19 May, 2006

Everyone can stop worrying about that asteroid impact, I've found my umbrella!

Without CO2, we couldn't enjoy the miracle of dandelion puffs.
Hedgehog points me to a pair of commercials produced by the Competitive Enterprise Institute*, which, incredibly, seeks to rehabilitate carbon dioxide emissions. "Carbon dioxide - they call it pollution. We call it life." I kid you not. Their selling point is that carbon dioxide isn't so bad because we breathe it out. Who doesn't like choking on their own waste gases?

The second of these commercials refers to some studies in Science that it suggests contradicts the recently publicized message that ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are shrinking, and that we therefore shouldn't worry about sea level rise (but should instead breathe in some of that wonderful carbon dioxide). The first of these studies was Johannessen, et al., "Recent Ice-Sheet Growth in the Interior of Greenland". The second was Davis, et al., "Snowfall-Driven Growth in East Antarctic Ice Sheet Mitigates Recent Sea-Level Rise". Both of these are from mid-2005. CEI might be correct to complain about the sensationalist nature of science reporting. I've griped about this in the past, and I've been annoyed in the past few days by the spate of bestiality-tinted stories about David Reich's paper about the speciation history of chimps and humans, with headlines like "Did early humans and chimps interbreed?". But it's just plain wrong to present these papers as a counter to the idea that ice sheets are shrinking.

First, these studies (both of which rely on European radio satellite (ERS) data), while perfectly reasonable, are focused on subsets of Greenland and Antarctica. The former concludes that on average between 1992 and 2003, the ice sheet in Greenland increased on average, based on their observation of an increase in high-altitude (1500m +) regions. However, more recent analysis has demonstrated that glacial flow is accelerating - rapidly - and that this increasing flow of ice has dominated in the past five years.

The latter study discusses increased snowfall deposits in East Antarctica, which amount to about -0.12 mm/year of sea level rise. If you'll recall from my last post on this subject, the West Antarctic ice sheet is decaying, producing a gain of about 0.4 mm/year of sea level rise. It's pretty well agreed that the latter is definitely the dominating effect. At any rate one should still be alarmed by the fact that you're getting increased snowfall in what was previously so cold it was the driest desert in the world.

These are not settled questions, by an means, of course. But one should at least find the very reasonable prospect of these observations being correct, and the concomittant catastrophe they imply, terribly frightening. Unless, that is, one happens to be a shill for the ostrich-like powers-that-be, desperately clinging to that source of power no matter what the consequences. We (the rest of the world), however, have no reason to consider ourselves beholden to fossil fuels. No reason to cling to the past, is there, "Competitive Enterprise" Institute?

* Yes, that is me biking in the rain in that second commercial.

I have it on good authority that next month the CEI is planning on releasing a series of commercials encouraging us to rethink our attitudes towards urine. "Isn't it about time YOU had a Golden Shower?"


silly child. drowning is impossible. don't you drink water every morning and every night? go swim and don't come back until you've returned to me my pretty anchor. 

Posted by hibiscus

CEI is supported by large donations from Exxon Mobil Corp. If you Google "Exxon site:cei.org" you get scores of hits, including a defense of the merger between Exxon and Mobil as pro-consumer. (!)

2002 : $405,000 (biggest recipient of "Public information and policy research" funds that year)
2003: $465,000 (Same story, but still no comparison to $10 million for Masterpiece Theater.)
2004: $270,000

Look through that 2004 report and search for the word "climate": Did they really give money to Africa Fighting Malaria* for "Climate change outreach"? And CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, the group that outflanked MLK to the left in the 1960s, did they really take $135,000 in 2004 from Exxon Mobil's climate change fund? Holy crap. I mean, I guess it's good that not all the money goes to the Fraser Foundation and the Heartland Institute and other head-in-sand-inistas, but how depressing to think that this is what CORE has come to.

Posted by hedgedog

You've seen those headlines about hydrogen bombs. They kill everything. We're doomed.
That's what several studies supposedly found.
But other scientific studies found exactly the opposite. Hydrogen is in water, a basic building block of all living things.
As hydrogen bombs were built over the past 60 years, the human population quadrupled.
Did you see any big headlines about that?
Why are they trying to scare us?
Atomic war alarmists claim cancer comes from radiation that erupts from the H-bombs we use. Let's force people to use uranium bombs, they say.
But we depend on those nukes to cleanse our food, terrify our children and light up Iranian lives.
As for radiation, it's not smog or smoke. It's the same electrons and neutrons found in kittens.
Subatomic particles. They call them pollution. We call them life.

