Another Southern take on Warner-Lieberman

Mere moments before the DeMint release came in, I received another release from the Southern Environmental Law Center with a different take on Warner-Lieberman, also from a Southern perspective.

Since I’ve got a lot of other stuff to do, I’m leaving this for y’all to sort out:

South has much at stake as U.S. Senate begins historic debate on climate change legislation

June 2, 2008
Nat Mund, Director, SELC Legislative Director (703) 851-8249
Trip Pollard, Director, SELC’s Land & Community Program (931) 598-0808

The U.S. Senate today began much-anticipated debate on the Climate Change Security Act of 2008, also known as the Warner-Lieberman bill. The U.S. has lagged well behind other industrial nations in addressing the threat of global warming. 

While the nation and the world will benefit from passage of legislation to control carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, the South in particular has much at stake – and much to contribute toward curbing carbon emissions.  Each of the six states in SELC’s region (AL, GA, NC, SC, TN, VA) rank among the top 15 highest sources of carbon pollution in the U.S.   If the six states were a nation, we’d rank 7th in the world in total carbon emissions. 

Nat Mund:  “The South’s sprawling development patterns and reliance on coal for electricity mean a huge carbon footprint. And we have a lot at stake – miles of fragile coastline and some of the most biologically diverse spots on the planet.   Senators Warner, Lieberman and Boxer deserve tremendous credit for shepherding legislation to this point.”

Trip Pollard:  “Transportation generates one-third of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., and is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in many states in the South.  Federal climate legislation must include significant funding for states and localities to implement smart growth and alternative transportation measures that can cut emissions – and help people save money – by reducing driving.”

Background:
Power plants  The South is heavily reliant on coal for its electricity. The region is home to the nation’s three dirtiest coal-fired power plants in carbon emissions – Scherer (GA), Miller (AL), and Bowen (GA). The Cumberland plant in Tennessee ranks #8.  Today there are proposals pending for four more conventional-style coal-fired power plants that would add at least 22.6 million tons of carbon to the atmosphere every year (see chart below).

Transportation  The South is the fastest sprawling region in the U.S., and transportation programs in the region have focused on road-building.  This translates into rising carbon emissions from the ever-increasing number of miles we are driving. From 1990-2005, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in SELC’s region increased 48.9%, outpacing the national increase of 39.2%.  Between 1982 and 1997, SELC’s six-state region developed more land by far than any other region; 6,064,500 acres compared to the next highest, the eastern Midwest at 3,777,200 acres.  Last week, a report by the Brookings Institution found that many southern metro areas had a higher than average carbon footprint per capita.

At risk   If global warming is unchecked, miles of shoreline in Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia – and the people who live there – will be more at risk from rising sea levels and more frequent and powerful hurricanes. By the same token, the likelihood of more intense drought will dry up drinking water supplies along the coast, in the Piedmont and in the mountains of the fast growing region. Ecologically, some of the most biologically diverse habitats in the world – including the Southern Appalachian highlands and longleaf forests along the coast – could suffer dire consequences.   

        Company Megawatts       CO2 emissions tons/year Cost estimates as of 5/08      
Pee Dee, SC     Santee Cooper   1320    11 million      $1.35 billion 
Cliffside, NC   Duke Energy     800     6.25 million    $1.8 – 2.4 billion    
Washington County, GA   Electric cooperatives   850     unknown at this time    $2 billion    
Wise Co, VA     Dominion  Power 585     5.4 million     $1.8 billion   
TOTAL           3,555   at least 22.65 million  at least $6.95 billion

Sorry about that chart; it didn’t transfer all that well. I’d give you a direct link to the release, but it’s not up on the site yet.

33 thoughts on “Another Southern take on Warner-Lieberman

  1. Lee Muller

    1. There is no such phenomena as “global warming”. Latest data from NASA, NOAA and European scientists show the Earth has been in a cooling trend since 1998.
    2. The South also has a huge amount of natural production of the gases politically named “greenhouse gases”. The hardwood forests produce huge amounts of CO2, CO, NO, NO2, and SO2. That is ths source of the smog which gives the Smokey Mountains their name.
    The ambient background levels of naturally-occuring smog gases is higher than the allowable levels under the Clean Air Act.

