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Does healthcare win leave climate in better shape?

Richard Black | 12:42 UK time, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The passage of President Obama's healthcare reform package prompts the question: what might it mean for climate change legislation?

Barack ObamaWill it clear the path for a climate bill this year, as some believe?

Or has politicking over the healthcare bill poisoned the well of goodwill in Washington, as others argue?

Around the turn of the year, things were looking fairly bleak for proponents, with delays in bringing the Kerry-Boxer bill (which evolved from the Waxman-Markey bill approved by the House of Representatives in the summer) into the Senate.

Then came the vanilla-coloured accord from Copenhagen, and the Republican triumph in the Massachusetts election for the formerly Democrat seat of Edward Kennedy; many wise heads on both sides if the US political divide were arguing that the tortured progress on healthcare effectively meant the end of Boxer-Kerry, which could well in turn mean the end to any prospect of a negotiated, global deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Now that the healthcare reforms are apparently here (pending a likely Supreme Court challenge by disgruntled Republicans), it's clearly an opportune time to revisit the issue: so obviously opportune, in fact, that Grist magazine was moved to use the most jaded title for a blog entry I've seen in a long time, "The inevitable 'What Does Health Care Reform Mean for Climate Legislation' post".

Grist doesn't come to a conclusion, but its explanation of the senatorial numbers game is worth a read if, like me, you sometimes need a refresher on the intricacies of super-majorities and reconciliations and other details of Congressional procedures.

If and when a bill does go forward, however, it will be a very different beast from the original bill. When that was clearly going to stumble, a cross-party group of senators - the Democrat John Kerry, the Republican Lindsey Graham and the Independent Joe Lieberman - convened to write something that they thought might have a greater chance of success.

Twenty-two Democrat Senators, at least, want to push ahead on this immediately; they sent a letter to Senate majority leader Harry Reid at the tail end of last week saying:

"Our lack of a comprehensive clean energy policy hurts job creation and increases regulatory uncertainty throughout our economy...We need to take action in order to lead the emerging sectors that will drive our economic recovery."

In this they are echoing the language used by Mr Obama since the turn of the year, seeking to recast the climate bill in terms of jobs and economic recovery, which his advisers clearly see as a more attractive way to frame the message.

And it appears that their wish may be granted, with Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman reported to be on the verge of submitting it to the Environmental Protection Agency for analysis of its costs and benefits.

Precisely what is in the new bill has not yet been disclosed. But leaks in the US media suggest it is likely to be considerably weaker than Boxer-Kerry.

Those of you with wonkish tendencies can head to The Wonk Room for a measure-by-measure comparison. But the main points of difference, if the rumours turn out to be accurate, would appear to be the sector-by-sector phasing in of emission caps, the limited scope of cap-and-trade, and greater support for nuclear power, offshore drilling and possibly "clean" coal.

The bill would reportedly require the cancellation of many state-level legal actions that are vexing the corporate sector, and could even lead to negation of the Environmental Protection Agency's mandate to control carbon emissions.

Some reluctant senators are - again, reportedly - being wooed with the promise that their coastal states will receive a share of the income from offshore drilling.

Oil wellThe problem with giveaways is that what placates one group can end up alienating another. And these are not trivial issues; billions of dollars are at stake, and it's not surprising therefore that some senators who have been generally supportive are now finding reasons to baulk.

As in many countries, businesses are divided on the measure. While some detest anything that might disrupt what they see as essential freedoms, others are urging legislators to set down a coherent policy framework for the next decade at least in order than they can make better-informed investment decisions.

In the main, environmental groups are for now hanging in there behind the much-reformed legislation, though it is causing a deal of angst.

Many of the old heads remember the Bush years and calculate that the new bill is the only game in town; politics is after all, as Bismarck noted 150 years ago - 40 years after Fourier described the greenhouse effect - the art of the possible.

Some of these groups may be able to live with support for offshore drilling. But less palatable morsels might soon occupy their plate.

Logically, the net impact of the new bill on greenhouse gas emissions - if the rumours are broadly correct - ought to be less than the cuts of 17-20% from current levels by 2020 that were promised during the presidential election campaign, contained in the Waxman-Markey bill and pledged to the international community around the Copenhagen summit.

If that turns out to be the case, then we may see a weakening of support among the environmental movement, with, presumably, a concomitant weakening of support from green-tinged senators.

The political pathways become even harder to guess at when you factor in the influences that other issues and events may have.

Joseph FourierIf, as some liberal commentators suggest, poor Americans feel themselves to be better off over the next few months as their access to affordable healthcare increases while rich ones find that reforms have not brought the sky down on their heads, will that give the climate bill added support?

