Old News, New Administration

23 03 2009

Not surprisingly, the Environmental Protection Agency sent out a new proposal claiming global warming is a threat to public health and welfare. This same idea was actually rejected in July 2008 by the former EPA administrator Stephen Johnson. Apparently the new administrator, Lisa Jackson, will be taking the EPA in a new direction.

Stephen Johnson

Stephen Johnson

Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson

“Frank O’Donnell, who heads the public watchdog group Clean Air Watch said the new proposal, ‘will set the stage for the first-ever national limits on global warming pollution. And it is likely to help light a fire under Congress to get moving.'”

But some businesses are not as optomistic about the new limits, saying pollution caps will further hinder any chances at economic recovery.

Oh Canada

16 02 2009

Obama is coming to Canada this Thursday to discuss how to combat global warming, greenhouse gas emissions and the oil sands of Alberta.

Oil sands are areas of land with deposits of Bitumen, a crude oil in the form of sand. The result is a fossil fuel that is very hard to refine, but produces a lot of energy.

Some Canadian lobbyists feel Obama’s visit is their chance to debate new pollution caps for refining the oil sands. The sands produce oil that has three times the carbon impact per barrel in the production process as regular oil.

There’s No Turning Back

9 02 2009

CLIMATE CHANGE IS IRREVERSIBLE! According to a report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, effects caused by the current amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will be present for the next 1,000 years. Even if CO2 emissions were completely halted, immediately, the greenhouse warming effects would still be apparent until the year 3000.

Susan Solomon of the University of Colorado presented this report on Jan. 27, 2008. She said the heat caused by excessive CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, but over the next 1,000 years that captured heat will be released into the air, prolonging the warming process.

Carbon dioxide, carbon cycle, emissions

Carbon Cycle

So this case study could be used as fodder for oil and car companies; urging consumers to go ahead and pollute because “what’s done is done.” But Solomon does not see it that way.

“I guess if it’s irreversible, to me it seems all the more reason you might want to do something about it,” she says. “Because committing to something that you can’t back out of seems to me like a step that you’d want to take even more carefully than something you thought you could reverse.”

While we cannot change these “irreversible” effects for the better, we do have the power to accelerate and worsen them.

In her report, Solomon projected dust-bowl-like conditions if the amount of CO2 reached 450-600 parts per million. Today the CO2 concentration is about 385 parts per million. A recent global climate treaty cited 450 parts per million to appear in the year 2100.

Also, other greenhouse gases do not linger in the atmosphere as long as CO2 does, so it is possible to reverse the effects caused by excessive methane, nitrous oxide and human-made gases.

Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse Gases

Tougher Tailpipes Scare Automakers

4 02 2009

California and 13 other states (Vermont, New Jersey, New York, Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Rhode Island) asked President Obama to resubmit a request that would allow states to enforce stricter regulations than the federal government’s for auto emissions and fuel efficiency.

William Kovacs, a VP at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was not happy with the President’s decision. “In addition, such a move would put the EPA one step closer to making carbon dioxide ‘subject to regulation’ under the Act. This would … have the unintended consequence of creating costly and burdensome permitting requirements on millions of construction projects, including hospitals, schools, and office buildings,” he said.

But what is wrong with an agency finally having the ability to regulate CO2?

And, the excuse of “costly and burdensome” has been used for far too long. Former President Bush rejected the same proposal in 2007, probably for similar reasons, but it’s about time someone took some action.

Currently, each gallon of gasoline you burn creates 20 pounds of CO2 and in California, about 40 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions are caused by automobiles, so perhaps it is time for better regulations.

2004 Greenhouse Gas Emission In California

In California, “the new regulations would force automakers to reduce vehicle emissions by a third by 2016…and increase fuel efficiency from 27 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon in cars and light trucks.”

Currently “California produces roughly 1.4 percent of the world’s, and 6.2 percent of the total U.S., greenhouse gases.”