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  2. just saying

    “There is no such phenomena as “global warming”. Latest data from NASA, NOAA and European scientists show the Earth has been in a cooling trend since 1998.”
    Just for reference, the ten years is cited for the same reason the governor picks the comparison years for his arguments – someone looked through the data and found a cut-off year that exactly met his arguments. (Notice how the governors year of comparison changes based on the statistic he is discussing).
    Ten years ago was an El Nino and, like most of them, was abnormally high. It would be like arguing stocks are a bad investment by looking at there ten year returns now. For many funds, if you look at how they have performed very poorly for the past ten years, but have done well since either five years ago, or fifteen years ago, or, well, since any year that wasn’t in the middle of bull market.
    Data snooping like this (picking the years to give you the result you want) would give you an F in any data analysis class. So, what do we see if we randomly choose some other time period, 21 years until today, 7 years ago until today, 15 years ago until today?
    Hmmm… maybe there is a reason they pick exactly ten.

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  3. just saying

    The way to get an unbiased look at whats going on, is to take the data for the past 200 or 300 years and rescale it (add 100 to all the values and multiply by 5 or whatever) so it isn’t recognized as temperature. Take it to a statistician who does time series analysis and tell them you want to look for cyclical patterns, trend, and changepoints… and see what they come back with.
    Maybe they’ll say “and there was a change 10 years ago”… and maybe they won’t. But at least the answer will be based on good data analysis and not partisanship.

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  4. spenser

    Lee, you gotta stop taking Rush at his word and start thinking for yourself.
    I found this with a simple Google search in less than 3 seconds. Any by the way, it cites the very same studies by the NOAA that you claim dow differently. It helps to read the whole thing….but hten again you just took Rush Hannity at his word and never looked it up for yourself.
    “the Smokey Mountains are filled not by the smoke-like haze that was once a natural effect of oily residues and water vapor from the Smokey Mountain forest. Today the haze derives from pollution in distant cities”
    “According to the National Park Service, nearly 70 percent of the region’s smoky haze results from sulfur pollution. Visibility suffers, dropping from an average of 93 miles to 22 miles. On some otherwise clear days, visibility falls to one mile”
    …and by the way, water vapor never ever contained Carbon which is needed to form Carbon Monoxide or Carbon Dioxide. That is a waste bi-product.
    Water vapor is H20 (Hyrdogen & Oxygen)
    Buddy, you just got pwned.
    http://www.cnn.com/NATURE/9907/13/smokies.ozone.enn/

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  5. Lee Muller

    Why would NASA and NOAA be biased against the theory of global warming?
    Could it be because they are scientists whose data shows no evidence to support such theory?
    By the way, I conducted a long-term sampling of air in remote areas of Virginia mountains in 1990 and found that the “pollution” exceeded the then proposed Clean Air Act.
    I acted as one of the experts to the bill writers for the Clean Air Act, at the hehest of VHEC, because I was developing a new air quality measurement and control system for coal-fired generators.
    The large amount of sulfur compounds in the atmospheric vapor is due to the coal deposits in the ground and the trees, which take in these minerals from the soil and aspirate them in gases and vapors.

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  6. p.m.

    JS, where would I find the pre-Civil War temperature data? I’m interested in whether Sherman’s march through the South, considering the fires he set, contributed much to our present problem.
    If there are sea shells on my sandhill 100 miles inland, does that mean I may have oceanfront property again once this 10-year cooling period gives way to the normal warming trend?
    Notice tha phrase “normal warming trend.” I meant something by it.

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  7. just saying

    “Why would NASA and NOAA be biased against the theory of global warming?”
    They aren’t… and the agencies web-site summaries say:
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html
    http://www.nasa.gov/worldbook/global_warming_worldbook.html
    If it would help, I could post the various NOAA and NASA studies on the effects of El Nino, La Nina, and sunspot cycles on masking long term trends (as opposed to their misinterpreation by the conservative media).

