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One Year After Sandy, Tackling Climate Change With New Force

A year after Hurricane Sandy, we look at what’s in the works—and what’s not– to address climate change, from levees to energy policy.

In early morning darkness, workers prepare heavy machinery for the day as rebuilding work continues on the beach area of Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. (AP)

In early morning darkness, workers prepare heavy machinery for the day as rebuilding work continues on the beach area of Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. (AP)

We’re hearing all this week about the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.  The storm that swamped New York.  Bulldozed the Jersey shore.  Tore up the Eastern seaboard and said to many, “Hello, climate change” like nothing before it.  That battered shore is still widely battered.  Still groping back.  And Sandy made people look straight ahead at the risks.  At adaptation — walls, levees, stilts, berms.  And at deeper change to head off, minimize, climate change.  Up next On Point: tackling climate change, a year after Sandy.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Matthew Schuerman, editor at WNYC Radio. (@MLSchuer)

Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, co-founder of The Solutions Project. Senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment. (@MZJacobson)

Kate Gordon, vice president and director of the energy and climate program at San Francisco-based think tank Next Generation. Fellow at the Center for American Progress, executive director of Risky Business. (@katenrg)

From Tom’s Reading List

CBS News: Climate change may make coastal flooding like Sandy’s more frequent — “Warmer upper ocean temperatures, which have also come as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, are providing more fuel for the hurricanes. So, while the region might see the same types of storms, they may be more frequent and more powerful than before.”

Washington Post: We need climate-change risk assessment — “If the United States were run like a business, its board of directors would fire its financial advisers for failing to disclose the significant and material risks associated with unmitigated climate change. Managing risk is necessary for individuals, investors, businesses and governments. As individuals, we buy insurance for our homes, vehicles and health because the future is unpredictable. Businesses take similar actions and save, when they can, for the next economic downturn. Investors diversify their portfolios and hedge their bets for the same reason. And for governments, managing risk can mean anything from maintaining a standing army (in case of war) to filling a strategic petroleum reserve (to protect against severe shocks in oil prices).”

Bloomberg News: Western U.S. States, British Columbia Agree on Carbon — “The agreement falls short of creating a regional carbon market sought by California. The state began a cap-and-trade program when the U.S. government couldn’t come up with a national system in 2010. A movement to create a market across the western U.S. and parts of Canada collapsed two years ago after some states sought other ways to cut emissions”

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  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Hey Boston, let me help you with your math.

    As Cardinals approach infinity the reciprocal approaches zero but as socks of any color knows, eventually they will get thrown in the wash, fade be left hanging to dry out !

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Oh, I almost forgot : )

    • Ray in VT

      The birds might win out in the long term, but the Sox are ruling today! ;)

      • Don_B1

        They really showed their dominance in 2004, but they wanted to win at home this time, so they don’t mind that the Cards won two games. :)

        • Ray in VT

          Well, they didn’t want the Cardinals to feel too bad about themselves. ;)

          Even as a die hard fan (at least to my own way of thinking) i didn’t even realistically expect that they would even make it to the playoffs. So, as I asked one of my friends at about 11:30 last night, how many days until Spring Training?

    • jefe68

      That’s baseball. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose and it can all hinge on a few hits, pitches or errors.
      That’s the beauty of the game.

      • Ray in VT

        In this series especially it seems as though just a few at bats decided the whole thing, despite the 4-2 outcome.

        • Don_B1

          In the middle of game 5, the TV showed a graphic showing Ortiz with 10 of the 28 Red Sox hits (he ended with 2 of the 3 Red Sox home runs to just one Cardinal home run (Holliday).

          And then the great pitching by Uehara. [See: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/10/29/translating-red-sox-koji-uehara-japanese-blog/ucJ8rvZdfxAgNDy2XYxegI/story.html ]

          • Ray in VT

            Somebody asked Mike Matheny if Ortiz should be the MVP even if the Cardinals came back and took the Series. Uehara’s performance was just unreal. I thought that he would be a nice bullpen piece, but I didn’t think that he would rattle off one of the best statistical seasons ever by a pitcher. Only 1 walk since the All Star Break. It’ just unbelievable.

          • jefe68

            Good article about Uehara. He’s made some history and in the end they won the World Series and a large part of it was because of him. It is interesting to read the Japanese sportsman point of view.

            He’s right about the sport journalist in Boston, but that’s how they roll.

            A down arrow, the regressive right on this forum are such clowns.

          • Ray in VT

            It is so interesting to see the perspective that some players from other countries bring to the game. Uehara’s blaming of himself and his talk of shame certainly seems to fall in line with some of the popular perceptions of the Japanese national character. I think that he is the only Japanese major leaguer that I have seen really show a lot of emotion on the field.

    • hennorama

      Wm_James_from_Missouri — the problem with your equation is that Red Sox do not divide one, they unite all.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Wm,
      2 vs. 2
      (1946,1967) vs. (2004,2013)

      Clearly, we need a rubber match ASAP.

      2013 will go down as a classic series — like both ’46 and ’67. Many people here feel 2013 is more special than 2004 despite the 86 year drought. This is both because of last to first (could have been with the ’67 impossible dream) and Boston Strong.

  • andrewgarrett

    Unfortunately part of the problem is resistance from my fellow environmentalists. We wouldn’t be facing climate change on this scale had we used a lot more nuclear power, which compared to coal kills far fewer humans, and does far less environmental damage, because we argue about what to do with nuclear waste, instead of simply storing it in the atmosphere, as we do with coal waste.

    But environmentalists have expressed their preference for fossil fuels. Fine. So why not use cleaner fossil fuels? Now we have people who drive everywhere using oil protesting the use of natural gas, which is cleaner. If people wanted less carbon in the atmosphere they’d demand that we use more natural gas. The US is using more natural gas, which is good, but it’s odd that environmentalists aren’t happy about it.

    • northeaster17

      Dare I mention Fukushima. That little situation is getting worse. With little attention being paid. Various reports from the Pacific are alarming. Here is just one report of many and the jury is far from being out. But something appears to be up.

      http://www.activistpost.com/2013/10/something-is-killing-life-all-over.html

      • peterstaats

        This is an alarming article! Apparently anything bad that is happening in the Pacific is being caused by Fukushima. Melting sea stars, dead fish, the whole Pacific ocean dead. I am sure that any earthquake or volcano in the area will also be attributed to Fukushima.

    • nj_v2

      I know this handle is just a troll, but…

      First paragraph nonsense: Nuclear power collapsed under it’s own weight of expense and cost overruns. And still, no one has any idea what to do with the radioactive waste. Store it in the atmosphere? Okey dokee. Keep those good ideas coming. And talk to the Japanese about environmental damage.

      Second paragraph nonsense: Which environmentalists have expressed “preference for fossil fuels’? We await your documented list. And carbon is carbon, whether it comes from natural gas, coal, or oil. The issue is not which of the extracted, fossil fuels are marginally less environmentally damaging.

  • Wahoo_wa

    Same tired stories. How many climate change pieces do we really need to hear?

    • nj_v2

      Same tired denialist blather. How many ignorant rants do we really need to hear?

      • Wahoo_wa

        There was no denial in my comment…just tired of hearing the same program over and over.

        • jefe68

          Don’t listen then. It’s that easy.

        • nj_v2

          Such agony to endure. I feel your pain. Perhaps there’s a support group for you.

    • RolloMartins

      Well, seeing as civilization as we know it depends on understanding the topic, if we had news 24/7 devoted to it, that probably wouldn’t be too much.

      • Wahoo_wa

        I doubt there is anything new to report.

        • Don_B1

          It depends on what you consider “news.”

          It is unfortunately news to some that new data is reinforcing the data that climate scientists used to make their predictions of climate disaster a few years ago.

          The data show that the cost of doing nothing now will be an order of magnitude more than the cost of severely cutting CO2 emissions for energy production now, and ending them by 2050.

  • John Cedar

    If the WASHINGTON POST were run like a business…

    I wonder if there is, or every has been, a climatologist or a reporter covering climate change, who could pass a graduate level mathematics course.

    How many billionaire US vice presidents have there been?

    • Roy-in-Boise

      That is an unrealistic statement.

    • Don_B1

      How many good businessmen have also been good presidents? [Hint: NONE!]

      • jefe68

        A few presidents have been lousy businessmen though.