What of reforms to the financial sector, of relations with China, of the weather?

If the prospects of passing a climate bill appear impossibly finely-balanced, there is one other question that deserves attention: would the bill make any real impact on climate change?

At least one liberal commentator is already arguing that it would not; that the prospects of a meaningful bill are so slight as to render the entire edifice merely a mirage.

There's an echo of Copenhagen here. Would a "bad deal" be worse than no deal? The UK's position leading up to the talks was that it would be, and that the government would not support an outcome that did not contain several key ingredients.

Yet in the end it did, along with many other governments that had similar reservations about the Copenhagen Accord.

Why? Because it was all that was possible, and because emerging with something permits a victory jig, however tuneless, whereas empty hands beg only a humbling.

For those reasons, one suspects the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill will enter the Senate at some point this year in a form that has been melded to garner as much support as is feasible.

Whether it passes is another matter. But it is surely more likely to be tabled, and more likely to pass, than if Mr Obama were licking his wounds (or having corporate health providers expensively licking them for him) in the aftermath of a healthcare defeat.

Comments

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  • 1. At 1:54pm on 23 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    There is always a competition between the influence of big business and the people. President Obama was elected because the imbalance was too great and as he attempts to move toward more balanced policies the influence of big business fights against all change. We all have been effected by the unregulated banks and even after they destroyed national and global economies the efforts to regulate them remains difficult. This will be the same fight over climate change. Governments are reactive not preventive. The maintenance of the status quo is the art of politics. the pressure for clean energy and the need to rebuild economies will force changes in most countries. The continued use of fossile fuels and the negative impacts on the environment will require changes. The vested interest will try to maintain their advantage and use political means to achieve this as long as they can. Transitions will take place because they are needed. Everyone understands that a new fuel source(s) will have economic and political implications. The assumption that climate change responsiveness means a reduction in the quality of life is simply not supported in the history of energy production as each new source has improved the quality of life for most people. The bigger issue is regulating the banks as they and their big business partners can lend or not lend for new energy development....being who they are..once a new source is developed they will change from obstructionist to supporters if there is money to be made. Bankers have no national interest. The next big change will probably be that of individual production of energy for homes and transportation and the need for large power production will be greatly reduced. The current path is a dead end. A sandstrom from Northwest China combined with existing pollution has made the air in Beijing and Hong Kong difficult to breath, schools closed and people warned to stay inside..

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  • 2. At 2:03pm on 23 Mar 2010, minuend wrote:

    The coming US elections means the US administration will be focusing on the economy and jobs. Potential damaging arguements over the huge costs of greening the economy and green jobs means that there will NOT be any action over climate change this year.

    It ain't going to happen.

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  • 3. At 2:14pm on 23 Mar 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    Wow, I read your article, and actually had to stop and formulate how to put these two very different pieces of legislation together; I knew they had to meet in overall American policy.
    Will the Healthcare Bill clear the path for a climate bill this year, as some believe? It’s too smoggy to tell for sure, but I'm not one of the believers.
    It seems odd to me that the United States Government would pass a HealthCare Bill, seemingly to help people stay alive; and yet, not jump all over the climate change bill (sitting in the Senate) in order to ensure the living can keep on breathing, which is also important to their health.
    Who really wins under Obamacare?
    BRAND-NAME DRUGMAKERS, such as Pfizer and Merck & Co. While the bill sets up a regulatory path for generic versions of expensive biologic drugs, Amgen and Roche's Genentech unit and other biological drugmakers won a 12-YEAR PERIOD of exclusive sales for brand-name drugs.
    INSURANCE COMPANIES gain more customers.
    MEDICAL DEVICE MANUFACTURERES (such as Boston Scientific and Medtronic) get a reduced industry tax of $20 billion, down from $40 billion.
    PRESCIPTION INDUSTRY (such as Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions), will see mega-increased volumes.
    So under Obamcare the big winners are Insurance companies, brand-name drug manufactuers, pharmacist-related.
    Okay, how does this part of my analysis merge with Climate Change? The Democratic-controlled House passed the climate change bill (coincidentally) by a vote of 219-212. Climate change bill sits in the Senate; so the longer Senatorial debate continues around the HealthCare Bill, the longer will become an acceptable delay for starting any debate on the Climate Chanbge Bill. Healthcare is simply more important, right? (This is not first climate change bill that has gotten stuck in the Senate; unfortunately, at least one actually expired. This was before Obamacare.)
    After the House vote on climate change, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hoped the Senate might pass the bill "this fall." The bill requires that large US companies, including utilities, oil refiners, manufacturers and others,reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (and other poluting gases by 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050, compared to levels in 2005). These are not great tragets; yet, Obama said the United States had to work with developing countries to ensure their "obligations are clear" on fighting global warming. (Was it my imagination or have India and China both submitted plans to the United Nations?)
    Although climate change is most damaging at the artic poles, Congress breaks along regional, American geography - pitting Midwestern and Southern states heavily reliant on dirty coal against coastal areas, where cleaner energies may be possible.
    In my opinion, from all of the foregoing, the American Government is an egocentric Government with an arrogant President. Worse than this, it is a coporate egocentric Government; in other words, the little people don't count for much. Corporations, coorporate profit is the name of the game, and for these reasons, the United States can never be a good (or even accceptable) world citizen. It’s all about the US and keeping the elite as rich as possible, as profitable as possible, and that I believe will be its inevitable downfall.

