaska and the worlds supply of coconuts will increase by 57 percent.”

      REAL science is based on hypotheses which are confirmed or disproven by careful, controlled experiments.

      What the global warming dumb asses have lost sight of is that a computer model is NOT an experiment, it is a hypothesis.  Hypotheses need to be proven by experiment in order to become “accepted science”.

      Labeling global warming as “settled science” is a completely UNSCIENTIFIC attitude.  I don’t think any REAL scientist regards anything as “settled science”.  The nature of scientific inquiry is that ANY proposition is subject to deeper scrutiny and examination.

      When a pseudo scientist says that “computer models prove that global warming is real” its confirmation that the pseudo scientist is a pseudo scientist.

      • You’re right, the computer models are utter bunk and “settled science” is nonsense. If Galileo Galilei had gone with “settled science” we’d still believe the sun revolves around the earth.

        As this report explains, “The pause in global warming​​—​​now going on 15 years​​—​​has become so obvious that many of the leading climate scientists are grudgingly admitting that global warming has stopped. James Hansen, who recently stepped down as NASA’s chief climate scientist to become a full-time private sector alarmist, is among those admitting that the recent temperature record has flatlined.”

        “After two decades of steady and substantial global temperature increase from 1980 to 1998, the pause in warming is causing a crisis for the climate crusade. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. The recent temperature record is falling distinctly to the very low end of the range predicted by the climate models and may soon fall out of it, which means the models are wrong, or, at the very least, something is going on that supposedly “settled” science hasn’t been able to settle. Equally problematic for the theory, one place where the warmth might be hiding​​—​​the oceans​​—​​is not cooperating with the story line. Recent data show that ocean warming has noticeably slowed, too.”

        I hope this new reality sinks in at CARB so we can get rid of the cap-‘n’-tax burden on the state’s ecomomy.

        • Sorry, but I’m inclined to believe Jeremy Grantham.

          So you have people who are very smart – even great analysts and hedge fund managers – who on paper know that their argument is wrong, but who promote it fiercely because they are libertarians. Libertarians believe that any government interference is bad. Anyone with a brain knows that climate change needs governmental leadership and they can smell this is bad news for their philosophy. Their ideology is so strongly held that remarkably it’s overcoming the facts.

        • > Their ideology is so strongly held that remarkably it’s overcoming the facts.

          So, what “facts” is libertarian ideology “overcoming” that would demonstrate that libertarian climate change skeptics are “wrong”?

          I think the East Anglia University “Climategate” revelations pretty much proved that the Warming Quacks are overcoming real world facts with their Global Warming ideology.

          No two ways about it.  They lied and then they covered it up.

        • Yes, by all means let’s as someone in the Midwest what’s going. I’ll go first. Hello Minnesota, what’s going on.

          Answer: “Well it’s earth day again, and here in Minnesota we are supposed to get 6 to 9 inches of global warming over the next 24 hours. We are breaking all kinds of snow and cold records in this state, it was 14 degrees below zero in Embarrass Minnesota Saturday morning and Duluth Minnesota got 41.7″ of snow in April (so far) making it the snowiest April ever.”

          “Meanwhile the Greeny Weenies are having an Earth Day Rally at the capital in St. Paul Minnesota pushing for carbon taxes to stop, you guessed it, GLOBAL WARMING!!”

        • It’s funny how one’s point of view distorts their vocabulary. If you agree with disclosure, the leakers of the East Anglia “climategate” emails were whistleblowers, if you’re opposed then they’re “thieves.” I guess you could have the same argument over the watergate “plumbers.”

          It does not matter how many lemmings turn up at an AGU conference in San Francisco. Science is not a popularity contest.

          David Deming, a geophysicist, is a professor at the University of Oklahoma figured out: “With each passing year, it is becoming increasingly clear that global warming is not a scientific theory subject to empirical falsification, but a political ideology that has to be fiercely defended against any challenge. It is ironic that skeptics are called ‘deniers’ when every fact that would tend to falsify global warming is immediately explained away by an industry of denial.”

          Read more:

        • So, the computer models that NASA use to guide spacecraft to Mars or Jupiter don’t count, because they’re just hypotheses?

          But you don’t need the detailed modeling.  Just going by the physical properties of CO2, it must cause warming, as per Victorian scientists like Tyndall.  The first calculations were done in the late 1800s, well before modern computers.

