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Environmentalism, Global Warming, Carbon Emissions, and the reduction thereof

JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
edited May 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
Not seeing an overly recent thread about this, and I just got the June Wired which has a (rather inflammatory at its outset) cover article about global warming. Just a plain orange cover which says "Attention Environmentalists: Keep your SUV. Forget organics. Go nuclear. Screw the spotted owl." It approaches the climate issue from a "carbon cutting" perspective, everything else be damned, but it brings up some good points. I thought I'd summarize the gist of it, as it doesn't appear to be online yet.

It opens with the simple statement "the war on greenhouse gases is too important to be left to the environmentalists." - I find personal amusement with this statement as it reminds me of the oft-repeated statement "the generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance," but I think there's a core truth to this statement - environmentalism, at this point, is a largely fractured movement with a variety of focuses. Some are to preserving streams and other waterways. Others focus on individual animals, their habitats, and what have you. And then of course, there's the issue of global climate change and carbon dioxide reduction. The article argues that while each of the various parts of the movement hold valid points, the problem is that without facing the greenhouse gas emissions problem first (potentially to the detriment of other movements), the necessary steps will not be accomplished, and thus, as the immediate problem it needs to be taken out of the hands of environmentalists and steps need to start being accomplished now.
The environmentalist movement has never been short on noble goals. Preserving wild spaces, cleaning up the oceans, protecting watersheds, neutralizing acid rain, saving endangered species - all laudable. But today, one ecological problem outweighs all others: global warming. Restoring the Everglades, protecting the Headwaters redwoods, or saving the Illinois mud turtle won't matter if climate change plunges the planet into chaos. It's high time for greens to unite around the urgent need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Just one problem. Winning the war on global warming require slaughtering some of environmentalism's sacred cows. We can afford to ignore neither the carbon-free electricity supplied by nuclear energy nor the transformational potential of genetic engineering. We need to take advantage of energy efficiencies offered by urban density. We must accept that the world's fastest growing economies won't forgo a higher standard of living in the name of climate science -- and that, on the way up, countries like India and China might actually help devise the solutions the planet so desperately needs. Some will reject this approach as dangerously single-minded: The environment is threatened on many fronts, and all of them need attention. So argues Alex Steffen on page 165. That may be true, but global warming threatens to overwhelm the progress made on other issues. The planet is already heating up, and the point of no return may only be decades away. So combating greenhouse gases must be our top priority, even if it means embracing the unthinkable.

I'll avoid quoting any more of the article, and run down the points it brings up.

•Live in cities - beyond the obvious issues of commute to live in suburbia and the waste of resources in general, it points out things like lawn mowers ejecting 11 cars' worth of emissions an hour, and points out that a Manhattan citizen has a 30 percent smaller footprint than the average American. Additionally, from a carbon perspective, the method of mass transportation that emits the least carbon is the counterweight elevator (although I don't know if it takes into account the added cost from a carbon perspective of building the vertical buildings). In short, grow up, not out.

•Air Conditioning is okay. The long and short of it is thus: It takes less energy to cool by 1 degree than to heat by 1 degree, and it's easier to get from 110 degrees to 70 than it is to get from 0 degrees to 70. We obviously can't all get up and move to different climates, and people can afford to put the notch a couple degrees higher and learn to live with it, but heating releases 8x as much carbon as cooling does - (injecting personal thoughts here) rather than focusing on A/C, we need to focus more on updating insulation in older, less efficient buildings. I can only imagine there's been significant progress along those lines, and it would not surprise me if one of the simplest ways to cut on power use is to properly insulate old buildings.

•Organic farms aren't all they're cracked up to be. While it makes sense from a personal health stance, non-organic farms can produce the same amount of product with less animals, and less carbon emissions per animal. If you want to be truly carbon-sensitive with eating habits, go vegetarian, although even there, organic may not outweigh non-organic (it doesn't have any hard numbers in this perspective). Most important, in my opinion, is the footnote - buy local, not items sent in refrigerated trucks from far away. Does anyone know whether there's a simple way to be able to tell how far away products come from, though? Local markets that only serve local foods and what have you? Additionally, it doesn't take into account any other environmental impacts, but we already covered that.