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  • 4. At 2:17pm on 23 Mar 2010, LarryKealey wrote:


    While I am disappointed with the passage of the heath care bill - and I live in the US with no insurance and have been very ill...

    I believe that Obama and Pelosi have expended a great deal of 'political capital' on the passage of health care 'reform'. I am not so sure they have enough left to ensure passage of a climate bill - particularly before mid-term elections. In the elections, I think we will see the republican party make gains in both houses, effectively eliminating the possibility of passage.

    I am also in agreement that the passage of a 'bad deal' would be worse than 'no deal'.

    Cheers.

    Kealey

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  • 5. At 4:32pm on 23 Mar 2010, Rather_Be_Cycling wrote:

    Sure why not? The chances are already good that the Democrats will be trounced this autumn anyway so they might as well try and pass more legislation that the American people are manifestly opposed to that addresses a "problem" entirely of Al Gore's making in the first place. The key is the focus on anything, everything except what the American people DO care about: the economy, jobs and national debt. So far the Democrats are doing great. And their polls numbers show the result.

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  • 6. At 5:46pm on 23 Mar 2010, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    I find it quite curious that the Republican Party is making the same noises about scrapping Obama's health reforms as the British Tory party did when they came back to power in the fifties after the NHS was created by the Labour party. Churchill wanted to scrap the NHS after all.

    Why do right wing parties so despise their own electorate that they want them to be bankrupted by illness? It is a result of their natural predilection towards intolerance and a general hatred of others?

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  • 7. At 6:54pm on 23 Mar 2010, Rather_Be_Cycling wrote:

    "6. At 5:46pm on 23 Mar 2010, John_from_Hendon wrote:
    Why do right wing parties so despise their own electorate that they want them to be bankrupted by illness? It is a result of their natural predilection towards intolerance and a general hatred of others?"

    Hmmm. Let's see what the electorate in the USA wants. Fully 60 per cent are opposed to this legislation. Only 25 percent are in favour of it. Yet the Democrats pushed it through anyway. Just who "despises" who in this process? Who listens to what the people want? It sure isn't the Democrats.

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  • 8. At 8:54pm on 23 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    when the Republicans voted to bail out the banks and most on the right say they were against that, they have no problem with the republicans who made that vote. Yet when the Democrats vote for healthcare they are opposed to that and say they didn't listen to the people...polls indicate a minority of the people against. Seems they have two sets of standards...do as I say and not as I do...motto of the Republican Party.

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  • 9. At 10:46pm on 23 Mar 2010, Veronica wrote:

    I hope not. One of these bills is based on common sense and the decent thing to do for society. The other one is based on pseudo-science and unwarranted hype.

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  • 10. At 11:37pm on 23 Mar 2010, xtragrumpymike2 wrote:

    One thing that always bothers me is what I call the government decision making process.
    In any democracy, the principle is that we the general public elect someone to REPRESENT US in government.
    The person whom we elect doesn't need to be a specialist or expert in any particular discipline, but just needs to listen well to the requests of his/her constituents and take their concerns and wishes to government for consideration.
    Ideally this person (our elected representative) would be an Independent, of no "Party" allegiance.

    Unfortunately life doesn't work that way.

    Our "representative" will almost certainly belong to a political party, and will be required to "toe" the party line.

    Sometimes the "party line" is dictated to the government by big financial influence. After all in just about every "so-called" democracy, at election times, a lot of money needs to be expended on "campaigning". Where does that money come from? Much of it comes from "donations" and at the end of the day these "donors" expect a return for their financial input......and so our "elected governments" are sometimes required to "kiss backside" ( I would normally have used a slightly different word!)

    End result? Democracy goes out the window!