          In more recent years, we’ve been able to look back in Earth’s history, and there are many aspects that are explained by CO2 and inexplicable otherwise.  Someone trying to claim that CO2 has no effect would have to come up with alternative explanations for how, for example, Earth escaped from a “snowball Earth” phase without it being due to CO2 buildup.

          One would think that someone who opined on one of the major issues of your time would take the trouble to look into the facts beforehand, but the dismissal of CO2 in that glib way shows otherwise.

          If you really want to educate yourself, you could look online for Spencer Weart’s “History of Global Warming” articles and for Richard Alleys lecture on “CO2 in Earth’s History, the Biggest Control Knob”.

        • In my world, what I see is that the opposition to taking action on global warming seems driven by ideology, and not science.

          On the other hand, while there are no doubt hangers on from all sides of the political spectrum, there seems a very solid core of science that lies behind the need for action.

          The way you quoted “quacks” at East Anglia as part of some kind of conspiracy theory shows an approach based in politics and not science.

          The whole idea that all you have to do is find one loose end somewhere and pull it, and the whole rotten edifice will come down, seems held by the various so-called skeptics.  They seem to think that if only they can show that it was half a degree warmer back in Medieval times, or that modern temperature records are overstating the warming, then all the other stuff can be ignored.  Stuff like needing CO2 feedback to add to the Milankovitch cycles to explain the Ice Ages and interglacials.  Stuff like the temperature swings in the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum.  But all this is just dismissed.  The really amazing thing is that the denialists think that they’re well informed.

        • Oh dear, it’s amazing how someone so misinformed can be so confident in their opinions.

          They “lied and then covered it up”?

          Any lawyer will tell you to keep quiet and say nothing, because it’s so easy for words to be twisted,  So some thieves stole an entire email archive and mined it for anything that could be read the wrong way.  But if you actually look at what was actually in there, there’s nothing in the way of scandal, just some very ordinary people under strain from the continual unwarranted attacks.

          The real world facts remain, that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that multiple independent lines of enquiry all point to a doubling of CO2 causing about a three degrees Celsius temperature rise, plus or minus one point five.

          Thousands of scientists turn up every year at the AGU fall conference in San Francisco,  Are they all in on a scam?

          My take is that the free market fundamentalists and libertarians are so set against the genuine science because, if true, their political ideology has no real answer.  So rather than admit that their politics are bankrupt, they have to trash the scientists.

          For reasons to be worried that are totally independent of the people at East Anglia, search for Richard Alley giving the Bjerknes lecture at the AGU a few years back “The biggest control knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History”.  The title ought to give you a clue.

        • > Do you read the New York Times?

          > If you don’t like reading, then look at the anecdotal evidence. If you know anyone that’s in the MidWest, ask how warm it’s been. . . .

          You failed science class in high school, didn’t you.

          Science is about the scientific method and doing experiments.  It’s not about reading the New York Times.

          It’s really appalling how scientifically ignorant American society has become.

          The poster children of scientific ignorance are the liberal activist social studies and poly sci majors who think they can fake scientific knowledge by citing polls: “All the cool people think global warming is real, so it must be a scientific fact.”

          Um.  No. 

          Science doesn’t work that way.

        • Please cite your sources for the fact that CO2 causes global warming. Computer models, being hypotheses, don’t count.

          Thousands of people turned up at COMDEX. It’s no more…

          That ought to give you a clue.

        • > My take is that the free market fundamentalists and libertarians are so set against the genuine science because, if true, their political ideology has no real answer.

          I see.  So in your world, global warming is about ideology and not about science.

          Global warming has nothing to do with “free market fundamentalist and libertarian” political ideology.

          There’s no real answer because there’s no real question.

        • All this CO2 scaremongering discounts that the world stopped warming. According to Benny Peiser, Cambridge Enterprise & Technology Club, 25 April 2013, “Since 1997, global temperatures have failed to rise. As a result, climate predictions and climate science are facing a crisis of credibility. We don’t know whether or not global warming will become a global problem this century. It is certain, however, that Britain’s unilateral climate policy is undermining the UK’s economy and is threatening its competitiveness.”