•Treat forests like farms. In short, rotting trees (and ones lost to forest fires) are releasing all the CO2 which they absorb through their lifetime, and trees decline in the CO2 absorbed past 55 years, so we would be better served cutting all the old trees and planting new ones. Cites a study by the Canadian government from last year that found that many years, Canadian forests actually gave off more CO2 than they absorbed due to decomposing woods. I have to admit that this one I'm not too fond of, although (to a degree) I see where they're coming from. I'm fond of the wilderness, and I hate to start thinking of destroying that in the name of reducing carbon.

•China is good, not bad. This is less a matter of things we can do and more a matter of attempting to fix a potential misconception. They're the top manufacturer of alternative energy from solar cells to lithium ion batteries and heading into wind energy. The head of the Global Wind Energy Council is quoted as saying that China will be capable of generating 10 gigawatts by 2010, roughly half of what the whole world's capacity was in 2007.

•Genetic Engineering is good. In short, we use genetic engineering to reduce the carbon output from certain farm crops, and to increase the energy output of biofuels. Cites an example of a California company which has genes for nitrogen-efficient rice which (the company assumes) will save 50 million tons of CO2 a year.

•Give up on carbon trading. Basically calls it a stupid idea from a number of perspective, and points out that all of the clean development mechanisms from Kyoto, designed to keep 175 million tons of CO2 out of the air by 2012, will delay the rise of carbon emissions by 6.5 days.

•Nuclear power. Won't find much argument on this one here. Points out that 37% of all US CO2 emissions are from coal, that electric power makes 26% of all greenhouse emissions, 9% of the United States, etc.

•Used cars > Hybrids. They kinda reach on this one, using very extreme scenarios. I'll agree on the sentiment of "reuse, don't buy new" in general, not just cars.

•Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. "The Electrical Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, CA calculates that even if the US, Europe, and Japan turned off every power plant and mothballed every car today, atmospheric CO2 will still climb from the current 380 parts per million to a perilous 450 ppm by 2070 thanks to contributions from China and India. Do nothing and we'll get there by 2040." Basically, while we need to start improving so that things don't get unthinkably worse, we also need to start preparing to adapt to the inevitable.

The comment mentioned in the first quote which addresses the problems with focusing on carbon exclusively focuses on the "treat forests like farms" and on the nuclear power issues, doesn't really touch on the others.




But anyway, how bad do you folks think it will get, and do you have any suggestions that individuals can take during their normal days in order to help reduce emissions?

Jragghen on
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Posts

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    The evening news was making a big deal last week about an announcement by the White House that polar bears were dying due to man-made global warming. I may have missed it but was this the first time the Bush administration agreed people are contributing to global warming?

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  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I don't think anyone knows how bad it will get, because climate prediction is apparently not much more precise than reading the future from tea leaves. Meteorologists still can't seem to simulate the weather systems that cause El Nino/La Nina or large rain-free zones such as the Sahara, and these phenomena have been known about for a long time.

    But it is kind of worrying that the last time this planet's atmosphere contained 450 ppm of CO2, the Antarctica didn't have an ice cap. The loss of that ice cap would raise sea levels by a shitload.

    One interesting suggestion to remove carbon from the ecosystem is to convert former marshlands back into marshland. I think they're already starting work on that in California. The idea is that marsh plants trap CO2 from the atmosphere, but when they die they don't decompose (which would release CO2 back into the atmosphere). Instead, they just sink underwater and gradually turn into peat, potentially storing their carbon for a very long time.

    The problem with that seems to be that marshes produce a certain amount of methane (a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2), and they're currently figuring out how that affects the grand scheme of things.

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  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    People should watch this, too (or listen to the podcast, like I did).

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  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    I don't think anyone knows how bad it will get, because climate prediction is apparently not much more precise than reading the future from tea leaves. Meteorologists still can't seem to simulate the weather systems that cause El Nino/La Nina or large rain-free zones such as the Sahara, and these phenomena have been known about for a long time.

    The work of meteorologists to climate change is apples/oranges-ish.

    Also, in regards to my previous link, http://www.thebreakthrough.org/index.shtml is an interesting place.

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  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    I don't think anyone knows how bad it will get, because climate prediction is apparently not much more precise than reading the future from tea leaves. Meteorologists still can't seem to simulate the weather systems that cause El Nino/La Nina or large rain-free zones such as the Sahara, and these phenomena have been known about for a long time.

