Friday, November 14, 2008

Coal power plants must address CO2 emissions

In a rather remarkable move, the Environmental Appeals Board of the Environmental Protection Agency remanded a permit to build a coal power plant in Utah because it did not adequately address carbon dioxide controls. The permit does not technically ban all coal-fired power plant construction, but delays their approval until they deal with CO2.

Of course, this should not be a problem for the coal industry, right? I mean, they've been touting how clean they are with expensive "clean coal" ad campaigns. So this is really all water under the bridge for them, is it not?

The ruling by the EAB refers to the landmark Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, in which the court concluded that the EPA had the authority to regulate CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act, and the duty to do so as long as it concluded that CO2 emissions are harmful to the public welfare.

Industry groups have claimed that the CAA is not the appropriate legal tool to regulate CO2 emissions.
The American Petroleum Institute filed a brief opposing the Sierra Club, arguing that the Clean Air Act, a version of which first passed in 1963 long before climate change became an environmental issue, is the wrong vehicle for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
There is merit to the argument that the Clean Air Act wasn't intended to regulate CO2, which is a different kind of pollutant than, for example, volatile organic compounds or particulate matter. CO2's harm is not medical, but physical, in terms of the way it compromises the stability of climate systems if too much of it is concentrated in the air.

But the Clean Air Act gives flexible authority to the EPA administrator to regulate air pollutants. For example, at least regarding motor vehicles, Section 202 (a)(1), which was at the heart of the Massachusetts ruling, states:
The Administrator shall by regulation prescribe (and from time to time revise) in accordance with the provisions of this section, standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. Such standards shall be applicable to such vehicles and engines for their useful life (as determined under subsection (d), relating to useful life of vehicles for purposes of certification), whether such vehicles and engines are designed as complete systems or incorporate devices to prevent or control such pollution.
Notice how the section does not specify the way in which a pollutant might endanger public health or welfare. In fact, the finding in section 101(a)(2) acknowledges the "complexity" of air pollution. No one word better describes the nature of climate change. In the past, complexity had been exploited by skeptics to deny that climate change was occurring due to greenhouse gas emissions.

Even complex processes can hold general truths, however. The EAB ruling is a long-awaited regulatory affirmation from the federal government of that complex but firm truth that CO2 emissions en masse are endangering the public health and welfare.

18 comments:

SBVOR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SBVOR said...

Still can't face the substantiated facts, eh?

Bru said...

I can face substantiated facts -- for example, the IPCC assessment reports.

What I prefer not to face on my blog is link spamming in the comment section.

Anyone is welcome to present a reasonable disagreement, but "reasonable" does not include screeds full of nothing but invectives and links that say "Click here for REAL climate science", only to have the link refer to a post on your blog with a picture of a book cover.

Why are you so afraid of presenting a reasonable argument, with premises and a conclusion, as to why climate change is not occurring, or why carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas, or why climate change is not a crisis? If that's what you actually believe, shouldn't you be capable of making an argument for it?

SBVOR said...

Bru,

The link you refer to does include an image of a highly relevant book cover. Clicking that image takes the reader to a highly relevant interview with the author. The link you refer to also provides sub links fully documenting the fact that the very large majority of scientists do not share your views. The myth that a consensus of scientists shares your views is the first and most important myth to address (only because so many alarmists regard that as the only argument that matters).

The link you refer to provides other sub links which offer directly cited peer reviewed science refuting your alarmism. But, you can’t face up to the peer reviewed science, can you? It is far easier to have a blind faith in a dogma preached by the purely political IPCC, isn’t it?

Attempting to debate you or reason with you is a waste of my time. All you do is delete my substantiated evidence and then proceed to mischaracterize it in the manner of a propagandist.

So, I will, mostly likely, leave you to your lonely zealotry.

At least Cynthia, at Earthling Angst, allows my evidence to stand (even if she never attempts to refute it). I do not respect the way she politicizes science. But, unlike you, she earns a modicum of my respect for allowing my thoroughly substantiated opposition comments to stand.

Have a nice life!

Bru said...

The fact that you call the IPCC "purely political" suggests that you are not able to face substantiated facts.

Good luck finding another blog to spam. This one will still be here if you're ever in the mood for a reasonable discussion.

SBVOR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SBVOR said...

Bru,

If the IPCC ever admits that all their computer models falsely assume a positive water vapor feedback mechanism which recent peer reviewed science (published in REAL peer reviewed science journals) is now proving not only incorrect, but upside down, that might be the first step in their rehabilitation from a “purely political” organization to an organization worthy of anybody’s attention.

A negative water vapor feedback would help to explain why, during the Ordovician, we witnessed CO2 levels about 12 times higher than today and yet, experienced an Ice Age which was very similar to THE CURRENT ICE AGE!

Well, the fact that each additional molecule of CO2 has exponentially LESS warming effect than the previous molecule is another part of that story.