  • nj_v2

    Another climate-change piece, so we can expect another round of dopey, self-contractictory claims and flack from the foot-stomping denialist crowd.

    They aren’t exactly sure if it is warming; it’s only warming a bit; it’s warming, but humans don’t have much to do with it; it’s warming but it’s from sunspots; it’s warming but it’s always warmed and cooled, so what’s the big deal; it’s warming but that’s actually a good thing; it isn’t warming at all it’s just a socialist conspiracy to make us pay more for energy. Oh, and Al Gore lives in a big house.

    Also expect references to cherry-picked data about Antarctic ice growing; it being colder than usual yesterday in Moosefart Falls; no warming since 1998; grapes grew at one time in Greenland, etc.

    And it’s been warmer in the past, so why worry; a hundred years or so of recorded weather data isn’t enough data; there is no scientific consensus (there are x number of “scientists” who disagree); in the 1970s, “they” said we were in for a period of cooling; carbon dioxide actually lags temperature increases; it’s really the water vapor; etc.

    Play along, it’s fun! See how many ignorant, lame denialist “arguments” you can identify in today’s comments!

    • Wahoo_wa

      Perhaps some counseling for your anger issues would help?

    • northeaster17

      One thing is for sure. The Artic ice is melting. New commercial routes are being established and the race is on by the oligarchs to see who can claim the most oil.

      • Don_B1

        The reason that Antarctic snow is increasing is that Antarctica has been one of the driest places on earth (less than 1″ of snow/year) but the increasing amount of water vapor in the atmosphere (4% increase since 1970 in the Subtropic Zones) has provided more water vapor over Antarctica resulting in more snow as it is still a mostly well-below freezing climate.

    • William

      I can’t understand why NPR just does not follow the LATimes and not print any letters, comments etc…that deny or question man made global warming.

    • Mike

      Education is so lacking. What isn’t lacking is people jumping on the Global Warming bus. The GW or should I say Climate Change crowd are stumbling around looking for straws to grasp. Soon they will grasp the “Climate Stagnation” (CS) straw and scream that CS will be the death of us.

      • Don_B1

        And where is your fact-based evidence for your delusional rant? That is the classic pose of the denier troll: no evidence, so appeal to emotions, particularly fear of some “unknown.”

        • nj_v2

          But global warming science is a “religion” doncha know?

      • nj_v2

        Thanks, i forgot that one: The warmists changed the reference from global warming to climate change.

  • thequietkid10

    Deal with the devil hypothetical….

    Satan comes in and offers to undo hurricane Sandy and promise only one more “Sandy” over the next 30 years, in exchange, gas prices double in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. And remain this high for a generation. How many people affected by Sandy take that deal?

  • HonestDebate1

    What does Sandy have to do with climate change?

    • iccheap

      It’s only a vehicle to provide discussion on probabilistic events of this nature that are projected to increase. Regardless of the connection changing our current energy and development models is a desirable goal.

      • Don_B1

        You are absolutely correct on the desirability of more efficient energy production and use.

        But probability calculations do measure real things. All digital communications today are designed for transmission in noise where the receiver’s decision of whether a single bit (or symbol) is based not on just the energy received during that bit’s reception, but on the mutual decisions of the past n bits, where “n” depends on the amount of noise in the “channel” over which the system is designed to work.

        Climate Change was not the sole cause of Hurricane Sandy, but the warmer water in the Atlantic Ocean and the 4% more water vapor in the Subtropical atmosphere provided more energy for the storm to gather into higher winds over a larger part of the ocean and more precipitation for it to create. In other words, it almost certainly made Sandy a bigger storm than it would have been in the 1800s.

        • iccheap

          i totally agree with you. i work on ecological systems so partitioning ascribable causation is a large component of what I ultimately try to do. It’s messy, but with systems this large it’s what we are stuck with at our current level of understanding and measurement capabilities.

          • Don_B1

            I would only caution that “noiseless transmission” is something that we will never attain, whether it is communication systems or the stock market, and decisions will always have to be made without full information, thus with uncertainties.

            We will learn more and develop better approaches, but there will always be things we don’t know. Which means that we need to accept that some decisions will be wrong, but not making decisions is even worse in costs.

      • HonestDebate1

        This has been an atypically mild hurricane season.

    • nj_v2

      What do any of your comments have to do with reality?

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Nothing.
      In each of the numerous onpoints on Sandy with a climatologist guest he keeps asking the question. The answer is always NOTHING. Tom always sounds surprised at the answer.

      • Don_B1

        Kate Gordon certainly did not say that climate change had nothing to do with the strength of Hurricane Sandy.

        Refer to the third paragraph of my first post in response to iccheap earlier in this thread for more explicit details.

        Of course, there will be no response to the facts, just a repeat of your false claims.

  • John_in_Amherst

    We will be remembered as the generation that failed to act to stem environmental catastrophe. We have become Adam and Eve, who tasted knowledge that resulted in humanity being expelled from the Eden of the pre-industrialized world. What we are leaving, not just for our children, but for the rest of human history, is a world depleted of species; air, land and water fouled with our wastes; tracts of uninhabitable deserts and flooded coastlines. We are permanently wrecking the planet so that we can enjoy an unsustainably luxurious lifestyle beyond the means of the biosphere to support us.

    It is too late to avoid the death of the natural world as we know it. It is not too late to act. see: http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/10/science-says-revolt

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Our children will curse us. We are squandering the very environment we depend on – and all life to follow us will pay the price.

      There is no Planet B.

  • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

    Would anyone know why pine cones expand and contract? I think it is due to the temperature. When it is warm out then they contract. When it is cool out then they expand.

    • Wahoo_wa

      In areas that are affected by fire, pines have evolved to release their seeds in response to fire. I have not heard of pines opening due to cold temperatures but I guess it depends on the environment within which they developed their natural traits. Much like we will all evolve and change due to a changing climate. It’s simply the natural order.

    • northeaster17

      They expand to drop seeds

  • HLB

    Does America’s idea of the permanent free lunch conflict with the 2nd law of thermodynamics? So who do you “think” is going to win that smack down?

    If Mother Nature would “float” war bonds, I’d buy them.

    Thanks much. Registered Professional Engineer

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Look at the maps of the shoreline in lower Manhattan from the 1600s to today. No surprise there is no natural defense due to all the filling in of the wetlands.

  • HLB

    What Lies Beneath, an article from Vanity Fair, October 2013.
    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2013/10/new-york-city-underground-subway-danger

    About Manhattan’s continuing battle with water. Worth the look-see.

    Thanks much. Hoober Doober

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    One is not going to make wind turbines, parts, cables, conductors, controls, accessories, transportation, installation, et al — from wind farm energy. Alternative energy “strategies” can’t bootstrap themselves. And that’s why Mother Nature is laughing at the attempts to do so.

    The 2nd Law. It’s really the only one that matters.

    Thanks much. HLB

  • Yar

    As good as wind energy sounds, I doubt that it would lower storm surge significantly.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Using 100% renewable energy might lower the storm surge several thousand years from now, or it might even take a few million years to return to below 350ppm.

      We HAVE to change over to 100% renewable energy, both because fossil fuels are finite, and because burning them causes climate change.

    • Don_B1

      The earth is stuck with the effects of raising the CO2 levels of the atmosphere from well below 300 ppm to over 400 ppm, which is what has increased sea levels from melting glaciers and expanding water (both from warming) and larger storms with higher wind speeds due to the increased energy absorbable from warmer oceans and stored in higher concentrations of water vapor in the atmosphere. This will continue to increase future storm surges for at least 100 years, unless some scientific breakthrough allows the cost-effective capture of CO2 from the atmosphere and placement in a permanent storage.

      But the costs of piping CO2 to a few of the small number of sites where CO2 can be buried as a gas (in mines or caverns, etc.) would basically require the duplication of all the millions of miles of oil and gas pipelines used to ship those fuels for our current use, no inexpensive task.

      What using wind instead of fossil fuels for generating energy for our use will do is prevent even further rise in sea level and storm surges in the medium to distant future.