    The work of meteorologists to climate change is apples/oranges-ish.

    I don't see how being able to make regional climate predictions with some accuracy could be less than crucial to figuring out how bad it will get (from a humanitarian perspective, which I assume is what the OP meant).

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    I don't think anyone knows how bad it will get, because climate prediction is apparently not much more precise than reading the future from tea leaves. Meteorologists still can't seem to simulate the weather systems that cause El Nino/La Nina or large rain-free zones such as the Sahara, and these phenomena have been known about for a long time.

    The work of meteorologists to climate change is apples/oranges-ish.

    I don't see how being able to make regional climate predictions with some accuracy could be less than crucial to figuring out how bad it will get (from a humanitarian perspective, which I assume is what the OP meant).
    Whether or not it rains on a particular day is essentially irrelevant to the longer term scenario, where we know to within a certain accuracy it will rain X amount because of daily evaporation etc.

  • Wonder_HippieWonder_Hippie __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?

    Spoiler:
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?

    meltdown lol

    Seriously though, I think it'd be kinda cool to live in the Fallout universe.

    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?

    Irrational fear of meltdown, environmental issues with nuclear waste, threat of proliferation, terrorism blowing one up, etc.

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  • ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User
    edited May 2008
    emnmnme wrote: »
    The evening news was making a big deal last week about an announcement by the White House that polar bears were dying due to man-made global warming. I may have missed it but was this the first time the Bush administration agreed people are contributing to global warming?

    Sort of. I'm not sure if they've admitted that GW is *man* made yet.

    pokes: 1505 8032 8399
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?
    What do we do with the waste?

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?
    What do we do with the waste?
    Store it under guard as a potentially untapped future resource.

    Actually in my ideal world, high level radioactive waste is piled on top of those 40% efficient thermocouples to provide yet more electricity from the heat it puts out.

  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?
    What do we do with the waste?

    As opposed to coal plants, where we just send the waste- some of which is also radioactive- into the sky?

  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?
    What do we do with the waste?

    As opposed to coal plants, where we just send the waste- some of which is also radioactive- into the sky?
    I genuinely wanted to know what to do with the waste. :|

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  • MahnmutMahnmut Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I'm not entirely buying this idea that we need to abandon clean waterways and spotted owls and whatnot in order to solve global warming. For one thing, will 'reallocating' environmentalists really help sway public opinion? Global warming is already big news. For another, will a carbon-only message really be more motivating than a holistic healthy-planet philosophy? I'm not so sure.

    Steam/LoL: Jericho89
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Yeah, its definitely a "cut your nose off to spite your face" sort of solution.

  • JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?
    What do we do with the waste?

    As opposed to coal plants, where we just send the waste- some of which is also radioactive- into the sky?
    I genuinely wanted to know what to do with the waste. :|

    Currently? Mix it with some other elements to put it into a glass-like substance, then bury it, for the most part.

    What could be done? If my understanding is correct, we can take the waste and put it into another type of reactor, generating new types of isotopes and getting more energy in the process, then put the waste from those reactors back into normal ones. The problem with this is that what's generated can be used in weaponry, and in general people don't want more of that stuff floating around.

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  • Mustachio JonesMustachio Jones Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I guess I'm one of the few who still just doesn't buy that man has been the sole cause of this. For the record, no I do not deny that we're in a bad situation and it certainly cannot do any harm whatsoever to cut the bullshit and start using more efficient energy sources. However, I certainly do not buy that relatively inaccurate weather and climate recordings from about the past ~70 years can give enough grounds that we've been doing this to ourselves.

    Mostly, in the grand scheme of things, the goddamned planet is 5 billion years old. We're but a tiny pockmark on the giant ass of this celestial body, and I guess I'm just ignorant as to how we can ignore the fact that the earth has been doing this kind of shit for way longer than we've been around.

    more on topic:

    I realize that today the only way to get anyone to do anything with large sums of money is scare tactics and making sure there's a market for it. So yeah, it makes sense to do it that way, but I just hate that the science is being exploited.

  • JragghenJragghen Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I guess I'm one of the few who still just doesn't buy that man has been the sole cause of this. For the record, no I do not deny that we're in a bad situation and it certainly cannot do any harm whatsoever to cut the bullshit and start using more efficient energy sources. However, I certainly do not buy that relatively inaccurate weather and climate recordings from about the past ~70 years can give enough grounds that we've been doing this to ourselves.