          Furtheremore, by insisting on scientific consensus and the “elimination of doubt”, seeking to declare the science of AGW settled once and for all, and imbuing this putative settlement with highly normative and pejorative allegations (to question is “irresponsible, reckless and immoral”), the consensus approach clings to being (solely) “science-based”, but its position is at the same time implicitly in direct opposition to the ethos of “normal science”. It is not supported, justified or endorsed by science in its canonical expression, where science, based on thinkers such as Kant,  Popper, Merton and Polanyi is seen to be constituted on continued discussion, open criticism, antidogmatism, (self)critical mindset, methodological doubt, and the organization of scepticism. –Consensus and Controversy, SINTEF April 2013

        • I see yet more denialist misinformation, amusingly cloaked in concern for the proper functioning of science.  Not surprising that it’s from Anthony Watts’ site.

          Talking about being immune to evidence, here’s Watts when he heard that Richard Muller and a bunch of apparently skeptical scientists would reexamine the historical temperature records:

          ” I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong. I’m taking this bold step because the method has promise
          Guess what – he lied.

          But temperatures have risen since 1997 (with the choice of year being a typical cherry pick).  Why else would last summer see the arctic ice shrink to a stunningly low minimum?

          The whole “elimination of doubt” meme there is misleading.  There is plenty of doubt, plenty of detail to be filled in.  I’d always taken the rough consensus as being three degrees Celsius per doubling of CO2, plus or minus one point five.  There’s work to be done in tightening up the error bars – but that doesn’t include notions of no warming at all.  Scientists have always tried to eliminate cranks.  In the past, the people who claimed to have invented perpetual motion machines or to have disproved quantum mechanics could be quickly identified and ignored. But people with the same crank mentality who claim that it’s nothing to do with CO2, it’s all about the sun/cosmic rays/bad measurements/whatever (because of course they can’t agree amongst themselves) get feted on websites like WTFUWT and have their half baked notions pushed to people who seem only to willing to be deceived.

      • Billions in grant money?  Where are all the millionaire scientists?  I think you are the victim of some misinformation.  Perhaps if you counted the costs of putting satellites in orbit and suchlike you might get to the billions, but the implication that the bulk of scientists are for sale is deeply offensive.

        A long while back, many of the fossil fuel companies created something called the Global Climate Coalition, which not surprisingly was a public relations front trying to play down the dangers of global warming.  What is notable about them is that they paid for a bunch of scientists to review all the evidence.  On the theory of “coin operated science” one would expect these folk to tell the oil companies what they wanted.  On the contrary, they said that the foundations of the AGW science were sound and the various alternatives that had been proposed were implausible.

        Not surprisingly, the people running the GCC did not publicize what their own experts had told them.

  2. Before you put energy as a #1 issue I suggest you look into the Calif water issues. there is just so much and we’re doing little to curtail population – which is the lurking time bomb of civilizaion.

    But back to energy.  Distributed power via rooftops is fine but its still a tiny portion of the big Calif energy picture.  Why not examine how political nuances are affecting everyone.

    Here is a prime example.  Back in the 1990’s when Calif electric industry was “de-regulated” it really messed up a lot of things – besides the Enron types and the rolling brownouts.  here is a dirty little secret that affects life right here in Silicon Valley.

    With the de-reg came new rules along with the Independent State Operator –  through which all electric buy/sell transactions occur.

    There is a little “loop-hole” which allows Municipal electric utilities to purchase federal power wherein investion owned utilities cannot (at those prices).  So some Municipals such as Santa Clara’s Silicon Valley Power have set up shop wherein they are buying federal power – for say – this coming week of August 5-12 and getting it at a very good price.  They will then sell that power as time draws near to perhaps PG&E at a higher price.  Not only is it a nearly risk free way to ream large dividends there are other ramifications.

    Think utility bills for very large electric users.  Costs like this play a big part in determining where some firm will locate a large plant.  This creates a substantial tax income for the residents of that little hamlet plus a lot of other amenities that other cities cannot offer their citizens. 

    What kind of great electric rates are provided to the big companies?  Try and ask.  Even though it is a PUBLIC utility – those electric rate contracts are not!

    So go on about your solar panel discussion – but keep in mind that is small fish compared to what has been going on already and the vast majority of the public is in the dark about this – no pun intended

  3. > Whether or not you believe human industry is responsible for melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, superstorms, draught, and famine, you have to admit that the future looks bleak for our species if we don’t do something to stop the regression.

    Your premise that “we” can “do something to stop the regression” is completely lunatic.

    Whoever told you that?  Why did you believe it?

    Didn’t you mother ever tell you not to take candy from those kind of people?

    Spending any public resources to stop “melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, superstorms, draught” is as foolish as a donkey dream.

