Thursday, June 29, 2006

And he's back

Been away for a bit, but am back now, raring to go. I know I, and consistent posting on this blog, were sorely missed.

In any event, a couple small things to get going before I head off to work:

1.) U.S. Emits Half of Car-Caused Greenhouse Gas, Study Says:

"American cars and pickup trucks are responsible for nearly half of the greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally, even though the nation's vehicles make up just 30% of the nearly 700 million cars in use, according to a new report by Environmental Defense. Cars in the U.S. are driven more miles, face lower fuel economy standards and use fuel with more carbon than many of those driven in other countries, the authors found."

One surprising finding was that small cars emitted more carbon dioxide than SUVs, 25% of the total compared with 21%. That is because there are more older small vehicles with higher emissions still in service, said lead author John DeCicco, a mechanical engineer specializing in automobile research.

2.) Rep. Henry Waxman's Safe Climate Act:

The actual act can be found here.
Science tells us that we face a grave risk of irreversible and devastating global warming if global temperatures increase by more than 3.6°F.

The bill sets greenhouse gas emissions targets that aim to keep temperatures below the danger point. The level of emissions is frozen in 2010 and then gradually reduced each year through 2050.

The bill achieves these targets through a flexible economy-wide cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, along with measures to advance technology and reduce emissions through renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner cars.
Interesting they use the 3.6 degree (F) threshold. The James Hansen piece I read (see below) uses either 2 or 5 degrees as his baseline for damage comparison. One of the challenges, in terms of selling this concept to Americans worried about economic damage, "uncertainty" in the science, etc., while be nailing down the number and rallying behind it. Sounds silly, but the media, and the public respond to a specific, a 3 degree difference will lead to 100 million deaths and 5 billion in economic losses...or something along those lines. From experience, I know that the big, easy to read numbers are what get the media's attention (and thus the public).

The Act is very specific in its targets, although it waits a couple years before actually getting going in 2010...
Beginning in 2011, the quantity of United States greenhouse gas emissions shall be reduced by approximately 2 percent each year, such that the quantity of such emissions in 2020 does not exceed the quantity of United States greenhouse gases emitted in 1990.

Also, the act lays out seven separate ways to determine if global warming is occuring, including, substantial slowing of Atlantic thermohaline circulation, sea level rise of more than 8 inches, ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer, decrease of 50% in the permafrost, and loss of 40% of coral reefs.

Finally, the bill provides for a market-based system of trading emissions.

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