    Mostly, in the grand scheme of things, the goddamned planet is 5 billion years old. We're but a tiny pockmark on the giant ass of this celestial body, and I guess I'm just ignorant as to how we can ignore the fact that the earth has been doing this kind of shit for way longer than we've been around.

    more on topic:

    I realize that today the only way to get anyone to do anything with large sums of money is scare tactics and making sure there's a market for it. So yeah, it makes sense to do it that way, but I just hate that the science is being exploited.

    There is a correlation between the temperature and carbon dioxide, but we can't prove causation, yes. Furthermore, yes, there is the argument that we may not be solely responsible and it may be partially due to natural climate shifts, it is undeniable that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has shot up due to human actions. My sentiment is basically this - wouldn't it be better to hedge our bets?

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Science isn't being exploited and you should take an inkling that perhaps if "relatively inaccurate" data still shows a measurable and obvious trend then we are in fact doing something despite the lack of precision of the instrumentation.

  • Mustachio JonesMustachio Jones Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    (I don't have the links to the information any more, so take that as you will)

    But it's pretty safe to assume that any topic of science with politicians pouring money into it is going to have skewed data. Science certainly is being exploited in that sense, because people believe numbers.

    I honestly don't know why I'm trying to defend humanity here. I'm not particularly fond of us, and I'm not disagreeing with actions taken to improve how we live for both us and our environment. I think at best we're delaying the inevitable and have more important things to worry about like overpopulation, though I guess cheaper energy = cheaper ways to create more room for them.


    An obvious trend over the amount of time humans have been using resources that create CO2 as a byproduct to 5 billion years (give or take, due to all the fun reactions and stuff, so a bit more like 4? I'm not really sure what would be good here but my point remains) is a bit inconsequential, but it's really not worth arguing because that's not what this thread is about and I really don't feel like getting infracted for it.

  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    There is a shitload more money in saying global warming doesn't exist, let me assure you.

    EDIT: Also, global warming is not concern about the collapse of the environment, it's concern about the collapse of the environment that currently supports modern civilization. Earth, naturally, doesn't give a fuck whether we live on it or not and new species will always evolve but it doesn't take all that much change to make all of western civilization (indeed, global civilization as we know it) rather untenable.

  • Mustachio JonesMustachio Jones Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    There is a shitload more money in saying global warming doesn't exist, let me assure you.

    Just for my own sake, I just want to point out that I'm not saying that global warming doesn't exist. In terms of humanity and how we live, an increase in temperature is fucking astronomical. It exists. I'm just discrediting out importance in it, as humanity likes to give itself a lot of credit.

    I guess my opinion is a bit skewed to begin with, as I don't really care for much. I live a pretty shallow life in that I'm a firm believer in the whole "yeah, humanity is insignificant on this planet, but what about the planet itself?" line of thinking. Suffice to say I've had more than my fair share of time spent thinking about things, and I've granted myself the right to be a cynical bastard because of it. If I need to give justification I will.

    So, more on topic: every little bit counts and it's really our only option while the world tries to right itself. Nuclear energy is our path to the future, since we're going to have to expand to other places soon, be it underwater(not a great idea: high upkeep for maitenance) or space, because overpopulation is a huge problem in my mind.

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    One interesting suggestion to remove carbon from the ecosystem is to convert former marshlands back into marshland. I think they're already starting work on that in California. The idea is that marsh plants trap CO2 from the atmosphere, but when they die they don't decompose (which would release CO2 back into the atmosphere). Instead, they just sink underwater and gradually turn into peat, potentially storing their carbon for a very long time.

    The problem with that seems to be that marshes produce a certain amount of methane (a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2), and they're currently figuring out how that affects the grand scheme of things.

    Also, marshes produce mosquitos and lime disease.

  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I think I'm the biggest fan of moving everyone into gigantic fucking cities, as I think there is a strong argument that there are severe social benefits to population density, so you gill two birds (environmental hazards, backwoods rednecks and other whack subcultures) with one stone.

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  • JebusUDJebusUD Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I think that the "treat forests as farms" part would be bad. What would happen to displaced species and such. It would be very hard on animals, and would disturb delicate ecosystems.