    Another way governments make decisions is based on advice received from so-called "experts" employed in various government departments.We all have our opinions of "experts"!!!!!!!!!!!!That's another long story!!!!!!!!!


    Climate Change. Is it natural is it man-made? Some say one thing some say exactly the opposite!Even the "experts" can't agree. Who should "we" choose to believe? But at the end of the day, that may be immaterial...............There's BIG money at stake either way.

    If we listen to the likes of Jim Hansen, the last thing we should be using is coal.But there is a lot of money invested in coal.

    Larry Kealey points out very logically, that it will take about 50 years to move completely from coal to some alternative which might in many cases be nuclear or whatever.Hansen and co tell us we don't have that amount of time . Ironically, only "time" will tell. You and I won't have much say in the matter.

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  • 11. At 00:28am on 24 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    I think President Obama is on a roll.

    He has his humanity back, after a severe bruising in the first year in office.

    What do I mean by his humanity back?

    He's doing the right thing, and telling the American people, if you don't like it, throw me out.

    As Andrew Jackson said:

    "One man with courage makes a majority."
    ========================================

    I just read a 1990 article by Wallace Broecker, dean of climatology, and very human. He speaks so clearly, and his insights are so profound. I presume this is genius.

    The article was: "What Drives Glacial Cycles?" (Scientific American, January 1990).

    There's a conference upcoming here in Calgary this coming October, at the university I often blog from: "Under Western Skies", and it hopes for not only a multi-disciplinary approach to climate change, but a cross-cultural, humanistic take on things - artists welcome!

    I've asked to be a presenter, though I have no experience in this sort of venue.

    I might decide to follow up on the topic my former website was evolving towards, the links between mountaineering and civilization.

    As Richard Black points out, though in less graphic terms than I - nothing is working as regards real mitigation - nothing at all.
    ======================

    News:

    From the BBC:

    Dinosaurs' dominance 'helped by mass volcanism'
    By Paul Rincon
    Science reporter, BBC News
    ----------

    This is all about the CAMP flood basalt province, which forms the Pallisades of the Hudson River in New York, where Lamont Doherty Geological Observatory is located, and Columbia University, where Wallace Broecker, mentioned earlier, spent his career. It is also Columbia University that James Hansen is affiliated with, and from which his personal climate science website resides, if that is the correct cyber-term. Part of it is on the European side of the Atlantic, as this was a rifting event.

    CAMP - the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province - largest in the Solar System, according to Paul Rincon, and source of the CO2 which probably drove the end-Triassic Mass Extinction, one of the big ones.

    This is Peter Ward territory, the paleontologist from the University of Washington who specializes in mass extinctions, and wrote "Under a Green Sky," and who has a new book coming out this June - a real doom and gloomer - skeptics beware!

    Milankovitch orbital cycles are probably the prime climate driver of the Ice Ages of the Pleistocene, but not of this present global warming.

    Probably that is being driven by CO2, and though we are the producers of this traceable fossil-fuel molecule, a flood basalt province is a prolific producer of CO2 as well.

    Greenhouse events - Greenhouse Extinctions - this is where it's at for me.
    =================

    Etc...

    Complex systems have one seemingly understandable attribute - they fail, and the point of failure is unpredictable - only the failure is certain.

    The intuitive mind is a marvel of evolution, but it can be brought to a standstill by one thing - a flood of information.

    We live in a complex world now, with teleconnections running every which way, and we are now subject to a flood of information.

    The writing is on the proverbial wall.

    - Manysummits -



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  • 12. At 03:22am on 24 Mar 2010, Wulf wrote:

    There’s no such thing as “clean coal” – just “slightly less dirty coal”. IMHO, a bill with significant coal support in it would in fact be worse than no bill at all. It’ll just turn into the next corn ethanol.

    For a good summary of “clean coal” and why it isn’t a real option, I recommend “The Myth of Clean Coal”, from the February issue of Popular Mechanics, also available online at http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4339171.html and for further reading, http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/01/mountaintop-coal-mining-harmful-to-valley-ecosystems.ars

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  • 13. At 04:50am on 24 Mar 2010, TeaPot562 wrote:

    China is now planning to build more than forty nuclear plants between now and 2020 -- that will at some point give them an edge in non-CO2 producing electrical generation. Since Pres. Obama seems to like to imitate socialist countries in other ways, perhaps he can encourage building new nuclear plants in the U.S.
    TeaPot562

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  • 14. At 07:45am on 24 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #3 BluesBerry wrote:

    "It seems odd to me that the United States Government would pass a HealthCare Bill, seemingly to help people stay alive; and yet, not jump all over the climate change bill (sitting in the Senate) in order to ensure the living can keep on breathing"

    There is much confusion over whether this is the issue. Some people talk as if climate change will kill living people. Others talk as if it would do the very same as contraception: fewer people will be born.