  4. In addition to the growing body of evidence which proves that ‘global warming’ theory is so much horse excrement, I think it is important to note that so-called ‘green power’ sources are not without their own particular issues. For instance, even Greenpeace has acknowledged that advocating for ethanol has been a huge mistake on their part. In addition to ethanol being hugely destructive to traditional vehicle fuel lines, the emissions from ethanol are far worse for the environment than are those from clean diesel or modern gasoline engines. As well, the Brazilian government, in particular, has blessed the massive clear cutting of Amazonian rain forest for the purpose of expanding sugar cane production for manufacturing ethanol. Isn’t it funny how it’s bad to clear cut the rain forest to harvest exotic hardwoods, but not so bad when it’s for the purpose of questionably ‘green’ biofuels.

    Then, there’s the assertion that solar power is emission free, which is also untrue. Significant industrial pollution is generated as a result of mining for silicon as well as the manufacture of PV panels. On top of that little issues is the issue that silicon is often mined in countries which have questionable labor regulations and which are also susceptible to indulging in major market manipulation as demand for silicon increases. We saw this occur recently in the rare earth metal market when China manipulated that particular market resulting in massive increase in high energy magnetics such as neodymium. One result I felt as an amateur speaker builder is a nearly overnight increase in the price of certain types of raw speaker drivers which use neodymium in their magnet structures.

    Finally, there’s the total lack of disclosure by mass media of these issues. It’s not politically correct or popular to honestly discuss or disclose these fact and issues. For instance, how many of us are aware of what an ecological disaster Priuses are? Motor Trend published an article a while back talking about this issue( It’s also important to note that there’s absolutely no infrastructure in place of which I’m aware whereby the batteries from hybrids can be safely disposed of.

    When it comes to discussing issues such as these and when there are so many regulations in place which can have an adverse impact on individual liberty and finances, there needs to be far more transparency and honesty.

    • On top of that little issues is the issue that silicon is often mined in countries which have questionable labor regulations and which are also susceptible to indulging in major market manipulation as demand for silicon increases.

      Are you sure you have your facts straight?  Silicon is not that hard to find.  Go to any beach.  Sand is silicon dioxide.  Silicon makes up over 25% of the earth’s crust.

    • It’s also important to note that there’s absolutely no infrastructure in place of which I’m aware whereby the batteries from hybrids can be safely disposed of.

      The reason that there isn’t infrastructure in place to recycle hybrid batteries is that almost all of them are still on the road.  I have over 110k miles on my Prius.  I don’t know of anyone that has replaced a hybrid battery.

      This stuff about a Hummer causing less environmental damage than a Prius is nonsense.  Pure FUD (,_uncertainty_and_doubt)

      When’s the last time you saw a Hummer on the road?

      • For one, it is quartz (common, yes, but mining/supplying it HAS an environmental impact) which is processed into polysilicon to make solar panels. Around 2010, there was a shortage of polysilicon which was driving up prices for raw materials for solar panels. You can’t just scoop up sand from any beach or desert where it’s available and start making solar panels.

        Beyond that, acting as though Priuses -along with their batteries – are anything other than a disposable commodity is ridiculous. Just because YOURS has lasted this long doesn’t mean ALL of them have or will. At some point, something will have to be done with those very toxic batteries.

        Furthermore, are you going to try to argue that the mining of nickel up at Sudbury ISN’T an ecological disaster? Or that the nickel doesn’t get shipped from there to France to China to Japan, and finally back to the US as part of the Prius?

        Lastly, asking when I last saw a Hummer on the road is asinine, neither scientific nor objective. Hummers were always more expensive than Priuses and were always a bit of a niche product. And, since Hummer was shut down a few years ago by GM and Priuses are still being manufactured, there are, of course, going to be more on the road as a matter of fact. Do I see more of them on the road than any model of Hummer? Sure. (And usually they are being operated by people who drive like self-important a-holes.) But mere prevalence doesn’t refute the assertion.

  5. Whether you are a climate “alarmist” or climate “denier,” is there anything wrong with making a personal choice to conserve? There is a finite amount of fossil fuels, at some point they run out. Doesn’t it make sense to do what we can to extend that inevitability?

    That’s not to say that government should be mandating consumptive behavior, nor spending massive quantities of taxpayer money based on unproven climate hypotheses. But we, as individuals, are free to make those lifestyle choices.