  • sdemetri

    The release of methane from natural gas extraction is a large negative as small amounts of methane contributes greatly to warming. The industry has itself detailed the failure of well linings releasing natural gas not only into groundwater but also the atmosphere. It has been estimated that as many as 30% of fracked wells release gas into the atmosphere or ground systems due to failure of well linings. Leakage of methane during transportation and transfer between storage facilities is another point source. If natural gas was handled and treated as dangerous as nuclear materials, perhaps the negatives could be reduced but I have little hope that would become the rule.

    • StilllHere

      How does this supposed release of methane compare to other sources?

      • Don_B1

        There is a market for methane, otherwise known as natural gas!

        But the gas companies consider the $2 BILLION / year in additional revenue they could make over the cost of capturing it to not be worth their effort!

  • Julie Christensen

    Six billion in subsidies to oil companies??? Cut them and put the money toward renewable energy and wetland restoration.

  • Mike

    Climate change? More like climate stagnation. We are having record low number of extreme events. Don’t confuse this with impact. “Sandy” wasn’t even a hurricane! More people live where storms hit so the impact is greater. If you live on the coast you will get hit by a storm – someday. If you live in the midwest – you will be affected by a tornado – someday.

    • StilllHere

      Thanks for the rational thought, often so lacking here.

      • Mike

        Kind of scary – the lack of independent, educated thought out there.

    • Don_B1

      Sandy was a hurricane which had been absorbed in a big storm crossing the country from the west and the result was something even bigger but no longer showing the characteristics of an “eye,” etc. so no longer called a “hurricane.”

      The wide sweep of surface water flow from some 900 miles east out in the Atlantic which created the record storm surge was due to the strength and breadth of the huge hurricane’s winds.

  • nj_v2

    This idea that simply substituting “renewable” energy production for fossil fuels will save our butts and continue to enable us to power a hugely wasteful infrastructure is misleading and dangerous.

    The current system wastes energy at every turn, from traffic and roadway design, settlement patterns, food production and distribution, etc. The implicit need for economic growth, dependent as it is on consumption of finite resources (other than energy) cannot continue even with “renewable” energy sources.

    And any “renewable” energy production technology has its own set of issues: Wind; birds, health issues for nearby residents, siting. Photovoltaics; limited supplies of essential, rare-earth elements, toxicity in manufacturing, relatively short lifespan of components. Tidal; issues with ocean ecology (interference with water flows, effects on fish populations, etc.).

    How we live, how we use energy, how we organize our societal systems is as or more important that simply how we generate the energy we use. Yet, this is almost never addressed in these kinds of discussions.

    • Wahoo_wa

      Last paragraph: Probably because it’s not a realistic discussion to have there angry man. Cloud cuckoo land only exists in your head.

      • jefe68

        So in your world, changing how we live with more efficient housing and developing better public transportation systems is a bad thing? Is this your premiss?

        • Wahoo_wa

          I don’t think large scale and meaningful changes in the way we live is practical or achievable in the period of time the chicken littles have determined that we have before WE HIT THE TIPPING POINT AND WE ALL DIE!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! RUN AWAY!!!! RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!

          • jefe68

            I’ll take your advise. I’ll run, not from this issue, from dolts like yourself.

          • Wahoo_wa

            Well which is it? Do we have time or dont we? If only a portion of the world (those portions that can afford to make changes in the way they live) make changes while the vast majority of the world does not what affect will that honestly have on climate change? The naivety of these discussions is just ridiculous. You may chose to run from dolts like myself but you can’t run from reality for long. Get real.

          • jefe68

            Reality? Please do tell about all your real experience with this topic. Enlighten the world with your scientific knowledge and peer reviewed articles on the subject.

            No you should get real, or not.

          • Wahoo_wa

            Time will show that man will adapt as man always has adapted. My real experience in this issue includes millenia of ancestors who preceded us all. Our mere existence on earth given the cycle of climate change is enough of a peer review for me. Go back to your flat earth, we’re all going to die fantasies if you wish.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Run away – to where?

          • Wahoo_wa

            Exactly…there’s no place to run so adapt.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Right – we adapt using our brains, and that means we all need to stop burning fossil fuels ASAP.

          • Wahoo_wa

            Again….and it’s really quite simple…large scale changes in our fuel sources that would have a serious and lasting affect on climate change are simply not practical or affordable in the time we have been told (by scientists as well as political fanatics) we need to achieve them in order to avoid the “tipping point”. Something doesn’t add up here. It seems like all of these little issues are led by people staring at their belly buttons.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            It is far more expensive to do nothing about climate change. Switching to renewable energy will pay us back many times over.

    • iccheap

      what are the “relatively short lifespan” components of solar? I have a system and the shortest lifespan of any component is the inverter and it’s warrantied to 10 years.

      you are very clearly right on how we currently live – a highly unsustainable model. Passiv solar home building should be de rigueur.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      You know what I *hate* about renewable energy?

      The smokestacks.

      The smoke.

      The smog.

      The mercury pollution.

      The cooling towers.

      The explosions.

      The spills.

      The limited fuel supply.

      The other countries that control the wind and the sun.

      The military cost to defend the wind and the sun.

      The radiation.

      The death of miners.

      The fly ash.

      The tailing ponds.

      The methane gas releases.

      The huge carbon footprint.

      The increasing cost over time.

      The inefficiency.

      The pipelines.

      The contaminated water.

      The damage to our lungs and overall health done by renewable energy is horrendous.

      The acid rain is nasty.

      The mountaintop removal.

      The carbon dioxide released.

      The waste.

      NOT really…

      We can solve the challenges of renewable energy – we have to. This is actually the EASIEST part of our response to climate change. The much harder pieces will be about food and water and ocean rise and disease, etc.

      Fossil fuels are BY DEFINITION – finite. So, not only do we need to stop using them to avoid worse climate change – but we would have to switch to renewables *anyway*.

      • nj_v2

        You know what i hate about motorized vehicles?

        The streets covered with horse excrement and urine

        Piles of rotting animal carcasses

        The stench

        The flies and the diseases they carried

        The dry-manure dust filling the air

        The pollution of water supplies from the runoff

        The expense to maintain more expensive than the earliest cars)

        The accidents and deaths from collisions and horses acting erratically

        The noise (clackity-clackity-clack x thousands of horses)

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Electric vehicles have none of those problems.

          • nj_v2

            You’re either being deliberately obtuse, or you’re missing or ignoring the point.

            The internal combustion car was widely regarded as salvation from all the problems of horse-powered transportation.

            No one foresaw the litany of issues and problems that that motorized transportation would bring; issues both concerning the fuel source, and others not really having anything directly to do with the fuel.

            Now, you seem to view the latest round of wonder technologies as wholly positive, in much the same way as proponents of cars, nuclear power, pesticides, antibiotics, etc. have done in the past.

            Any technology creates a chain or web of future effects, consequences, and results that are unknowable, unpredictable, some or many of which are possibly, likely, or certainly negative.

            The outlines of problems are already visible through the fog of unrestrained optimism. Where will the heavy metals for the batteries come from? What is the damage from the increased mining for these materials? What is the social harm to the people doing that work?

            In the case of energy technologies, the issue is compounded, since the expectation of the Techno Optimists seems to be that we will be able maintain the current wasteful, inefficient status quo of infrastructure, settlement patterns, consumption levels, etc., simply by substituting “renewable” sources for our current ones.

            Never mind that the ecological consequences of doing so extend far beyond the energy source that powers the continued destruction.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Renewable energy is by definition sustainable. And fossil fuels are by definition, finite. Burning fossil fuels is the source of a huge number of problems; including climate change.

            We have no choice but to switch to renewable energy, and we will get better at them as we go. There is waaaay more energy than we need, and it will last as long as the sun lasts – about another 5 billion years.

            We can already get enough renewable energy for all our needs – it’s just a matter of doing it. Germany and Spain and Costa Rica and Norway and other places are well on their way already, and here in the US, we are also transitioning to renewables.

            It will be a challenge, but since when has that stopped us?

            Food production is key to getting our economy going again, and to the survival of our culture. Climate change directly affects our fragile fossil fuel dependent food production system. It is not really farming, but rather it is soil and water mining.

            If we switched back to real farming – using our knowledge to significantly improve on what we had been doing for about 10,000 years before we “discovered” nitrogen
            fertilizer and the internal combustion engine, then here are all the deadly problems we would solve, by putting ourselves back into step with the cycle of life:

            * We would stop eating oil and gas, which as you and I know are finite.