    You need to get it staight in your own mind what you are worried about, killing or contraception.

    Huge numbers of people die from diseases every day. Comparatively few people die from storm surges. As far as I can see, storm surges are the only source of death that could increase with global warming, and even that isn't an inevitable consequence, as higher sea levels result in a smaller area overall of low-lying land.

    Until you can clarify what we're all supposed to be worried about, and why, it all looks and sounds like the Three Stooges running around in a silly confused tizzy.

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  • 15. At 09:36am on 24 Mar 2010, CanadianRockies wrote:

    Anyone who thinks there will be any serious action on this issue in the U.S. or anywhere just has not been paying attention to what is happening in the real world.

    See France for example. Or Australia. Or India. Etc.

    This issue is dead. The IPCC gang has no clothes. The obvious shift for the Big Green Crisis industrial complex that was banking on Copenhagen and all that will be from the big 'planetary fever' scare tactics to sensible arguments about energy efficiency. That has been the valuable goal all along but there was just so much money to be made in the big carbon trading bonanza the Green Wall Streeters were salivating over.

    Tsk, tsk. Al Gore won't be a billionaire after all.


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  • 16. At 10:06am on 24 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    \\\ Yvon Chouinard - Climber & Businessman ///

    I was sent this link below by a friend - an audio interview with Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and Black Diamond.

    My ice-axe is a Chouinard original - this guy is for real.

    He talks about climate change and environmental degradation in this interview - I was blown away. His overall view would be that of either of the two James - Lovelock & Hansen:

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/02/the_th_interview_yvon_chouinard.php?campaign=TH_sbl_radio

    - Manysummits -

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  • 17. At 1:54pm on 24 Mar 2010, SR wrote:

    The most important question to ask is what should the elected political leaders of the world's democracies base their decisions on climate change policy on?

    Should it be based on an undercurrent of doubt created by a growing sceptic movement, of which only a handful of its proponents are actually experts in the subject? Or should it based on a clear scientific consensus with an ever-growing body of evidence?

    If the evidence continues to grow and the upcoming investigations into the scientific practices of a small number of the accused scientists reveals that no significant amendment to the body of evidence supporting the consensus view is necessary, the sphere of influence possessed by the laymen AGW scpetic community floats away from where they stand. Unfortunately for the sceptics, the responsibility for proving AGW wrong or holding it to account for being 'wrong' resides with those people clever and educated enough to contribute significantly to the scientific debate. So either hit the books or hope that the next generation of climate scientists have a different way of interpreting the evidence.

    I seriously doubt they will.

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  • 18. At 4:12pm on 24 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Teapot:

    Another critic that simply is ignorant of the facts. President Obama, just recently approved loan guarentees for the development of nuclear power plants and for your information the US has more nuclear plants than any other country. Right wing talk show regurgitationsist. By the way, things like the military and police and fire are all acts of socialism...but I wouldn't expect you or your brethern to know what socialism means.

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  • 19. At 4:27pm on 24 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 20. At 7:09pm on 24 Mar 2010, Pkthinks wrote:

    Bowmanthebard and SR ask how to formulate policy?

    This is a question that has plagued society for generations. On one hand it seems clear we should make decisions in the best interest of our people and the global community.

    So as to the nature of evidence? I say we need to seperate the discussions from, religion money and politics(media). For these represent the demon haunted world we struggle in.

    Is there any truly independant voice for policy makers to listen to? No, and if they are not educated to understand the evidence and the significance different degrees of risk we will waste money and lives.

    I think once upon a time scientists did not require followers to advocate change but now commonly belong to grandiose institutions who commision research which easily gets published in peer review journals.

    So if anyone truly believes the world does not require sceptics I say you are mistaken, the truth of 'evidence' takes time effort and much debate

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  • 21. At 9:13pm on 24 Mar 2010, blunderbunny wrote:

    @SR

    If what you were saying were true, then there really wouldn't be much point in your post, and there's the rub.....

    You guys are losing the battle for hearts and minds with the public, you're increasingly failing to win over the policy makers, especially in America, the science is looking more and more dodgy by the month and the scientists (I use that word in its absolutely loosest sense) involved are facing more and more public scrutiny - It's really not looking good for you lot ;-)

    About the best your side of the argument can hope for in the near future is a month without any more embarrassing stories.

    And, just for the record, science is never and I really do mean, never, conducted by consensus - So stop using the word. If those involved in the field of climate science do not fully grasp that particular nuance, then it's them that should be heading back into higher education, as they were quite obviously asleep for most of it the first time round!