You've seen those headlines about death. It's the end of all earthly
awareness. We're doomed. That's what several studies supposedly found.
But other scientific studies found exactly the opposite.
Eternal life begins at death, it doesn't end there. Tasty and nutritious beef is dead, not alive.
Did you see any big headlines about that?
Why are they trying to scare us?
Death alarmists claim your body will grow cold and stiff, your mind will cease awareness, and your loved ones will grieve as your metabolism ends.
Let's force people to avoid death, they say.
But we depend on death to fertilize the soil, motivate our children, and light up our lives.
As for dead cells, they are what cover a sexy girl's body -- and we breathe in.
Death. They call it the tragic exhaustion of this mortal coil. We call it life. 

Posted by hedgehog

Well, there is http://www.dhmo.org

Someone obviously used the same principle here, only this time it's not funny. 

Posted by DearDarlingDidi

i thought DHMO looked familiar and here's the history  and the original USENET post

Posted by hibiscus

You mean it wasn't  pro-consumer? 

Posted by Jonathan Versen

it was, in the general "not the fall but the sudden stop" sense

(BTW this reminds me of another gag - which i may have made up - and which is ghoulish but then so is the CEI. i have a proposal that will save the san francisco bay area possibly millions of dollars. as many know, there has been long debate about (the aesthetics of) installing a suicide prevention barrier on the golden gate bridge. my proposal would end the debate completely. for a few hundred dollars, the bridge authority can install suicide prevention signage, with messages such as WHY JUMP? IT WON'T CHANGE ANYTHING and IF YOU SURVIVE THE FALL, THE C.I.A. WILL MAKE YOU INTO A BUG-EATING CYBORG and HAVE YOU TRIED DRINKING TO FORGET YOUR TROUBLES? DON'T KNOCK IT and the one that focus groups preferred, ARE YOU SURE YOU LEFT THE NOTE IN THE RIGHT PLACE? - signs like these, in tasteful colors, would greatly enhance the tourist experience.) 

Posted by hibiscus

... and i need someone to tell me why lowering the national car speed limit isn't part of public plans to reduce carbon footprint - it's virtually free and incredibly simple and it's being avoided in polite conversation. the 2 explanations i can think of would be: "it polls badly"; and "must! expedite! trucks!" 

Posted by hibiscus

in the meantime the first part of david "then i fell in love, now i'm a believer" attenborough's new documentary entitled are we a wounded kitten in the path of nature's jetliner , part of the BBC's continuing effort to make the world very very depressed, is now available for torrential download. please use its octagenarian authority responsibly. 

Posted by hibiscus

relating to speed limit. al gore's shopping around a list of things to do. one of the items is "drive less." however in various articles interviewing him about slide show: the movie , none of the following concepts showed up: bicycle. share rides. drive slower. you might say, but those are details, included in "drive less." but you would be wrong, because he thought "keep your tires properly inflated" deserved a line item. 

Posted by hibiscus

the attenborough documentary ended with the same absence of bikes, ride sharing, or speed reduction from solution. bikes were shown and prominently associated with smart people but were left off the official list of things to do.

we were actually shown a person boiling only enough water as needed to make this moment's hot drink, but for transportation, everybody has to get a new car. where we all get that money it wasn't said. maybe from what is saved by turning down the thermostat. 

Posted by hibiscus

according to one of the big car-test web sites, their recent survey of fuel economy methods  demonstrated no significant advantage to monitor tire pressure. other factors are gigantic.

+ smooth, soft acceleration and braking saves fuel. (30%)
+ lower speed saves fuel. (12%, based on 65 and 75 mph)
+ cruise control generally saves fuel. (7%)
+ leaving the engine to idle is costly.

- open windows and air conditioning use similar fuel.
- tire pressure is not significant.

from speaking to a few owners of small hybrid cars, generally one learns to drive smoother pretty quickly because for both the prius and the civic hybrids, smooth use of throttle keeps the car on the batteries more often. you can feel this in the pedal, whether the gas engine is running or not.

in a non-electric vehicle, the driver can "feel" for the fuel economy in how much the vehicle is rolling back under acceleration or forward under braking. the less the vehicle leans, the easier it is on the engine and the better the fuel efficiency. steady use of the pedals also means better control of the vehicle in an emergency so it's a good thing all around.

in my own tests, smooth braking reduces fuel usage largely because it gets the operator's foot off the gas pedal. it's important though that people realize that braking smoothly is a key to getting in a long-view frame of mind, encouraging smoothness of both acceleration and cruising and thus vastly improving fuel economy. 

Posted by hibiscus

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