    You haven't given me a reason to steer clear of you!
  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    JebusUD wrote: »
    I think that the "treat forests as farms" part would be bad. What would happen to displaced species and such. It would be very hard on animals, and would disturb delicate ecosystems.

    But don't you see? We're not supposed to care about that anymore.

  • Mustachio JonesMustachio Jones Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    The thing is it's really getting "us or them". And if we have any proof, it's going to be us.

    Fuck you, Nature! Let's kill all your dudes so we can save the rest of you for future exploitation!

  • AegeriAegeri Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    One interesting suggestion to remove carbon from the ecosystem is to convert former marshlands back into marshland. I think they're already starting work on that in California. The idea is that marsh plants trap CO2 from the atmosphere, but when they die they don't decompose (which would release CO2 back into the atmosphere). Instead, they just sink underwater and gradually turn into peat, potentially storing their carbon for a very long time.

    The problem with that seems to be that marshes produce a certain amount of methane (a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2), and they're currently figuring out how that affects the grand scheme of things.

    Also, marshes produce mosquitos and lime disease.

    Lyme disease comes from deer ticks, which live on deer and I'm not sure about Marshes being good for deer or not (never figured deer to be very into marshes myself). Are you thinking of something like malaria or yellow fever?

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?
    Well, its a silly idea here because of the capital costs and especially the water demands. We barely have enough water for us.

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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    JebusUD wrote: »
    I think that the "treat forests as farms" part would be bad. What would happen to displaced species and such. It would be very hard on animals, and would disturb delicate ecosystems.
    A better idea would be to treat a lot of farming systems more like forests. Doesn't work for everything, but it can be very effective.

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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    I think I'm the biggest fan of moving everyone into gigantic fucking cities, as I think there is a strong argument that there are severe social benefits to population density, so you gill two birds (environmental hazards, backwoods rednecks and other whack subcultures) with one stone.
    Like that comment about suburbs necessitating lawns, I think this is an oversimplification. Cities are only successful under the right circumstances, and if they aren't there you get Manila. Or South Central LA.

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  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    I think I'm the biggest fan of moving everyone into gigantic fucking cities, as I think there is a strong argument that there are severe social benefits to population density, so you gill two birds (environmental hazards, backwoods rednecks and other whack subcultures) with one stone.

    So this is what living in China does to you right.

    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • ProfsProfs Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Thanks for that video link, Loren. Like they talked about in it, I'm really surprised that neither of the two democratic candidates have made GW and renewable energies more of a campaign push. For me, if one showed a much stronger commitment to investment in renewables, they'd have my vote. I can only hope that the $150 Billion investment promised by Obama or Clinton doesn't get tossed by the wayside once they reach office.

    That said, this article in the OP is, overall I think, very well intended, but is aimed at the wrong audience. It IS going to take government action to really solve it.

  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Aegeri wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    One interesting suggestion to remove carbon from the ecosystem is to convert former marshlands back into marshland. I think they're already starting work on that in California. The idea is that marsh plants trap CO2 from the atmosphere, but when they die they don't decompose (which would release CO2 back into the atmosphere). Instead, they just sink underwater and gradually turn into peat, potentially storing their carbon for a very long time.

    The problem with that seems to be that marshes produce a certain amount of methane (a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2), and they're currently figuring out how that affects the grand scheme of things.

    Also, marshes produce mosquitos and lime disease.

    Lyme disease comes from deer ticks, which live on deer and I'm not sure about Marshes being good for deer or not (never figured deer to be very into marshes myself). Are you thinking of something like malaria or yellow fever?

    And dengue fever and the like. I guess you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

    Seriously though, I think that's a valid concern. But mosquitoes don't travel very far, so I guess the problem can be alleviated by making sure the artificial marshes aren't close to where lots of people live. Which would fit in nicely with the "everybody move to cities" plan.

    I'm a big fan of nuclear power. We rely on that a lot here in Finland, but then, we have no shortage of water either and the place is geologically so stable that I for one would welcome the whole world to dump their nuclear waste under the bedrock here.
    Whether or not it rains on a particular day is essentially irrelevant to the longer term scenario, where we know to within a certain accuracy it will rain X amount because of daily evaporation etc.