    I’m not a champion of anthropogenic climate change, but I do have rooftop solar. It was a personal choice, and saves me significant money on the electric bill.

      • Indeed, fully informed rational analysis would be good.  It’s a shame that the fossil fuel industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to spread disinformation, so that it’s hard for non-specialists to cut through the lies.  The tobacco industry of course pioneered the techniques, and when the courts ordered the historical documents to be put online, it’s interesting to see that many of the same old flacks who were telling us that cigarettes were harmless have now moved on to telling us that CO2 is harmless.

        But beyond the personal choice, what’s to stop the freeloaders?  When the Europeans started to get serious about cutting back in the Nineties, the lower demand led to lower prices, and an SUV boom in the US.

        What would be good would be to have fossil fuel prices more fully reflect the damage being caused.  As they don’t, we have a “market failure” where the market is not doing a good job of allocation.

        • > It’s a shame that the fossil fuel industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to spread disinformation, so that it’s hard for non-specialists to cut through the lies.

          Speaking of disinformation, did you notice that Al Gore, science C-student and divinity school drop out, got the relationship between temperature and CO2 wrong in his infamous “Inconvenient Truth” PowerPoint presentation? (Of course you didn’t.)

          Al the Airbag said that increasing CO2 caused the temperature to rise.  Inconveniently, the truth is just the opposite. 

          1. The sun spews out more radiant energy.
          2. Temperature of the earth increases and warms the oceans.
          3. Warmer oceans release dissolved CO2 into the atmosphere.
          4. Atmospheric CO2 increases as a result of the earth warming.

          It’s called “Henry’s Law”, and the warming quacks got it wrong.

          Spread the word to the lunkhead community.

        • Hmm, you seem to have been given only part of the truth, where what was missed is what makes the end result misleading.

          The sequence goes:

          1. The sun doesn’t spew out more radiant energy.  Instead, the Earth’s orbit has long term wobbles (to use a technical term).  Look up Milankovitch cycles.
          2. Because of the slight differences in how the sun’s energy reaches the earth, the temperature of the earth increases and warms the oceans.
          3. Warmer oceans release dissolved CO2 into the atmosphere
          4 Atmospheric CO2 increases as a result of the earth warming
          5 The increased CO2 now acts to increase the warming.  Thus the relatively minor changes from the Milankovitch cycles are amplified into the Ice Ages and interglacials.  Without the CO2 feedback, we can’t explain why the temperature changes are so great, with it we can.

          But I guess you’re not really interested in learning how it really works, only in trying to find plausible enough arguments against.

        • No, I’m not calling Al Gore a liar.  I actually went to see the film (not a great one, too many soft focus shots of Gore and not enough science).  Anyway, at a point early in the film he’s introducing the audience to the record of CO2 in ice cores and says something like “the relationship is complicated”.  Ah, a quick search lets me find “The relationship is very complicated. But there is one relationship that is more powerful than all the others and it is this. When there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer, because it traps more heat from the sun inside.”

          So he skipped trying to explain the full details with the “it’s complicated” bit, but didn’t say that an initial increase of CO2 was what started a warming trend.  So not a liar, but not giving the full explanation.  A bit like how I learned science at school, every few years you’d do the same topic in more detail, he was doing the version for the audience’s inner fourth graders.

          It’s a pity he didn’t go into details, just to avoid plausible but baseless attacks like yours, but I guess that having introduced the CO2 record he wanted to move quickly to the main point.  That was how we’re increasing the amount in the atmosphere by levels and rates way beyond anything shown in the ice cores, and the obvious danger.

    • There’s nothing wrong with a personal lifestyle choice, like your rooftop solar installation. It’s when the state tries to bully us to accepting higher costs of living in the name of non-existent “global warming” that I get upset.

  6. From the “Heartland Institute”?  That’s not climate skepticism, that’s a full on propaganda institute for hire.

    Skeptics write propaganda
    Scientists do science

    And if the scientists let their contempt for the propagandists show, they end up being pilloried as per Heartland again.

    Despite my weariness with the utter trash that is the typical climate skeptic argument, I took a look at the author’s website.  A quick scan showed the usual trickery of noting that only about three percent of the CO2 placed into the atmosphere each year is from human emissions.  What that leaves out is that the ninety seven percent from natural causes is balanced by absorption from natural causes, leaving human agency as the reason why CO2 concentrations are well on the way to doubling.

    This sort of mendacious trickery is what the skeptics have to resort to, and why books like the one in question are worthless.