            * We would let the soil come alive again — it decomposes the stuff of life and makes it available for growing new life, building and improving the soil making it better and deeper and sequestering carbon rather
            than mining it, eroding it, and poisoning our waterways.

            * We would cut about 25% of our greenhouse gas output from the crappy-water-soluble-nitrogen-to-nitrous-oxide-nightmare, that also includes dead rivers and dead fishing zones along the way.

            * Local food production not only means far less oil burned transporting food around the world (the average food item travels 1,500 miles to your mouth!), but it also means far more nutritious, much better tasting food that makes us all much healthier — we probably would see cancer
            rates go down, too!

            * We would totally solve both our immigration problems and our unemployment problems at the same time. And we would make big dents into our drug problem, our prison problem, our hunger problems, and our decaying civil society would be renewing its way back
            to health.

            Wes Jackson proposes that we move to 80% perennial agriculture within the next 50 years. We need to listen to the wisdom
            among us if we want to solve our major problems.

            We have a sustainable abundance of renewable energy — up to 16X more energy than the needs of the entire world. Everybody can have as much electricity as they need — and all that economic activity supports all our local economies.

            Since renewable energy is available everywhere, to any and all people — then
            the need for a military largely goes away. Since living soils store water much more readily than dead soil, we stop needing to use up our fossil water supply.

            We simply must do as nature does — we must have zero waste. Waste means that we are not doing it right: no disposable plastic, no disposable people, no disposable land, no disposable species.

  • Mike

    We also now build more homes where the landscape has always burned.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Rapid population decline in advanced western societies* is the only “strategy” that will have any long term positive impact on the planet. Holding down immigration will have to be imposed to prevent new producers of huge carbon footprints.

    Ideas about sharing the food, being kind to one another, smart energy, green products, renew this, renew that, bobbing cork generators, hoopdedoole.. it’s all just wishful “thinking.”

    Thanks much. Hoober Doober

    * The monster carbon dioxide producers. Then the problem becomes how do you massively bury the rotting carbon logs {humans} so they don’t release their products (carbon, methane, water vapor, toxins) to the atmosphere.

    • nj_v2

      More people > more jobs > more growth > more consumption > more energy use > more tail chasing for “sustainable” solutions

      Living as we are, the byproducts of our existence exceed the ability of the planet to accommodate/absorb them.

  • Mike

    Like I said, people live in areas where storms hit. We need to stop encouraging that and supporting this practice.

  • Labropotes

    I recommend the Do The Math blog’s long series on the feasibility of various alternatives to carbon based energy. This is a link to the summery that finalized about 10 extensive posts on the subject. The author is a physics professor at UCSD.

    He concludes that there are possible alternatives, but the cost will force a dramatic reduction in energy consumption, which means consumption, period.

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/02/the-alternative-energy-matrix/

  • Lee_on_Norfolk

    Carbon emissions increase climate change. Most of the carbon emissions in cities are from buildings. In Cambridge MA, citizens proposed that new large buildings should reduce their emissions and buy only renewable energy, in what would be the country’s first Net Zero Carbon Emissions zoning. The City Council is discussing this proposal and has established a task force to research it.

    Since we have gridlock in DC, states and cities need to do all they can to fight climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

    Supporting solar energy on residential and commercial rooftops in the city is also important. With my new rooftop solar panels, my super-insulated house now produces more electricity than it consumes- and with a 4 year payback!!!

  • Angelique LaCour

    Re: Louisiana politics and holding Big Oil responsible–the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority, which formed following Katrina to take the politics out of flood protection, filed a lawsuit in August against almost 100 oil and gas companies–see http://jonesswanson.com/practice-areas/southeast-louisiana-flood-protection-authority-east-case/. The Jindal Administration has stepped in to stop the suit, and in the next session the LA Legislature will probably pass legislation to that end. LA politicians are all owned and operated by Big Oil and that will never change.

  • AJNorth

    Three inarguable facts:

    1. In less than an hour, the Earth receives from the Sun (at ground level) more energy than the entire human race consumes in a year. Most of this falls as thermal energy, with a substantial fraction able to produce photo-electrons (electric currents) directly. The thermal energy (heat) can be collected and used to generate electric power much as it is generated by burning carbon (or uranium or plutonium), as heat is agnostic. The heat can be stored such that electric generation can continue seamlessly when the Sun isn’t shining (much useful thermal energy can still be collected in dead winter under cloudy skies — http://phys.org/news/2013-10-arizona-solar-hours-sun.html .

    2. A 2008 NERL study shows that off-shore wind generation can produce approximately four times the total energy needs of the U.S.; adding additional terrestrial capacity would significantly reduce transmission losses and add reliability through redundancy (as well as additional excess capacity) — http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/45889.pdf .

    3. As a 2006 study by MIT for the DOE showed, we can supply many hundreds of times the total U.S. energy demand from geothermal-sourced energy — http://mitei.mit.edu/publications/reports-studies/future-geothermal-energy.

    To these can be added OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion), tide-created energy and other technologies all of which are clean, safe, reliable — and every one of which harnesses energy that has a ZERO source-cost and which will be available to us, literally, for as long as we can inhabit this planet. Interconnected distributed generation can provide unparallelled reliability, and ultimately lowest cost.

    This only addresses the capacity (generation) side of the energy equation; we have a VERY large distance to travel to reduce demand through increased efficiency — which will further reduce energy costs.

    Why have we not moved with rapid dispatch toward a sustainable, reliable, clean, safe — and ultimately far more economical — energy infrastructure? Simply stated, it is greed (along with petulance on the part of people who reject science, holding world views often derived from the writings of superstitious, frightened and ignorant people who believed that the Earth was flat.)

    • nj_v2

      Did any of the studies address any of the unintentional, unanticipated, negative consequences of these new technologies?

      Techno, silver bullets of energy production will not save an unsustainable system.

      • AJNorth

        These systems, by definition, and in fact, ARE sustainable — THAT is the point.

        The links are there for you to read these publications for yourself; a web search will provide vast additional amounts of ancillary information (please restrict yourself to articles written by people with recognized credentials in their fields, published at respected refereed scientific and technical sites).

        • nj_v2

          Theoretical, technical studies of feasibility do not address ecology concerns of actual installations on a scale necessary to produce the eventual amounts of energy these systems are hoped to produce.

          As with all technology, only the benefits are touted in the initial stages.

      • fun bobby

        if we had a moon base that could easily supply all the energy needs of mankind

        • nj_v2

          I didn’t know we could burn blue cheese.

          • fun bobby

            what you don’t know….

          • nj_v2

            I have some green cheese in my frig. Maybe i can start up my own power plant.

          • fun bobby

            if you had a fridge full of h3 like is on the moon you could

    • warryer

      Tell me. Are any of these technologies economically viable? What about the manufacture of all these systems? Why poo poo nuclear systems? Thorium and heavy water systems show great promise.

      All that wind you harvest from wind turbines is going to affect the climate in ways we don’t understand. All that harvested sunlight and extracted heat from the earth will do the same. People already complain about earthquakes caused by fracking… cooling the earth is going to do the same.

      • AJNorth

        Yes, they are; please read the studies and do web searches as described below.

        Nuclear fission involves materials that are, by their very nature, very dangerous over eons of time; concentrating, then transporting, them (with a great deal of handling) releases more and more of these substances into the environment.

        As far as affecting the Earth as a whole by capturing, storing and redistributing a tiny fraction of an already present hugely abundant amount of energy, doing so would create an almost imperceptible “blip” on a global scale; we are already do far worse by adding large amounts of energy to the mix from sources long stored — such as the “heat island” effects seen in cities across the globe.

        • warryer

          4 times the energy needs means we need to capture 25% of the wind available… and that is assuming 100% efficient wind turbines (unrealistic). And of course assuming 100% efficient transmission. With the Betz limit we can at best achieve 59.3% efficiency through wind.

          The current state of the art wind turbine achieve about 44%.

          We would have to capture 1/2 of all the wind that blows off shore. What kind of environmental impact will this have? How much would it cost to set up something like this?

          And speaking to solar; it is not currently economically viable to derive our energy from this medium. Manufacturing costs. Though in the future as it get better i can see more usage. Though not as much as you’d think because the energy density just isn’t there.