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  8. Mike Cakora

    What’s so frustrating about this discussion is that even if the world goes full Kyoto, spends the trillions in remediation necessary to reduce CO2 output to 1990 or 2000 or whatever levels, we will postpone the predicted temperature increases for only a decade, probably just a few years, maybe only a week or two. And that’s according to the imperfect models scientists are tweaking today. In the process of following Kyoto, we end up impoverishing developed nations while forcing developing nations to stay in the dark ages, shorten lifespans, and forego drive-in theaters, restaurants, and dry cleaners. Quite the grim life, no?
    Bjorn Lomborg is an environmentalist who’s turned pragmatic by founding the Copenhagen Consensus, a convocation of smart folks who spend their time trying to figure out the best ways to allocate resources to save humans. They just finished their latest and greatest conference, and put Kyoto compliance near the bottom of their important-things-to-do list. (PDF file.)
    Bjorn and crew accept the IPCC globo-warmo conclusions. Their analysis is simply that there are higher public health priorities that folks should tackle, (from the previous link) things like micronutrient supplements and fortification (vitamin A, zinc, iron and salt iodization), expanded immunization, free trade, and so forth. Digging deep into their analyses, they argue that little things like rising sea levels can be managed at a reasonable cost in several ways like building dikes, moving people inland, or whatever. There’s enough time and resources to do so if we don’t make ourselves poor by doing things that may not work.
    There seem to be two engines driving the climate change politics. One is the religious, the new secular belief system of environmentalism, Gaia, and all that. It feeds the guilt of folks who believe that humans are the problem and that the true-believers know what’s best for all of us; it appears to me (and others) to be the child of socialism.
    The other engine is politics: saving the world is a good message for any politician regardless of which side of the aisle s/he sits. The clever official can set up a system wherein s/he directs (rules) resource allocation to save the human race from its follies. I don’t think that Barbara Boxer has the answers, but I don’t claim that I do either.
    Time will tell. Let’s not screw things up in the process.

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  9. L Nettles

    “Just for reference, the ten years is cited for the same reason the governor picks the comparison years for his arguments – someone looked through the data and found a cut-off year that exactly met his arguments. (Notice how the governors year of comparison changes based on the statistic he is discussing).”
    Why pick 10 years?
    1. its the most recent 10 years.
    2. its inconsistent with the projections of the IPCC.
    3. Its actually less dramatic cooling that the last 18 months.
    4. It probably says something about the current solar cycle.
    5. It suggests a falsification of the theory on significant human induced global warming. Inconsistency being scientifically more important that consistency.
    6. A trend based on the global recovery from the Little Ice Age is useless. Almost all instrument records begin during the LIA.
    7. The hockey stick graph has been proved useless.
    8. It actually make more sense that the trends “just saying” relies on.

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  10. Jay

    L, I’m pretty sure the IPCC never said that every year will be warmer than the previous year, it’s just that you have a take a longer view than just the recent X number of years.
    Mike, the whole idea that doing things to prevent climate change is not worth doing in any large sense because it will make us poor, or bankrupt us, or whatever is extremely short-sighted and discounts any positives, especially to business, that are starting to come about because of green tech and green collar jobs. I don’t have the source, but I heard a piece on NPR that said 20% of all venture capital is currently going to green businesses. This is not the same stat, but it shows a similar trend. So this will be happening whether or not government gets in on the act, but we at least need one that acknowledges that there is a problem.

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  11. Lee Muller

    To elaborate on L Nettles’ points:
    1. Even when we select any periods where precise weather records have been kept, say going back to the US farm records program of the 1890s, the warming trends are just short interludes that subside back into longer cooling trends.
    6. The genesis of the Theory of Global Warming was the changeover from human readings of dry bulb and wet bulb thermometers at airports and USDA stations, to a replacement system of solid-state electronics, which are non-linear and read about 1 degree F higher than a mercury or alcohol thermometer.

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  12. just saying

    Lee, I would love for global warming to be a bunch of scientists doing bad science. And if the 2020 five year average temperatures are back around where they were in 1920 or even 1970, I’ll be happy to buy you a tank of gas or a nice big steak dinner.
    I think the best way to find out what is really going on with the data is is decidedly not to rely on politically biases sites or “I say so” arguments (obviously you think mine are biased, I think yours are). Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to take the average annual global temperatures since 1890 or whatnot), the records on sunspots, el ninos, la ninas, and changes like switching thermometer types – change the names of the variables to take the politics out for whoever is doing the analysis, and bring the data to an econometrician or statistician to do a time series analysis to see if there is a trend or not? They could also statistically test whether we’re seeing inconsistency like Nettles’ claims, or if its just random error in a longer warming trend with smaller cyclical patterns.
    Short of that, my round numbers are just as good as yours. Lets try 50 years or 100 years on this graph instead of 10:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f4/Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png