Of course, admitting a negative water vapor feedback would reduce the IPCC’s already increasingly less hysterical prognostications for the next 100 years of climate change to levels which would be utterly incapable of generating hysterical headlines or very destructive, very draconian government policies (such as we see demonstrated in this thread).

That one admission would eliminate the entire basis for the existence of the IPCC. And, that is precisely why they will never admit THE FACTS as demonstrated by peer reviewed science!

Bru said...

Wrong.

First, you don't even understand the organization you are criticizing. The GCMs do not belong to the IPCC. In their assessment reports, the IPCC synthesizes research from hundreds and hundreds of peer-reviewed articles, which draw on one or more of the several GCMs out there.

Second, the positive forcing from contrails and cirrus clouds in the models is already assumed to be very small. The WG1 technical summary puts it at +0.01 W/m^2. The effect is so small that that it is far from the primary determinant of warming. CO2's forcing, on the other hand, is 1.66 W/m^2. Besides GHG concentrations, there are many factors (such as solar output, land cover change, etc.) that have larger forcing levels than cirrus clouds.

Nice try, though.

SBVOR said...

Bru,

The figure you quoted is the very rough IPCC estimate of the forcing factor from aviation created contrails ALONE! Quoting your own IPCC source:

“Persistent linear contrails from global aviation contribute a small radiative forcing of +0.01 [+0.003 to +0.03] W m–2, with a low level of scientific understanding.”

The fact that the IPCC mentions the word Cirrus in that 18MB document and then ONLY describes the contribution of aviation created contrails to Cirrus clouds is a VERY CLEAR CLUE to just how “purely political” the IPCC really is!

Water vapor is, by FAR the most powerful so-called greenhouse gas. (The greenhouse effect is a very poor metaphor for what really happens).

EVERY alarmist (with a science degree) admits that CO2 alone is utterly incapable of justifying any alarm. Without the falsely assumed positive water vapor feedback mechanism described (and refuted) in my previous post, the entire cabal falls apart.

Quoting Dr. Roy Spencer in describing his peer reviewed science:

“To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent”.

Bru said...

sbvor,

I love how you seem unable to present an actual peer-reviewed article in favor of your argument, preferring instead links to pictures of book covers, rogue skeptics' (like Spencer's) bios, Google search results, and (in the past) blog posts by Jim Inhofe.

They might increase the links' presence on Google searches (which is probably what your underlying mission is anyway -- spread "dissent" even if it is baseless), but they don't match up with facts.

If water vapor is a negative feedback, why has the earth warmed so much since preindustrial times? On the contrary, the evidence is building that water vapor is a positive feedback:

"The water-vapor feedback implied by these observations is strongly positive, with an average magnitude of λ q = 2.04 W/m2/K, similar to that simulated by climate models." [Dessler et al. 2008]

Small wonder why Spencer is unable to get several of his articles published in a peer-reviewed journal.

SBVOR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SBVOR said...

Bru,

Those who have the science on their side argue the science. Those who do not have the science on their side attack the scientist. We know where you stand.

I previously provided the press release. Click here for the published version in the peer reviewed journal. Forgive me if I gave you enough credit to be capable of finding that on your own.

Congratulations on finding ONE opposing conclusion (published in the very same peer reviewed journal). At least you are now branching out beyond the “purely political” IPCC. It’s a start.

So, at BEST, the peer reviewed science (published in the VERY SAME peer reviewed journal) is INCONCLUSIVE as to the effect of the water vapor feedback. But, if one assumes a positive water vapor feedback, HOW did the world, 460 million years ago, during the Ordovician, fall into an ICE AGE very similar to the CURRENT ICE AGE when CO2 levels were TWELVE TIMES what they are today? Note, in the previous link, the directly cited peer reviewed science.

Your pals believe doubling the CO2 level will create an unstoppable “tipping point” of no return. WHY did that NOT happen when CO2 levels were TWELVE TIMES the level of today? Is it just possible that this “tipping point” did not happen because Dr. Lindzen and Dr. Spencer are correct about a NEGATIVE water vapor feedback?

WHY would we want to cut our own throats with counterproductive CO2 policy based on such flimsy, contradictory, unsettled science?

How do I explain the warming of the last century? A portion could be attributed to man made CO2. However, if you assume, as the IPCC does, that 0.7C of warming was caused by man made CO2, the best peer reviewed science (directly cited in this link) suggests that the next 100 years will only produce another 0.4C of warming. BUT, FAR more powerful drivers of climate change could very well mean we see a net cooling over the next 100 years.

Even Al Gore knows that the warming of the last century is peanuts compared to the warming of the last 20,000 years. And, THAT warming is peanuts compared to the COOLING of the last 30,000,000 years. Note the directly cited peer reviewed science in both of the previous links.