    Yeah because predicting whether or not it rains on a particular day is the same thing as predicting changes in the El Niño/La Niña cycle. Or predicting changes in rainfall over a year or a decade. I guess I should have phrased my post in greater detail, because simply mentioning these things apparently wasn't enough to make it clear that this was the scale I was talking about.

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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    The Cat wrote: »
    I really don't understand why people are still against nuclear power. Are there valid reasons, or are people just being stupid again?
    Well, its a silly idea here because of the capital costs and especially the water demands. We barely have enough water for us.
    Not really true though - nuclear powerplants can use sea water for the secondary (open) cooling loops, and then you don't kill aquatic life by running it through cooling ponds before returning it to the sea.

    Capital costs is one of the big ones plus the government has to subsidize the power to make it competitive (and it's a political hot button). But - we are constantly building new coal infrastructure anyway, which is slightly ridiculous given global warming.

    Also, we have boatloads of uranium.

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    that's not so bad, but most proposals here involve plunking them in the desert so people don't freak out...

    IRT marshlands and other wetland type ecosystems - they have a huge array of functions that make them pretty essential and their removal A Bad Idea - breeding grounds for fish and other aquatic/marine life, flood control (they act like sponges), to a certain extent sediment stabilisation on deltas thus creation of new land (although there's some debate about the mechanism here).

    Most importantly, mosquitos in large numbers aren't a 'normal' part of many marshes - they should have enough predators to keep the larval loads down. Its just that the predators are rather more vulnerable to pollution/disturbance than the mozzies. One of the signs of a wetland with problems is the mozzie overload (that and the smell). Its also important to note that not all mosquitoes carry diseases, and that spraying can handle the problem pretty easily. Also also, there's new fancy ways of spraying scads of parasites everywhere instead of chemicals, which is neat because they're species-specific and cheap. Marshes are rad.

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  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    The Cat wrote: »
    I think I'm the biggest fan of moving everyone into gigantic fucking cities, as I think there is a strong argument that there are severe social benefits to population density, so you gill two birds (environmental hazards, backwoods rednecks and other whack subcultures) with one stone.
    Like that comment about suburbs necessitating lawns, I think this is an oversimplification. Cities are only successful under the right circumstances, and if they aren't there you get Manila. Or South Central LA.

    Sure, but speaking not-all-that-broadly, city-dwellers in industrialized nations have smaller ecological footprints than their nature-loving rural cousins, and (at least in the U.S. in this case, not sure about the rest of the world, but I suspect it tends to hold there as well) cities are generally bastions of liberalism compared to their Podunk cousins.

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  • PeekingDuckPeekingDuck __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    Moving people to cities doesn't work because they pretty quickly create violations of the NAAQS as outlined by EPA. Revised standards in the last couple months will cause pretty much every urban area to be in violation. Most will be designated non-attainment by 2011.

    The quote in the OP is accurate though. Environmentalism has become a religion. You don't base something this important on the opinion of "fundies."

    Unfortunately, these issues are easily used as ammunition in presidential campaigns. We usually end up going back and revising rules because they either do more harm to the environment (EPA's recent carbon control ideas generating more CO2), or we have to fight unreasonable demands related to the economic reasonability of controls on pollutants that should not be classified as criteria pollutants (CO).

    The private sector pays so much better than state and federal governments though, so you end up with a brain drain similar to some countries. You end up with people in government who don't understand the processes or science creating the regulations. Governments can't hope to pay what industry pays, so you end up with an unsolvable problem and a lot of wasted time trying to correct errors. Similar to the teacher quality issue. They don't make any money so you won't attract good talent (generally, of course). Some people just do it because they love to do it. Surprisingly though, more and more of them are working in industry and as consultants because they are trying to slow down the damage done by state an federal agencies.

  • PeekingDuckPeekingDuck __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2008
    Also, the idea that meteorology/GHG is an apples to oranges issue isn't correct. Air dispersion modeling is driven by meteorologists and some of the best I've met in the industry are trained as meteorologists. These models are also used in permitting by state and federal agencies, so they see some merit in it as well.

    Modeling is advancing pretty rapidly, but running a single iteration of a model can take days on modern computers, so we're still a ways off from even modeling the photochemical reactions involving NOx and VOCs in cities from trees, cars, industry, and other sources. To model all the gases involved in climate change is far beyond us, we still haven't decided on baseline gases and their relative strengths.

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