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  • 22. At 02:24am on 25 Mar 2010, throwdown wrote:

    @6: "Why do right wing parties so despise their own electorate that they want them to be bankrupted by illness? It is a result of their natural predilection towards intolerance and a general hatred of others?"

    You consider that to be tolerant and open-minded ? That statement is the definition of intolerance and condemnation. "They don't think like me, so they're intolerant and full of hate... not loving and understanding, like me."

    Please recall the most murderous party in human history was not the Nazis, but rather the Communists - as left wing as left wing gets.

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  • 23. At 10:17am on 25 Mar 2010, manysummits wrote:

    Hello Ghost!

    Indeed, police and fire and the military are all forms of socialism.

    As former small businessman, I marvel at the machinations of our large publicly-held corporations, which is I suppose, another form of socialism. The true welfare recipients in North America are the big corporations, whose psychopathic devotion to the bottom line requires that they be given incentives for staying and providing employment.

    The more I think about the current state of affairs all inclusively, the more I think our corporations, all of them, need to be restructured by an act of democracy.

    They have outlived their usefullness in their present configuration.

    Trees should have standing, as suggested by the professor of law Christopher Stone, and the modern corporation, which is really no longer modern at all, needs to be re-designed, so that the number one commitment is to the commons.

    Surely we have enough smart politicians and lawyers that they should step forward and make recommendations?

    Until the corporate structure and their legal mandates are re-written, I see little hope for our collective future.

    And the prospect of bringing the majority of people up to speed on climate change and the idea of Planetary Boundaries in any meaningful way is virtually non-existent. I think collectively we lack both the courage and the imagination for this approach.

    What to do then?

    I am not expecting the re-configuration of the present crop of Frankenstein corporations any time soon. Nor do I expect our politicians to lead.

    Adapt?? In a word - desperation. It is not possible to adapt to the coming hot age, other than to have our numbers reduced to a few hundreds of millions, and even that may be optimistic.

    Maybe we just need to become uncivilized - that is at least possible?

    - Manysummits -

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  • 24. At 10:48am on 25 Mar 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    #23 manysummits wrote:

    "The more I think about the current state of affairs all inclusively, the more I think our corporations, all of them, need to be restructured by an act of democracy."

    I trust you are including "scientific" decision-making bodies in these corporations. The world is reasonably safe as long as The general public can democratically decide whether or not to weak havoc and famine on a global scale by putting the world's economies into reverse.

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  • 25. At 12:24pm on 25 Mar 2010, infiniti wrote:

    "but I wouldn't expect you or your brethern to know what socialism means."

    socialism means stealing money from people who work and giving it to people who cannot be bothered to work. imho

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  • 26. At 1:32pm on 25 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    ManySummits:

    You are absolutely correct about big business and the unwillingness to adapt to this new environment. US big business has become lazy and relies on political influence to restrict competition and is satisfied with market shares that keep them profitable. Big business in the US is a corporate welfare state. It is funny to watch the right wing supporters rail against soical programs without understanding how much corporate welfare there is in the US. Their taxes are used at all levels of government to support private sector ventures and provide tax breaks, infrastructure, etc. They are supporting what they say they are against. Fools and fanatics are always in the front lines. The US will fall behind. I see the US much like the Japanese of the 90's. Unwilling to make the political and business adjustment necessary to compete in a new environment. South and Southeast Asia are like Taiwan, Japan and Korea of 30 years ago. The West will either adopt or be playing a secondary role in these markets as China postures to be the primary supplier and financier for this area. The history of the West in Asia makes any re-entry difficult as the memories dictate caution. The bankers and big business sold the West out and as they lick their wounds the rest of the world moves forward. The right wing becomes more militant like a dinosaur in death throes. Like the Abbot would say, the impermance of all things.

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  • 27. At 4:24pm on 25 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    # bowmanthe bard
    "As far as I can see, storm surges are the only source of death that could increase with global warming, and even that isn't an inevitable consequence, as higher sea levels result in a smaller area overall of low-lying land." - i don;t think you're seeing too far. droughts (possibly caused by the relatively small climate change to date) have led to some significant deaths already (darfur was probably less to do with ethnicity than land issues caused by drought).

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  • 28. At 4:34pm on 25 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #infinity
    "socialism means stealing money from people who work and giving it to people who cannot be bothered to work. imho" - i think you'll find that's the daily mail/sky news definition. try reading some books.

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  • 29. At 5:29pm on 25 Mar 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    The impact is similar to that of meat production.