We are undeniably currently in a cooling trend. In the Continental USA, that trend has been in place since 1998. In fact, based on current trends, 2008 is likely to be right around the average temperature of the period from 1895 to 2008. NOAA now has data for October. You can follow my instructions in that last link and confirm that the October data places 2008 even closer to the average temperature for the period 1895 to 2008.

Globally, a cooling trend has been in place since 2001. This trend might last decades. Or, it might last centuries (or more). At the margins, it could even signal the next (and inevitable) glacial period (although I personally think that event is about 50,000 years off).

Bru said...

Haha. We're in a cooling trend? Don't think so (global temperature index, 1880-2007).

Especially not in the arctic.

More evidence of the positive water vapor feedback in tropical SSTs:

"Model predicted SST limits for (i) the onset of deep convection and (ii) maximum SST, increased in the doubled CO2 environment. Changes in cloud heights, cloud frequencies, and cloud mass-fractions showed that convective-cloud changes increased the SSTs, while warmer mixed-layer of the doubled CO2 contained ∼10% more water vapor."

Keep citing Spencer and Lindzen; they're all you've got (besides your shrill conspiracy theories about the IPCC).

SBVOR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SBVOR said...

Bru,

NOAA data confirms a “lower 48” cooling trend starting in 1998.

NASA Goddard, home to your own Grand Pooh-Bah James Hansen, is one of FIVE sources confirming a global cooling trend since 2001.

Are you accusing all SIX SOURCES of fabricating data?

If you want to cherry pick your start and stop dates, let’s start 30 million years ago and tell me what the long term trend has been.

Or, let’s compare the current interglacial warming period (the Holocene) to ANY of the previous FOUR interglacial warming periods and show me what is unprecedented about the current warming period.

Remember, the current interglacial warming period is just one of around 100 [glacial/interglacial cycles] in the last 2.5 million years

Can we say “perfectly NATURAL climate change cycle”? Sure we can!

Bru said...

sbvor,

NOAA data confirm a warming trend in the United States from 1970-2007: 0.58 F / decade, relative to a base year period of 1895-1970

But this is just the United States. See, when we talk about climate change, we talk about global climate change, not just the U.S. (But even in the lower-48 U.S. there has been a long-term warming).

That's not even to account for Alaska, which has had accelerated warming even compared to the lower 48:

"Temperatures in Alaska have risen 3.6 degrees F. in the past half-century. The warmer conditions are changing marine and terrestrial ecosystems and forcing human communities to adapt as well.
Warmer winters have resulted in spruce bark beetles eating through vast tracts of forest. Some wetlands appear to be drying out. Several coastal villages previously protected by sea ice now find themselves exposed to the ocean’s full fury. They’ll have to relocate."

NASA GISS gives us global data:

"The global mean temperature anomaly, 0.57°C (about 1°F) warmer than the 1951-1980 mean, continues the strong warming trend of the past thirty years that has been confidently attributed to the effect of increasing human-made greenhouse gases (GHGs) (Hansen et al. 2007). The eight warmest years in the GISS record have all occurred since 1998, and the 14 warmest years in the record have all occurred since 1990."

Now that you're backed into a corner, all you have left is a couple of rogue sources, a barrage of pointless links, and less than a decade of local data (which doesn't support your argument anyway).

Anthropogenic climate change is real, and you know it. We have to do something about it to reduce the risk to future wellbeing.

Like I said before, good luck finding another blog to spam. I hope you get a raise from whichever interest group is paying you. That's the last I'm going to say to you.

SBVOR said...

Bru,

You are back to cherry picking your time frames.

My previous comment thoroughly debunked that strategy. So, there is no need to repeat all the detailed citations. Restating the summary will suffice.

The FACT is that the current interglacial warming period has not yet produced temperatures which even meet, much less exceed ANY of the previous four perfectly natural, perfectly normal interglacial warming periods.

In FACT, the “Climatic Optimum” for the current interglacial warming period occurred about 8,000 years ago and it is highly unlikely that this “Climatic Optimum” will be exceeded before we inevitably fall into the next glacial period within the context of the larger Ice Age which began 30 million years ago.

If you want to worry about Climate Change, worry about that next inevitable glacial period (brought on by Milankovitch Cycles, the primary driver behind all glacial/interglacial cycles).

P.S.) Nobody pays me to post anything. My only purpose (as a scientist who has spent thousands of hours investigating this topic) is to save humanity from the same sort of Junk Science that killed tens of millions and caused untold suffering on the part of hundreds of millions more (with no benefit to anybody).

Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, I am confident that your political agenda will prevail (for a time) and both science and humanity will lose. That will not stop me from trying to prevent the catastrophe which I KNOW will result (again).

Eric said...

dude. just stop. just because no one comments on your website doesn't mean you have to take a big shit in the comment section on others.

you've had your time, now youre done.