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  13. Louis Nettles

    Dear just saying
    It all comes down to X and Y.
    What is the right number X for years in a trend and Why that number?
    I gave you 8 reasons for X=10 and you haven’t suggested a number for X
    And have you ever head of the broken window fallacy

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  14. just saying

    Reasons ten is a poor choice:
    1) Ten time points is too small for doing any modeling where there are three other main variables behind the scenes that influence whats happening (El Nino, La Nina, sunspots)
    2) Ten was chosen because ten years ago was one of the warmest El Nino on record, so that it makes what comes after look smaller. Its like looking at 10 year stock returns where ten years ago was either to top of a bull or bottom of a bear. No one smart would use that number alone when looking at investments.
    But fine. If you are in love with ten years, I expect you to damn well stick with ten year windows next year, and the year after, and the year after, etc…

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  15. just saying

    Ooops, forgot to suggest an X.
    How about we look at all of the X’s we have fairly reliable data for, and include change points in the analysis so we can look for where cooling and warming periods end and begin.

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  16. Mike Cakora

    Jay –
    I am not arguing that we should do nothing. I’ve recounted my green exploits. I like to save and believe that we’re on a trend line for greater efficiencies, cleaner energy, and the like. Thanks to innovators like TJ Rodgers, solar power will start making sense, and fission and someday fusion for fixed energy needs make a lot of sense. So does hydrogen or some sort of fuel cell for transportation. Green investing is great.
    Where I have problems is in pushing legislation to drive the changes because the sausage machine will screw things up. Look at the recently passed farm bill and wonder why food prices are up. In that last energy bill our solons banned incandescent light bulbs.
    How much of the green investing is being done to capture tax credits for activities that makes sense pr5imarily because of idiotic legislation. Ethanol and some other biofuels make no economic sense — it takes about a gallon of petroleum to bring a gallon of ethanol to the retailer — without the credits and subsidies Congress has created. Moreover, if ethanol is really a good idea, why does Congress levy a $0.51 tariff on each gallon imported?
    Some of that investing too is in anticipation of the Lieberman-Warner Act; with Congress calling the shots, there will be much mischief afoot. Besides, I already have the answer to climate change: breathe less.

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  17. Kay Williams

    Perhaps NASA would distort facts because of political pressure. See today’s Washington Post:
    Climate Findings Were Distorted, Probe Finds
    By Juliet Eilperin
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, June 3, 2008; Page A02
    An investigation by the NASA inspector general found that political appointees in the space agency’s public affairs office worked to control and distort public accounts of its researchers’ findings about climate change for at least two years, the inspector general’s office said yesterday.
    ….

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  18. Lee Muller

    Kay, you’re just trying to fabricate an excuse to dismiss the facts.
    NASA just reported the raw data.
    NOAA just reported the raw data.
    European scientists just reported the raw data.
    The Earth has been cooling for the last 10 years. The oceans never warmed up. Ice that melted in the north was offset by new ice formations in the south.

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  19. Lee Muller

    One of the favorite delusions of liberals is that, “my numbers are as good as yours”, “every opinion is equal”, etc.
    No, they are not, when your numbers are cooked and mine are raw, and when you are unschooled in science, dismissing the vast majority of scientists who tell you that there is no such thing as “global warming”, much less caused by your neighbor’s SUV.

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  20. just saying

    “The Earth has been cooling for the last 10 years.”
    Which of course is entirely explainable due to El Nino and La Nina, and the long term trend is visible if you go back any number of years from 11 to 120 from the present.
    I trust, Lee, that you will always use “ten year” figures for your arguing about climate change, and won’t switch to 11 next year, and 12 the year after?

    Mike, what do you think about legislation spelling out that neither the federal government nor any state government will have any responsibility towards relocating or compensating people or municipalities who lose land due to rising sea levels?

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  21. Kay Williams

    Lee,
    Me thinks you are the one dismissing facts.
    However,even with the tiniest, remote possibility that you are right, is there any harm in conserving our natural heritage? Is there any harm in living a smaller life, driving more fuel efficient cars, burning less coal, protecting our waterways? If I’m wrong and the there is no global warming, at least my life style has done no harm, whereas ….