    If you believe pseudo-scientists promoting their pet political agenda.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    CAPITALISM PRODUCES CAPITAL; SOCIALISM - MISERY


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  • 30. At 6:26pm on 25 Mar 2010, Peter317 wrote:

    @Rossglory #28:

    "i think you'll find that's the daily mail/sky news definition. try reading some books."

    The books describe the theory of what socialism ought to be in an ideal world. The reality of it in a far-from-ideal world is somewhat different.
    You don't have to read the dm or watch sky to know that - you just need to open your eyes.

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  • 31. At 6:31pm on 25 Mar 2010, Peter317 wrote:

    @Rossglory #27:

    If you read a history book or two, you'll find that drought has always been endemic in Africa. Which is why most African tribes are historically nomadic.

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  • 32. At 6:35pm on 25 Mar 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #29 powermeerkat

    "CAPITALISM PRODUCES CAPITAL; SOCIALISM - MISERY" - i think you'll find that's the daily mail/sky news definition. try reading some books.

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  • 33. At 6:41pm on 25 Mar 2010, Peter317 wrote:

    @SR #17:

    "Should it be based on an undercurrent of doubt created by a growing sceptic movement, of which only a handful of its proponents are actually experts in the subject?"

    Who's going to fund a large body of sceptical experts? Big oil? And who would then believe them?

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  • 34. At 02:36am on 26 Mar 2010, TeaPot562 wrote:

    @Ghost #18;
    The U.S. may in fact have more nuclear plants than any single other country; but most of our plants were built before 1980. As a proportion of electricity generated by nuclear plants, the U.S. is far behind both Japan and France. Also, nuclear plants designed in the last decade should be both more efficient and more reliable. It takes some experience running such an installation to know when the inevitable failures in the plumbing (caused by radiation damage - I know of no materials that are totally resistant to radiation) become probable. Replacement of the piping must be scheduled on a regular basis.
    This country currently has about 310 million - much smaller than China or India, but roughly equivalent to the EU less Poland, Slovakia & the Czech Republic.
    Given our size and our consumption of electrical power, we lag other industrial nations.
    TeaPot562

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  • 35. At 3:27pm on 26 Mar 2010, SR wrote:

    @peter317
    "Who's going to fund a large body of sceptical experts? Big oil? And who would then believe them?"

    --------------------------------------------

    The experts holding a sceptical viewpoint are in short supply. It doesn't matter where the funding comes from, this would not change. Science is not partisan in that way. The current situation can be summarised as follows: ~97% of the world experts support AGW. The experts (i.e., those with a strong reputation in the field) opposing, or critical of the "consensus view" are invariably eccentrics who enjoy the attention and are prepared to gamble on near impossible limits in the variables to support their counter theories.

    The sceptic arguments usually have no foundation. Once you trace them back to their source, you'll realise that an elaborate game of chinese whispers has been played and the initial argument stands no chance against the peer reviewed science. Of course, the media and a growing band of sceptics are whipping themselves up into a frenzy because they have no prerequisite baseline for the rigour required before these arguments are released, distorted and perpetuated.

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  • 36. At 5:22pm on 26 Mar 2010, Peter317 wrote:

    @SR #35:

    "The experts holding a sceptical viewpoint are in short supply. It doesn't matter where the funding comes from, this would not change. Science is not partisan in that way. The current situation can be summarised as follows: ~97% of the world experts support AGW."

    How many experts were there ~30 years ago, when this thing first kicked off? And what was the mix at the time?
    Just wondering out loud...

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  • 37. At 03:17am on 29 Mar 2010, throwdown wrote:

    @23: "Indeed, police and fire and the military are all forms of socialism."

    Absurd. All those things pre-existed socialism. How sad that socialism would attempt to take credit for things which existed before socialism was born. Far worse that someone attempts to justify and legitimize socialism using such a patently false statement.

    I suppose some things are so ridiculous they can only be believed by "intellectuals".

    Oh, and one more thing... Johannes Gutenberg didn't invent the printing press. I did. :D lol

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  • 38. At 03:23am on 29 Mar 2010, throwdown wrote:

    @SR #35:

    "The experts holding a sceptical viewpoint are in short supply. It doesn't matter where the funding comes from, this would not change. Science is not partisan in that way. The current situation can be summarised as follows: ~97% of the world experts support AGW."

    Not so.

    To use a phrase such as "support AGW" is to simplify to such an extreme degree as to lose any value.

    The undeniable reality is this : of these 97% you claim "support AGW", not one of them can say what PORTION of climate change is due to human causes. A better way to claim "support for AGW" is to say many feel that a PORTION of climate change is due to anthropogenic causes.