    • > A quick scan showed the usual trickery of noting that only about three percent of the CO2 placed into the atmosphere each year is from human emissions.  What that leaves out is that the ninety seven percent from natural causes is balanced by absorption from natural causes, leaving human agency as the reason why CO2 concentrations are well on the way to doubling.

      Bad news, Azul:  you’re no scientist.

      Whoever gave you that idea was just making a joke.

      Did you know . . .

      > Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen.

      So the geniuses at the UN, the EPA, the Sierra Club, and the rest of the Globalist crime syndicate are going to save us all from global warming by . . . taxing carbon?

      If nothing else, that’s certainly a world record in egomania and greed.

      What will they think of next?  Taxing hydrogen, helium, and oxygen?

      I can only imagine their giddyness when someone figures out they could tax dark matter and dark energy as well.

      And another thing? How are they going to keep all that carbon in the cosmos from leaking into the earth’s biosphere?

      Are we all going to cram into the Arizona Bio-Dome?  It’s still out in the desert, isn’t it?

      • I figured it would serve no purpose to continue to argue with you and your cohort, but at some point, it just gets too outrageous not to comment.

        David Keeling started measuring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii in 1958.  His first measurement in March of 1958 had it at an average of 315.71 parts per million.  The latest measurement on March 2013 had it at an average of 397.34 parts per million.  That’s about a 25% increase, and it’s still trending up.

        The full graph of these measurements are referred to as the Keeling Curve.

        Where are you getting your information?

        • > The full graph of these measurements are referred to as the Keeling Curve.

          Did Mr. Keeling do any controlled scientific experiments to prove:

          A. The increase in CO2 was caused by human activity;

          B. The increase in CO2 caused by human activity resulted in global warming;

          C. Increases in CO2 NOT caused by human activity do NOT cause global warming;

          D. Increases in solar activity—which heat the atmosphere and the oceans and cause the oceans to release CO2 into the atmosphere—are caused by human activity;

          E. How long term temperature records at many reporting stations on the globe can show a flat or declining trend even though other temperature stations on the very same globe show an increasing trend.

          If neither Mr. Keeling nor anyone else has done any of these experiments,—conclusively, peer reviewed, and validated by other independent experiments—then Mr. Keeling, Al Gore, or Peter Allen cannot honestly claim that global warming is “settled science”.

          Global warming is and remains just Mr. Globalist’s Narrative for the Masses to justify global taxes and limiting global freedom.

          > I figured it would serve no purpose to continue to argue with you and your cohort, but at some point, it just gets too outrageous not to comment.

          The continued cultivation of insolent and ignorant “low information voters” by the mass media and public education system is the TRUE outrage.

        • B. The increase in CO2 caused by human activity resulted in global warming;

          C. Increases in CO2 NOT caused by human activity do NOT cause global warming;

          Carbon dioxide is carbon dioxide, unless your scientific mind knows something the hoi polloi don’t.

        • It’s comical the reference to “low information voters” by someone who hasn’t bothered to do basic information gathering himself.

          It’s a done deal that the increase in CO2 is from human activity.  Apart from things like isotope signatures, there’s some simple math.  You can go through all those boring economic statistics about coal production and the like and add up all fossil fuels burned in the last hundred years or so.  Then you can calculate how much CO2 that gives.  Guess what?  All the numbers are consistent, a little under half of the CO2 we produced is still in the atmosphere, a little over a half is in the oceans (going by measured pH differences), a very small amount ended up in other places like extra biomass or rock weathering.

          The true outrage seems to be be manipulation of ignorant low information voters by the same bunch of public relations people as tried to tell us that cigarettes were harmless.

          To try to opine on the science without even understanding those undisputed numbers shows some mix of chutzpah and obliviousness.

      • I’m no scientist because it was more lucrative to go into computing, but I actually trained as a physicist.

        The three percent meme of the denialists is the bad joke, where they basically go along to count all the CO2 outgassed from the oceans as part of natural production, and totally leave out all the CO2 absorbed by the oceans.

        Or are you going to tell me some other source that totally dwarfs human production and isn’t balanced out?  Pray tell.

        The carbon tax idea would be not on carbon sitting safely in the ground but on production of CO2.  We’ve seen the economically equivalent idea of permits and trading in the production of SO2, where that was judged a great success in lowering pollution.

        But I guess you’re not interested in serious policy, just in trying to misrepresent for cheap points.

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