          Established energy is just all around cheaper. Cost in itself is a measure of efficiency. The more efficient an item the cheaper it will be.

    • hennorama

      AJNorth — As is true in politics, there are no “inarguable facts” in this forum.

  • Lee_on_Norfolk

    Building on the coast was a big part of the problem, but as the show stated, Sandy caused 20 foot waves on the great lakes and killed people all along its path. My brother in law in VT was cut off by the huge floods they had a couple of years ago- floods like they had never seen in their lifetimes.

    • Don_B1

      Absolutely!

      The huge amount of rain (6″ to 12″ in a few hours) due to the remnants of Hurricane Irene was aided and abetted by the increased water vapor in the atmosphere due to global warming, the driver of climate change.

  • Don

    I was on hold. Here’s what I would’ve said:
    As a climate and energy educator, I’ve been rubbing my nose in the energy system for a long time and it all stinks. We’re paying increasing attention to what energy sources we’re using but not nearly enough attention to how much energy we use.

    • StilllHere

      Conservation has no interest group to support it.

      • jefe68

        Troll alert!

      • fun bobby

        nonsense, hunters and sportsman are all fervent conservationists, all these hippy tree huggers do not put their money where their mouth is but hunters pay the bills to keep the wilderness wild.

        • Labropotes

          I think he meant energy conservation.

          • fun bobby

            in that case he is right. every increase in “efficiency” leads to increased energy use

    • iccheap

      yes, deal with the easy, low hanging fruit and work your way up the metaphorical ladder. We built our house in that manner and capped it with a 3.8 KW solar system that has provided ~70% of our home energy budget and that is with a geo unit providing all our heating/cooling. It can be done by middle class families if viewed as a long term goal and prioritized as such. Two years running and I haven’t had a utility bill over $100 (no gas bills, except for cooking), our average would be ~$40/month.

      • StilllHere

        Where are you? What is the upfront investment? What sort of maintenance is required? thanks

        • iccheap

          Hi,

          I live in the upper Midwest. Around latitude 43.3. My system ran me ~20K for the PV solar and ~25K for the geothermal. This was new house construction, so the geo was only ~15K more than high efficiency nat gas furnace. Those costs are prior to fed subsidies, which are 30% (til 2016, I think). My state now has a 15% subsidy, but that didn’t exist when I installed my system. You may be familiar with this site, but, if not, it’s helpful http://www.dsireusa.org/. So, bottom line is my out of pocket expenses were ~14K for PV, ~17-18K for geo. There is NO maintenance for my PV system. I do change the angle twice/year to maximize energy production. If it were really dusty and we’d had no rain I’d spray the panels to keep them clean, but I haven’t done that either. I should add we have closed cell foam insulation, LED lights, and a HRV unit. As to the geothermal unit, there is no maintenance for it either, beyond routine blower/filter maintenance. I’ll die in this house, so my period of return is infinite from my perspective ;-). I am happy to address any other questions you may have. My system has produced as much as 25KW/day, but winter production is lower.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Geo sounds great for the long term but what I found is you can’t get a ‘deterministic’ quote up front because the drilling costs are highly variable. Was that an issue for you?

            Did you go with open loop or closed?

          • iccheap

            My situation was a bit different because it was new construction. In addition, we were able to incorporate all the duct work cost in my system cost, so it was subsidized a bit more than an existing system might be. Plus there wasn’t an existing home structure to deal with. I’ll state up front I am NO expert, this is only our experience. I have a relatively large piece of property (1.5 acres) so we were able to do lateral lines (closed loop). I believe they are ~5′ below ground level. They used a lateral borer to install them.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Interesting. I know of one horizontal system placed in the bottom of a pond here. Also, there was a commercial system placed under a asphalt parking lot.

            I think most systems here in New England are done with deep vertical wells that tap into a water resource so both the depth and number of wells required are variable (similar to artesian wells). It seems that a horizontal system would be more deterministic unless you have issues with ledge or rock.

          • iccheap

            We only had to deal with soil, which has an ambient temp of 55 F year round in this area.

            I should add the footprint of the house was roughly the equivalent footprint of the loops, based on what our installer told me. Summer cooling is incredibly efficient as the loops come back in at 55 and don’t need anything done other than air blown over the exchanger, unlike in the winter when it’s necessary for the compressor to extract “heat”. All things considered I love the system.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Sounds great. Does your cooling system also remove humidity?

          • iccheap

            great question, i assume so – not sure exactly how it is structured on the unit. we do have a heat recovery ventilation system. our house is very tight, so it exchanges the air at some regular interval. i’m going to have to figure out how the whole humidity regulation works, now that you’ve asked, it’s something i should know.

  • StilllHere

    Isn’t it true that shutting down the government would solve climate change? Can we afford not to try it?

    • jefe68

      Dolt.

    • Labropotes

      No, that won’t work. But neither will asking the government to address the issue. When the president’s and congress’s oversight can’t guide the implementation of ACA with success or accountability, how can one expect success or accountability when the proof of success or failure is 20, 30 or more years off. That’s why I take the side of the doomsayers.

      • StilllHere

        It seems the only success we are having is by taking automated actions with little opportunity for the distraction of pet-project protectionism. The sequester is working, though not as efficient as it could be. Shutdown, while not ideal, seems like it solves a lot of problems.

    • northeaster17

      Then once again we’d have to listen to all those complaints about memorials being closed down.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Ah, but in a real shutdown there would be no government to shut down the memorials.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          It costs money to shut down the government, and it costs money for it to be closed, and it costs money to open it back up again.

    • nj_v2

      The first-string trolls have arrived. The minor-leagers can take a break now.

      • fun bobby

        so you consider yourself “first string”?

      • jefe68

        The regressive right wing vaudeville show.
        Watch them juggle memes and diatribes while doing the polka.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Strange. The ‘guests’ fear CO2 emissions yet there is no mention of the only scalable, affordable carbon free technology available today: nuclear.

    It will only get better with nuclear too. New advancements in thorium, LFTR, SMR, IFR and even fusion are very encouraging.

    Unfortunately, the regulatory environment in the US has pushed most of the companies to start out overseas.

    • nj_v2

      And i’ll bet all that new nuke energy will be too cheap to meter!

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        No, but some should be as cheap or cheaper than coal. There is one startup in New Jersey that is developing a fusion technology that (if they can get it to work) will be an order of magnitude cheaper (.1cent/kwh) . That would be a true game changer.

        http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/10/brian-wang-interviewed-by-motherboard.html#more

        • fun bobby

          the price of coal is so low right now someone is going to have to buy it

        • nj_v2

          [[ if they can get it to work ]]

          Haha!

          Maybe they’ll be able to teleport the energy to my house without any wires, too. Keep us posted.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Actually what LPP has done is quite amazing on such a small budget.

    • northeaster17

      Fukushima is in the process of spoiling your parade.

  • John_in_Amherst

    Why are Americans so reluctant to accept climate change? Look no further than FOX. The Murdoch media empire has not only dumbed down politics throughout the English speaking world, it is actively working against the best interests of the human race.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/aug/08/global-warming-denial-fox-news

    From this piece: “…conservative media consumption (specifically Fox News and Rush Limbaugh) decreases viewer trust in scientists, which in turn decreases belief that global warming is happening….
    …..conservative media creates distrust in scientists through five main methods:

    1) Presenting contrarian scientists as “objective” experts while presenting mainstream scientists as self-interested or biased.
    2) Denigrating scientific institutions and peer-reviewed journals.
    3) Equating peer-reviewed research with a politically liberal opinion.
    4) Accusing climate scientists of manipulating data to fund research projects.
    5) Characterizing climate science as a religion….”

    • WorriedfortheCountry
      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Anthony Watts has zero credibility on this.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          The cartoonists name is Josh, not Watts.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Anthony Watts runs that webpage.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            So what? Josh created the cartoon parody not Watts.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            He has zero credibility on the subject of climate change. Bringing him in means you lose the argument.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I didn’t “bring him in”. I brought Josh “in”.

          • sdemetri

            The Feynman quote cost you nothing and proved nothing. The logic and argument of climate science, at least one hundred years old, presents a credible argument. A single MIT prof with denialist tendencies, or a cartoonist, proves nothing.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Those who claim that the science is ‘settled’ are the ones in denial.

            And no, the AGW alarmism based on flawed computer models has not been around for a hundred years. But nice try.

