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Posts Tagged ‘greenhouse gases’

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Heard a great report on KCRW’s, Which Way, LA?, on Monday night about a nuclear meltdown that occurred 50 years ago right here in LA.  Maybe you are like me and had never heard of this, so you may find that alone an interesting component of the show.

However the program went on to have a discussion about nuclear power and whether it should start to be embraced by the United States.  Our country has not built a reactor in 30 years… and it is safe to say that a lot has changed since then.  The show has guest presenters who discuss the pros and cons of nuclear, and they all make very strong points in this nuanced discussion.

I am personally very intrigued by nuclear, and don’t usually place the safety concerns about it above the concerns for other forms of energy.  As John McCain stated in one of the presidential debates, we have been powering submarines with nuclear for 30 years and we are still sending them out filled with our citizens.  And if safety is the primary concern, then why does it make sense to keep running 40 year old reactors instead of building new ones with all the new safety features that have been developed over the last three decades?  It really is an interesting debate, especially as it crosses territory into environmentalism since nuclear produces no greenhouse gases that global warming is said to be based on, and yet it is still not favored by many environmentalists.

While I usually don’t look to France for anything innovative in politics, economics, business, science, etc., they are the world leaders in nuclear power and provide a current example we can look to of the pros and cons of this form of energy.  I encourage you to check out the KCRW show and let us know your opinion.

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A recurring topic that I have brought up on CAI before regards global warming (see here, and here) and the way that it is presented in the media and culture.  I most often feel that to even suggest a debate is looked upon as the same as holocaust denial.  It’s a frustrating and pointless response, that does nothing to validate the underlying concern.  And stories like this one from Powerline and also Newsbusters, do even more damage to the idea that this is in fact a phenomenon of human cause and that we need to take the drastic steps we are considering.  The Powerline article focuses on this doozy:

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has obtained an EPA study of the “endangerment” to human well-being ostensibly caused by carbon dioxide emissions, together with a set of EPA emails indicating that the study, which concludes that carbon dioxide is not a significant cause of climate change, was suppressed by the EPA for political reasons.

That doesn’t seem honest, especially since it was the EPA that requested the report to validate their proposal.  Another example of this seeming more political then scientific can be found with writers such as Paul Krugman (admittedly not a scientist).  As he says in his latest New York Times op-ed:

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

And what is the research?

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Wait, that’s the research you point to… same old descriptors?  Where is the data, where is the title of the new peer-reviewed paper we should be reading? To his credit he does finally mention some statistics:

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

But who are these researchers?  What about this M.I.T. scientist who disagrees?

Granted, most of us are not scientists and so we need other to try and distill their research into understandable bits for us, but I would be much more open to this possibility if it didn’t seem to come across so much as propaganda.  So I continue to remain skeptical, and will for the foreseeable future until it appears there is more quality answers to the questions that are brought up concerning mans part in our planets changes.

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