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  22. John Hartz

    Temperatures are continuing to rise
    “The rise in global surface temperature has averaged more than 0.15 °C per decade since the mid-1970s. Warming has been unprecedented in at least the last 50 years, and the 17 warmest years have all occurred in the last 20 years. This does not mean that next year will necessarily be warmer than last year, but the long-term trend is for rising temperatures.”
    Posted on the website of the Met Office in the UK.
    To access the entire posting, go to: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/myths/2.html

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  23. Mike Cakora

    Kay — that article you cite has this:

    The political interference did not extend to the research itself or its dissemination through scientific journals and conferences, the investigators said. “We found no evidence indicating NASA blocked or interfered with the actual research activities of its climate scientists,” the report said, but as a result of the actions of the political appointees, “trust was lost, at least temporarily, between the agency and some of its key employees and perhaps the public it serves.”

    just saying – What happens now with gradual erosion or sudden calamity, whether on the coast or inland? Politics drives the response, no? Beach reclamation is controversial and probably ineffective, but individuals and governments spend billion$ on it anyway, but me, I’m anti-groin.
    Sea-level predictions remain controversial, and some cities may be at risk because the land is sinking. We’ve known that there’s a long-term trend of rising sea levels, but that’s what happens when you emerge from an Ice Age. I have no doubt that folks along the coast will sue over the matter, the polar bear suits have already started, a harbinger of the legal landslide to come.

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  24. just saying

    “a harbinger of the legal landslide to come.”
    I’m wondering if we put the law in place now, when we are decades away from big cities going under (if they will at all), if that risk would start getting priced into the property. I mean, if a small percent of people foreclosing because of bad loans sends the economy into a tailspin, what will a couple big cities gradually slipping under do?
    And I’m happy to make it where beach replenishment and sinking city relief can’t be compelled from the state of feds; as well as limiting the number of FEMA rebuilds on any lot. (I’ve got no solution for the politicos deciding to rebuild things… I just don’t want the courts to be able to force them to.)

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  25. Mike Cakora

    just saying – I’m in favor of judges wise enough to interpret the law and humble enough to refrain from making law. Perhaps you are too.
    I thinks that since Katrina and because of abuses in Mississippi and a stupid law in Florida, insurers are either scared or overly cautious and rates are sky-high near the coast. That’s inhibiting development. But Congress is working on legislation to create a taxpayer-financed reinsurance program for hurricane coverage that will have the perverse effect of stimulating irresponsible development along the coast by making insurance cheaper. The bill puts taxpayers on the hook to pay losses.

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  26. Lee Muller

    Kay,
    You are wrong about “global warming”, if you think it exists, and back silly legislation which cripples our economy and retards technological solutions to real problems.
    Since I have worked in the field of air pollution sampling and control, coal-fired generator controls, and innovation of new technologies for remote metrology of weather and air pollution, it irritates me to see this phony issue driven by devious pseudo-environmentalists and their ignorant followers.
    As Mike and I keep pointing out, every such issue in the last few years touched by Congress has ended up making the “problem” worse, had terrible side effects, and has make lots of money for special interest groups. The Ethanol Hoax is the latest example of this folly.

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  27. Mike Cakora

    Kay –
    Lee, I, and some others around here are conservationists. This column describes the differences between environmentalism and conservation.
    The series Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green starts here. It has links to ten short articles that turn conventional green beliefs upside down: air-conditioning actually emits less c02 than heating, conventional agriculture can be easier on the planet than organic farming, old-growth forests can actually contribute to global warming, etc.
    Finally, English-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson accepts climate change, but has a different take that you can enjoy in his review of two books on global warming in the current issue of The New York Review of Books.

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  28. p.m.

    JS, if the sea once lapped at my land 100 miles inland now, leaving seashells by what was then the seashore, did our behavior cause it?
    The Earth warms, on average. The Earth cools, on average. We believe that we, being the most important thing on Earth, control what happens here, so whatever happens on Earth, it must be our fault.
    But we are the only creature on Earth that believes us so important, much less the rest of our self-important guilt trip.
    The dinosaurs are gone, but did nothing to cause their exit. When we disappear, it won’t be our fault, either.
    Or even George Bush’s.

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  29. Lee Muller

    The last 10 years is significant because for the last 10 years we have been hearing a plague of lies about “global warming”, when it actually was cooling.

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