            It is fairly clear that the more science is advanced they realize how little they actual know.

          • sdemetri

            Who said anything about “settled?”

            One hundred years of research trumps a quick dismissal of the current status of that research. Nice try indeed.

            Scientific method generally precludes calling most lines of research “settled.”

          • sdemetri

            I don’t really see how the cartoon is a parody of the IPCC. For example, the 97% of scientists that concur with the view that humans are contributing to climate change do so based on their expert opinions presumably, and the empirical results of their research. That those opinions and results are peer reviewed is not “argumentum ad populum.” The consensus is not a logical fallacy, but quite logical given their results. The consensus doesn’t follow the group think but the results. A better example of the logical fallacy is when a single denier is pointed to and trumped on, say, Fox News as the definitive denier and millions parrot that “news.”

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            First, recognize that the IPCC is a political organization.

            “the 97% of scientists that concur with the view that humans are contributing to climate change”. The 97% number (if accurate) says nothing about their support climate alarmism, the amount of human caused warming or actions that should be taken.

            What cannot be disputed is 17 years of no warming while CO2 emissions have not increased. What is ‘surprising’ is the most alarmist in the climate community don’t even consider that the CO2 warming hypothesis could be wrong but instead look for other explanations like heat hiding in the deep oceans.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            What is your proof of your claim that the IPCC is a political organization?

            Your canard of no warming in 17 years has been debunked, and it is indicative of a lack of understanding of climate long term trends.

            I call BS.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Look who runs the IPCC — a railroad engineer.

            “‘Scientific’ American may regret taking their recent opinion poll on the state of climate science given the eye-opening results cast by their “scientifically literate” readership. With a total of 5190 respondents, a consensus of 81.3% think the IPCC is “a corrupt organization, prone to group-think, with a political agenda””

            http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/11/scientific-american-poll-81-think-ipcc.html

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Is that all you got?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Neil,

            Try and keep an open mind.

            Read this essay from Prof. Judith Curry. She appears to be an honest broker and she is quite concerned.

            “The IPCC’s ‘inconvenient truth’”

            “Scientists do not need to be consensual to be authoritative. Authority rests in the credibility of the arguments, which must include explicit
            reflection on uncertainties, ambiguities and areas of ignorance and more
            openness for dissent. I have recommended that the scientific consensus seeking process be abandoned in favor of a more traditional review that presents arguments for and against, discusses the uncertainties, and speculates on the known and unknown unknowns.”

            http://judithcurry.com/2013/09/20/the-ipccs-inconvenient-truth/

            More here:
            “Climate consensus ‘skewing’ science”

            http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/climate-consensus-skewing-science/story-e6frg6xf-1226724080490

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            My mind is wide open, but I also use my brain. Judith Curry is an outlier.

            What does Brian Cox say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What does David Attenborough say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What does Neil DeGrasse Tyson say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What does Bill Nye say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What does Jane Goodall say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What does Michio Kaku say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What did Carl Sagan say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What does Richard Dawkins say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What does Vandana Shiva say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What does Steven Hawking say about anthropogenic climate change?

            What does Craig Venter say about anthropogenic climate change?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            LOL!!!

            How long has Carl Sagan been dead? Billions and billions….

            I offer some sensible comments by Judith Curry an actual climate scientist and you offer….what? The monkey lady? Are any of these people climate scientists?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard
          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Dismiss them out of hand?

            No. It depends on what they say.

          • nj_v2

            In all your posts from conservo-horsecrap sources, you’ve yet to post any bit of serious science from any established, peer-reviewed scientific journal. Not that you would even know what one was.

            Pretty sad, even for a troll of your stature.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Again you attack where the message is posted instead of addressing the message. Typical Alinsky technique. You’ve been trained well.

            Take up your argument with Scientific American readers.

          • jefe68

            You’re waisting your time with this rube.

          • sdemetri

            I don’t reckon I will convince you of much but knowing that work has been done in many different and diverse areas of research and the results of these different lines all lend support to anthropogenic warming I tend to agree with this consensus. I have a degree in chemistry for what it’s worth. It informs me on process and results.

            17 yrs of no warming…? The arctic ice cap is at its lowest ebb. I really have no idea what you are talking about.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Well, ya see – when someone with zero credibility publishes something – it erases any credibility of what is published. And when you bring up something that is from a webpage with zero credibility – it rubs off on you, too.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      I ran across these quotes yesterday.

      The reason for so much bad science is not that talent is rare, not at all; what is rare is character. People are not honest, they don’t admit their ignorance, and that is why they write such nonsense. — Sigmund Freud

      Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves. — T.S. Eliot

      You should, in science, believe logic and arguments,carefully drawn, and not authorities.—Richard Feynman

      • Mike

        Good points. Perhaps the GW / CC band wagon will eventually see the light. Their argument is sinking fast…

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Don’t have to be partisan to be wary of the massive effect that bias has in research.

      http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/12/13/101213fa_fact_lehrer?printable=true&currentPage=all

      There is no shame in being skeptical when it comes to very “hot” topics.

      http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

  • Don_B1

    Calling someone a denialist is legitimate when the denial is based on things ephemeral, i.e., not based on facts, but just some whim or wish, or, probably true in many or even most cases, just because that someone dislikes the implications of the facts derived from the research around the issue.

    A clear example is the way cigarette manufacturers denied that cigarette smoking caused cancer, because it meant the end of their companies, not because they could disprove the science showing that smoking cigarettes caused lung and other cancers in many people.

    And that is why the climate change deniers fight the fact that 97% of climate researchers agree that CO2 emissions are the prime cause of climate change warming, and gloss over the fact that the few climate researchers who disagree have not published in a peer-reviewed journal any articles contradicting that fact.

    Any scientist would be thrilled to be able to show that climate change did not threaten disaster on a huge scale as they could undoubtedly win a Nobel Prize just for starters. And all climate scientists wish that their research did not lead to such horrific conclusions; they do not like to be the messengers of disaster, and are largely unprepared to navigate the nasty politics that opposes that message.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Climate change increased the effects of the storm. What we do about the damage in the short term should acknowledge the long term reality of climate change.

    If we do nothing to reduce our use of fossil fuels to zero – then we will cause the ocean to rise for centuries, if not millenniums.

  • fun bobby

    in a related story I was disappointed with the “American blackout” movie. seemed overly optimistic

  • fun bobby

    once again the discussion of alternative fuels neglects the best one: Hemp. it could help stem climate change at the same time as helping rebuild America’s economy and soil.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      There are lots of biofuels – methane from sewage and farm waste, and jatropha ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jatropha ) and many others.

      Hemp is a great material, you’re right. And we need to use it for all it’s myriad purposes. Though energy production seems like it might be less important than some other uses.

      • fun bobby

        right now it is far too valuable because of a shortage created by prohibition. the Canadians are making a killing. fuel can be made from the non-fiber non-oil non-flower part of the plant and of course the oil can be used as moter fuel unadulterated but that is valuable stuff. we could replace all of our petroleum products with hemp

  • Don_B1

    The New York Times Magazine published the story of how an even more massive flooding of the NYC subway system by Sandy’s storm surge was avoided:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/magazine/could-new-york-city-subways-survive-another-hurricane.html

  • fun bobby

    it seems unlikely we will ever get humanity together to “stop climate change”. it will change with or without us. the weather is what we are really concerned about anyways and that we can change and control.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    One of the guests was promoting off shore wind as a panacea. I have no idea if his claims of significantly reducing storm surge are accurate. His proposal seems preposterous on many levels. What if the ‘storm’ wiped out the wind farm? We’d be without power for months. Think of the economic impact.

    One thing we do know is offshore wind is cost prohibitive. How do we know? We have the specifics of the Cape Wind/National Grid contract in Massachusetts. $.18+/kwh in year one and increasing every year for 15 years to $.35/kwh. The average wholesale electric costs on the New England grid in 2012 was $.036/kwh.

    • nj_v2

      What do you think fossil-fuel energy is going to cost as supplies dwindle and only the harder-to-extract (and process) stuff is left?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        OK, you’ve decided to ignore the obvious problem with putting all our eggs in one basket problem with the proposal to convert all Northeast power to offshore wind as proposed by Mark Jacobson.