    Anyone who says "global warming is caused by humans" implies it is caused ENTIRELY by humans. Those people are wrong, they are dead wrong, they could not be more wrong.

    I challenge you to show me one credible witness who will put a number on it - tell me what percentage of climate change is due to human causes. Not ONE of the climate change enthusiasts can do it. Not one.

    And yet they're screaming hysterically about something about which they can't answer basic questions.

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  • 39. At 03:27am on 29 Mar 2010, throwdown wrote:

    @34: "As a proportion of electricity generated by nuclear plants, the U.S. is far behind both Japan and France...Given our size and our consumption of electrical power, we lag other industrial nations."

    Add Sweden to the list above.

    The only reason we lag is due to the obstructionist tactics of extremist environmentalists who don't know the difference 'twixt an isomer and an isotope. Sadly, the media and Hollywood perpetuate myth using propaganda films such as "The China Syndrome".

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  • 40. At 3:52pm on 29 Mar 2010, SR wrote:

    @throwdown 38

    Nobody should say that all of the warming is due to human influences.

    The AGW theory states that the warming is *largely* caused by human emissions of CO2. What proportion ia impossible to determine, but a probabilistic assessment can quite easily be made leading to a confident conclusion that human emissions of CO2 is a major driver of increased global temperatures over a period exceeding natural variability (i.e., 25-30 years plus).

    Nothing can ever be known for sure but there's a huge amount of evidence pointing toward man made emissions causing climate change. If you demand a definitive answer or an exact figure on the attribution, we'd be waiting forever to act. If we employed the same logic in other walks of life, all criminals would be walking free because the weight of evidence would never be quite good enough to warrant a conviction.

    When discussing France, it should be remembered that one of the primary reasons they have so much nuclear is because they have limited resources of coal. This makes nuclear a sensible (even though slightly more expensive) option. The UK and lots of other countries sit on coal, so their generating infrastructure was built up around it. I think France do not deserve the credit they get sometimes, they just got a little bit lucky.

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  • 41. At 6:55pm on 29 Mar 2010, Peter317 wrote:

    @SR #40:

    "If we employed the same logic in other walks of life, all criminals would be walking free because the weight of evidence would never be quite good enough to warrant a conviction."

    Would you rather have it that you could be convicted of murder on the evidence that a blurry CCTV image showed that someone who looked a bit like you you was in the area 5 years before the crime was committed?

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  • 42. At 8:05pm on 29 Mar 2010, SR wrote:

    @peter317

    "Would you rather have it that you could be convicted of murder on the evidence that a blurry CCTV image showed that someone who looked a bit like you you was in the area 5 years before the crime was committed? "


    No. I prefer the current system, where guilt has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. In the case of AGW, the 'guilt' required to be proven is weaker than the guilt required to convict some criminals. This is because for AGW, the crime only has to be that man made emissions are largely, or even significantly responsible for the warming, not COMPLETELY responsible. This has already been shown to be true by the accumulation of dozens of separate lines of evidence from decades of peer reviewed research. Some might say science is not done by consensus, but a political response must be based on the combined weight of several separate strands of evidence, just like in a criminal court.

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  • 43. At 11:10pm on 29 Mar 2010, LarryKealey wrote:

    8. At 8:54pm on 23 Mar 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    when the Republicans voted to bail out the banks and most on the right say they were against that, they have no problem with the republicans who made that vote.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Ah, excuse me - it was the democrats who passed the bank bail-out legislation - without even reading it - 1200 pages of it, which included massive bonuses for execs of the failed banks - democrats - like Nancy Pelosi - who was Speaker of the House and Harry Reid, Majority Whip in the Senate when the legislation was passed.

    Please get your facts straight...;)

    Cheers.

    Kealey

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  • 44. At 3:38pm on 30 Mar 2010, Hairy Dan wrote:

    xtragrumpymike2 wrote:
    'Climate Change. Is it natural is it man-made? Some say one thing some say exactly the opposite!Even the "experts" can't agree. Who should "we" choose to believe?'

    Actually Mike, the vast majority of climate scientists agree it's man-made. You say 'We all have our opinions of "experts"' - yours seems to be that an unfounded rumour spread by politicians is a better source of information than the careful work of thousands of the world's best-informed people on the subject in question. If that is the case you are wrong, pure and simple. Decorating your opinions with dozens of exclamation marks is no substitute for basing them on sound facts.

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  • 45. At 7:47pm on 07 Dec 2010, Commando1978 wrote:

    Fantastic debate here, excellent stuff. As the article states If and when a bill does go forward, however, it will be a very different beast from the original bill....!!!!!!!!

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