        I am all for renewables and a diverse energy portfolio but without artificially causing economic destruction. IF fossil fuel costs increase then alternatives will increase market share. It is already happening.

        • nj_v2

          Except that it doesn’t work to wait until fossil fuel economics blows up to begin to build an alternative infrastructure.

          When a big ship is heading for an iceberg, you can’t wait until the last minute to turn it.

          Plus, the current economics of fossil fuel use, with so many of the externalized costs not reflected in the price to the end user, and with massive government subsidies, distorts any comparison to renewable sources.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            You have it completely backwards. The subsidies are predominately going to renewables when measured $/J.

            Again, diversity is our friend. We really have had no coherent energy policy since the ’73 oil embargo. We should have policies to encourage flexible fuels choices (like methanol) and CNG vehicles. Also, we should have been advancing nuclear technologies like IFR and LFTR instead of putting everything into the ITER fusion boondoggle.

            Despite horrible choices (like corn ethanol mandates) there is reason to be optimistic. It is just taking longer than needed. Also, the fracking and tight oil revolution saved our bacon.

          • nj_v2

            Subsidy per energy unit produced is irrelevant. There is absolutely no reason for the public to subsidize a mature, highly profitable industry, except, perhaps to maintain the politics/industry prost*tute/p*mp relationship of the current system.

            And nukes simply couldn’t survive without public subsidy.

            And you conveniently ignore the issue of externalized costs of fossil fuel energy, which skew any comparison of economic comparisons to renewables.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I completely agree about subsidies for all industries. Although a tax deduction that can be used by any business is not ‘special’ treatment. By all objective measures wind is ‘mature’. Nukes are not ‘subsidizes’ but are over-regulated. They paid for Yucca Mt. and then had it yanked by politics.

          • nj_v2

            [[ Nukes are not 'subsidizes' but are over-regulated. ]]

            Try as one will, the problem with trying to have a reasoned discussion with our right-wing “friends” is that it takes so much effort simply to overcome rampant ignorance.

            Nuclear power plants cannot buy private insurance sufficient to fully cover possible failures. The government (all of us) provide this via the Price Anderson Act.

            Enjoy your useless opinions from your little bubble of ignorance.

  • nj_v2

    You might have a point if you could show me a significant post that any of the warming denialists skeptics has made in this forum that’s based on accepted science.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Don’t have to be partisan to be wary of the massive effect that bias has in research.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/12/13/101213fa_fact_lehrer?printable=true&currentPage=all

    There is no shame in being skeptical when it comes to very “hot” topics.

    http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

    Note I am not saying anything about global warming research and whether it is happening, but just pointing out that human emotions are very difficult to extract from what we choose to study, how we view the results, and what results we share. Its a huge problem today.

    • OnPointComments

      MIT Climate Scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen Rips UN IPCC Report
      http://www.climatedepot.com/2013/09/28/mit-climate-scientist-dr-richard-lindzen-rips-un-ipcc-report-the-latest-ipcc-report-has-truly-sunk-to-level-of-hilarious-incoherence-it-is-quite-amazing-to-see-the-contortions-the-ipcc-has/

      “The latest IPCC report has truly sunk to level of hilarious incoherence. — They are proclaiming increased confidence in their models as the discrepancies between their models and observations increase. It is quite amazing to see the contortions the IPCC has to go through in order to keep the international climate agenda going.”

    • OnPointComments

      From Dr. Richard Lindzen, atmospherics physicist and the Alford P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fall 2013:

      Science in the Public Square:
      Global Climate Alarmism and Historical Precedents

      “Global climate alarmism has been costly to society, and it has the potential to be vastly more costly. It has also been damaging to science, as scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions.

      “Global Warming has become a religion. A surprisingly large number of people seem to have concluded that all that gives meaning to their lives is the belief that they are saving the planet by paying attention to their carbon footprint.

      “…the cracks in the scientific claims for catastrophic warming are, I think, becoming much harder for the supporters to defend…one can only hope that some path will emerge that will end the present irrational obsession with climate and carbon footprints.”

      http://www.jpands.org/vol18no3/lindzen.pdf

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        “Global Warming has become a religion.”

        John_in_Amherst thinks Dr. Lindzen gets his info from Rupert Murdoch and Rush.

        • OnPointComments

          I wonder how he feels about former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson…

          Climate change: this is not science – it’s mumbo jumbo
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10340408/Climate-change-this-is-not-science-its-mumbo-jumbo.html

          “There is, however, one uncomfortable fact that the new report has been – very reluctantly – obliged to come to terms with. That is that global warming appears to have ceased: there has been no increase in officially recorded global mean temperature for the past 15 years. This is brushed aside as a temporary blip, and they suggest that the warming may still have happened, but instead of happening on the Earth’s surface it may have occurred for the time being in the (very cold) ocean depths – of which, incidentally, there is no serious empirical evidence.”

          • Sy2502

            Love it, a 15 year lull in warming is just a temporary blip, but a 1 time event like Hurricane Sandy is proof of climate change.

          • nj_v2

            Yep, a conservative financial journalist/politician with no formal training or credentials in any kind of science, let alone climate science, is the first place i go for an informed opinion on the topic.

      • nj_v2

        [[ The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is a politically conservative non-profit association founded in 1943 to "fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine." ]]

        Fringe opinion printed in a fringe “journal.”

        If 98% of all doctors say, “You have ABC disease, and you should do XYZ to treat it.” and 2% of doctors say, “No, it’s not a disease, and you shouldn’t do anything.” which advice would a sensible person heed?

  • OnPointComments

    I’m as afraid of climate change (or global warming, or whatever else they want to call it) as I am of the ghosts and goblins that will ring my doorbell tonight. Hey, maybe that’s why WBUR had this show on Halloween, all the scary things that aren’t real.

    • OnPointComments

      Clarification: Al Gore is real, and his carbon buttprint is huge.

      • nj_v2

        Another sad victim of GDS*. Please seek treatment.

        Al Gore! Booga booga!

        *Gore Derangement Syndrome

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    Rent Seeking a good topic for review.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking

  • Dave Scott

    If the wind turbine companies ever hope to significantly increase market share they are going to have to reengineer these devices to be quiet. There is one near the shore of Sandusky, Ohio that is irritatingly LOUD even several hundred yards away. And in the 1000islands there is a group fighting the industry for this very reason: the turbines are simply too loud.

    • OnPointComments

      There are numerous problems with wind energy.

      About a year ago, I heard a wind energy proponent being interviewed. He made the statement that US wind energy production had doubled. After some probing questions, he finally admitted that the doubling had taken wind energy production from 1% to 2% of US energy. And it only cost $55 billion dollars.

      All the lunatic environmentalists go apoplectic every time a bird is killed in an oil spill. Yet when wind turbines kill 1.4 million birds and bats every year, they fall silent.

      • iccheap

        wind can be a very good local option. it generates fully 20% of Iowa’s needs. As to avian mortality 25-50% of bird mortality is a result of window/building collisions, whereas .01-.02% of mortality occurs from windmills. For background there are estimated to be 200-500 million deaths/year.

        Price is ~2 million/MW for construction – comparable with 2008 coal plant costs.
        http://www.synapse-energy.com/Downloads/SynapsePaper.2008-07.0.Coal-Plant-Construction-Costs.A0021.pdf

        • OnPointComments

          From Jim Wiegand, Vice President USA, Save the Eagles International:

          In a few short years the wind industry will be killing at least a 1000-1500 eagles a year in the United States. This number will include several hundred bald eagles. This species does not fly into windows and they are not being killed by other energy sources. THE WIND INDUSTRY IS KILLING THEM. I just uncovered evidence of a major population decline in the golden eagle population over a several thousand square mile region. This is only the beginning. Eagle populations are being decimated because they can not withstand the wind industry mortality. Today the wind industry is the number one killer of golden eagles in California. Thousands of dead eagles have also gone unreported because this industry has been hiding behind their bogus studies, and agency collusion since the early 1980′s.

          The plight of the Whooping Cranes is a perfect example of this corruption. More than 100 were lost the last year and this endangered species will be gone within 5 years. This is due to the thousands of turbines have recently been stuffed into their flyway. In a few years there will be so many turbines with so much rotor sweep in their habitat, it will be impossible for them to survive. The turnover in the population will be too great as the population loses its breeders. Yet only a few short years ago they were increasing in numbers each year.

          The USFWS is aware of all this, especially in light of their newly adopted USFWS methodology of “estimating” Whooping Crane numbers. The new USFWS methodology was put in place so the declining Whopping Crane population could be exaggerated. Only 192 were counted this year but their population is now being estimated 27% higher at 245.

          But the public has heard nothing of this and you probably never will. The official blame for their demise will be some disease like botulism, bad weather or some other made up tale. When this does happen a lot of hoopla will be made about how the USFWS is going to revive the population from their “contrived” catastrophe. Politicians will step in for the good publicity and plenty of money will be allocated for the production of bogus studies and for the care of these refugees.

          • iccheap

            Thanks for your response. We aren’t on different sides of this debate. I realize certain subsets of Aves may be disproportionately affected by wind. That is where we need to target strategies, or clearly understand turbine placement effects. I am an ecologist myself, so I do understand the interplay of multiple factors affecting populations. I should also note that over the course of my years of research I have worked with some extraordinarily passionate USFWS biologists. I don’t know about organizational conspiracies, but the staff/researchers I’ve worked with are strong advocates of ecological integrity. We should be able to develop our renewable portfolio and protect our natural heritage – here’s to our success in doing so.

      • nj_v2

        As if what your “heard” is worth a bucket of spit.

        It’s funny how all of a sudden, the right-wing regressives now care about wildlife.

        Bird kills are significant, but different designs can mitigate the damage.

        In context, it’s about 400 times less than the number that die from feral cat predation.

        Compare to a billion bird deaths from collisions with windows.

        • OnPointComments

          Let’s count the number of golden eagles and other raptors, whooping cranes, and bats that die from feral cat predation and collisions with windows. The answer? Zero. There, that didn’t take long.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          The number one cause of death in birds is – feral cats.

          The number two killer of birds is – buildings.

          I’m pretty sure that mercury and other pollution kills orders of magnitude more birds (and many other species, including humans) than win turbines.

          • nj_v2

            The data i saw had those two causes (windows, cats) reversed from what you indicate.

            http://www.sibleyguides.com/conservation/causes-of-bird-mortality/

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Right – which ever way it is, wind turbines don’t even make a statistical blip on the death of birds. And, if that is the worst problem caused by wind turbines, I’m sure we can solve it.

            Smoke stacks and oil spills and tar sands and radiation leaks and fracking water kill all sorts of things.

        • ExcellentNews

          Come on guys, OnPointComments is probably a paid shill for some PAC judging form the quantity and “quality” of his output. Either that, or Mitt Romney is taking his forced retirement really badly…

    • fun bobby

      I find them unsightly as well. the small ones are less offensive but the large ones are ugly monoliths

      • anamaria23

        I think they are beautiful in themselves and a testament to what mankind can achieve.
        Before we tear down all the windmills, let’s work on making them better—more quiet, more bird friendly. The National Fish and Wildlife is studying this presently as is the wind industry itself.

        • fun bobby

          do you have one in your yard yet?

          • anamaria23

            Not quite, but I walk a few feet out of my house and there it is against the horizon less than a mile away.
            It is providing some power to a small segment of town.
            There are, however, complaints of illness from it and a law suit against it pending from a small group.
            It may not succeed in it’s current location,
            studied though it was.

          • fun bobby

            is it actually turning right now?

          • anamaria23

            It doesn’t glow in the dark.

          • fun bobby

            if you lived closer you could hear if it was running

      • nj_v2

        There’s another effect that i haven’t seen mentioned anywhere.

        Every so often, i drive by a couple of windmill installations. Some are quite near the highway.

        It took a few minutes each time after driving past them a couple of t imes to realize what was happening, but i found myself oddly compelled to stare at them as they were turning. I kind of had to will myself not to gaze at them. I don’t know if it’s just me, or if there’s some kind of general hypnotic element involved.

        I see people referring to this effect poetically, but it occurred to me that this could actually be somewhat dangerous for drivers. Maybe no more so that people reading billboards, but at least those are static. Something about the motion makes it harder to ignore. (Sorry, officer, it was the windmill.)

        • fun bobby

          luckily most of the time they don’t spin at all

    • OnPointComments

      My favorite quote about wind farms:

      “But don’t you realize — that’s where I sail!” –Senator Ted Kennedy about building the Cape Wind farm

      Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote an op-ed in the NYT opposing the Cape Wind project. Liberals always get so upset when they discover that one of their pet endeavors will affect the elites and not just the unwashed masses.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Show us these loud turbines, please!

      • Dave Scott

        Neil, Here are the two pictures I took of the loud wind turbine and the company info.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          I’ve stood right below spinning turbines, and they make less noise than the wind itself, and it is far quieter than a highway.

          Give me wind turbines in place of smokestacks and spent nuclear fuel rods!

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Spent nuclear fuel rods are quieter than turbines — every time.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            So, you’d be fine with storing spent nuclear rods in your back yard, then? They’d be … quiet…

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            How much are you willing to pay?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            These spent rods are already in all of our backyards, figuratively speaking. And the companies that profited from them has already foisted them on the rest of us.

          • Dave Scott

            Neil, perhaps the turbine we spotted in Sandusky that was so loud had a bad bearing. There is another north of Columbus we’ve driven by that is totally silent.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Right, I think a few are noisy, but in general, they are much quieter than a highway. Newer designs are direct drive, and the old ones used a gear transmission that was the most frequent cause of problems. Direct drive designs are much more reliable and don’t take as much effort to maintain them.

            I have friends who have a cabin very near several large turbines. Being out in the woods, away from any man made noise still means they make very quiet neighbors.

            The wind itself is quite loud, and the amount of noise produced by a typical wind turbine is almost at the background noise level.

  • http://www.CayerComputing.com/ Melissa A. Cayer

    I do not know what kind of pine tree my pine cones came from.

  • Sandy2118

    I was sorry to miss most of this show and will try to listen to the streaming version. I heard you say we will get more super storms in the future, due to climate change. My question is What about the spent fuel rods that are lying around Pilgrim nuclear power plant, in pools rather than in dry cask storage? What if our area gets hit by a super storm like Sandy? Is anything being done to prepare for the potential catastrophe that a super storm hitting Plymouth would be?

    • fun bobby

      yes the term plymouthkashima has been trademarked by 7 news

  • Jim Corcoran

    The best chance to mitigate climate change is to severely reduce consumption of animal foods. About 1/2 of human induced warming is attributable to animal agriculture. Methane is 24 times more potent than CO2 and takes only 7 years to cycle out of the atmosphere. CO2 takes around 100 years to come out. Human pursuit of animal protein is the leading cause of methane release and a primary cause of CO2 concentrating in the atmosphere. Check the facts and act!

    “A 1% reduction in world-wide meat intake has the same benefit as a three trillion-dollar investment in solar energy.” ~ Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy

    “As environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” Worldwatch Institute, “Is Meat Sustainable?”

    “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.” UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s report “Livestock’s Long Shadow”

    “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains… the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” Environmental Defense Fund

    “It’s not a requirement to eat animals, we just choose to do it, so it becomes a moral choice and one that is having a huge impact on the planet, using up resources and destroying the biosphere.” ~ James Cameron, movie director, environmentalist and new vegan

    “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” ~ Albert Einstein

    21-Day Vegan Kickstart
    http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/kickstart/kickstart-programs

    • fun bobby

      I like steaks

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Craig Vetner says he can make steak-’like’ material out of genetically modified algae. Any interest?

        • fun bobby

          goes great with a side of soylent green

        • Sy2502

          No thank you.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Clearly there is a market for cattle diapers to ‘catch’ the methane at the source. Go for it.

      • fun bobby

        actually they do have some systems that collect animal waste and digest it into methane for power generation. its a win win

    • ExcellentNews

      The difference between thinking liberals and gut-reaction conservatives is perfectly illustrated by the nitwit comments of the latter below…

  • ExcellentNews

    Oh come on, we all know the Earth is 6000 years old and there is no such thing as CO2 (it’s a liberal fabrication of Al Gore to steal the hard-earned money of global coal billionaires and oil despots)

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Here’s a link to the Science Friday program on this same topic:

    http://sciencefriday.com/segment/11/01/2013/hurricane-sandy-recovery-one-year-later.html

    All science, all the time!

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