Ralph Nader for a Carbon Tax in the Wall Street Journal

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Nader is properly worried about the spread of environmental protectionism if a global cap-and-trade climate deal is struck in the next couple of years. As Nader and his co-author Toby Heaps write:

Good intentions to limit big polluters in some countries but not others will turn any meaningful cap into Swiss cheese. It can be avoided by relocating existing and new production of various kinds of CO2-emitting industries to jurisdictions with no or virtually no limits. This is known as carbon leakage, and it leads to trade anarchy.

How? The most advanced piece of climate legislation at the moment, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, contains provisions for retaliatory action to be taken against imports from carbon free-riding nations. Married with the current economic malaise, the temptation to slide into a righteous but runaway environmental protectionism—which Washington's K Street lobbyists would be only too happy to grease—would almost certainly lead to a collapse of the multilateral trading system…

True, trade anarchy might reduce emissions via a massive global depression. But there would be a lot of collateral damage. Because of the sheer scale of the challenge and the state of the hyperglobalized economy, we will need the same price on carbon everywhere, or it won't work anywhere.

Whole Wall Street Journal op/ed here. Some of my thoughts on the rent-seeking disaster that cap-and-trade would be here and here.  One further thought: After advocating a carbon tax as the least bad alternative, I have been persuaded that it's politically impossible. People are not going to vote for a politician who promises to significantly boost what they pay at the pump and pay for power. 

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  1. True, trade anarchy might reduce emissions via a massive global depression.

    Yeah, because people maximizing the stuff they make out of the resources at hand makes us all poorer.

    Nader’s blinkered idiocy continues to amaze.

  2. Damn you Nader! Damn your black heart to hell!

  3. Does Nader still have all those investments in sweatshops? Is that why he’s concerned about anarchy in the developing world?

  4. What the hell is trade anarchy?

  5. Seer,

    Trade anarchy is anything that hurts Nader’s portfolio.

  6. Ron,

    So you are now against both taxes and cap and trade. Does this mean you’ve gone to the “anarchy” side? Are you relying on the current flat global temperature trend continuing?

  7. The politically impossible is happening right now in British Columbia. We’ve had a carbon tax since July 1st, offset by rebates and reductions in provincial income tax. It’s a flawed system in that it doesn’t hit industries directly (just consumers), but at least it’s a start.

  8. Ron,
    So cap-and-trade will lead to a rent-seeking orgy and therefore you have supported a carbon tax. But you have now decided that it is politically impossible since no one in his right mind would vote for a politician who supported one. Does that mean you now support cap and trade? If so do you support it because it is more confusing to voters and politicians are more likely to get away with it?

  9. Classwarrior,

    Bah! (waves hand dismissively)

  10. “This is known as carbon leakage, and it leads to trade anarchy.”

    I’m sold. Sign me up.

    Oh, and FTR, the “Proper Libertarian Response” to carbon emissions is to allow victims of pollution to sue polluters.

  11. @classwarrior

    I’ve found a rubber plug keeps the gerbil from slipping out

  12. I am actually in favor of a carbon tax. The problem is what happens to the proceeds.

    Raise the highway fuel taxes, and use the money for infrastructure maintenance. That part’s pretty easy. What do you do with the taxes collected on coal burned in power generation? Scrubbers?

  13. It sounds like Ron has come to the conclusion that doing nothing is the least evil. I agree, though for far more fundamental reasons. I am glad to hear he finally got there, whatever the reason.

  14. Carbon leakage leads to other people getting rich and us getting poor. In a sane world it would be called exporting wealth and productivity. But hey it will make people like class warrior feel better so lets do it anyway.

  15. “Raise the highway fuel taxes, and use the money for infrastructure maintenance. That part’s pretty easy. What do you do with the taxes collected on coal burned in power generation? Scrubbers?”

    They already do that. A modern coal plant produces nothing but ash, which is buried in the ground, steam and CO2. Clean coal technology should have been a godsend. Instead thanks to the hairshirt religion known as global warmism, it has been turned into a bogeyman.

  16. I might as well give a plug to the Carbon Tax Center.

  17. Don’t kid yourself, John, “clean coal” is basically a marketing term/buzzword. It still produces pollution from burning it. To say nothing about the process it takes to mine it.

    Nuclear > coal.

  18. Is there any other first world country that uses coal like we do to produce electricity? Hell no. It’s a backwards way of producing energy.

  19. There is no way to offset a carbon tax and still have it be effective. The idea is to make carbon more expensive so people use less of it. That means they either consume less or spend more money than they would have otherwise on carbon free technology. Either way they are poorer than they were before. Let’s say a joule of energy costs 10 cents with coal and 15 cents with solar or wind or whatever carbon neutral energy. You tax carbon so people use the more expensive form of energy. That means people pay more for energy than they would have otherwise and are poorer. There is no way around it.

  20. One further thought: After advocating a carbon tax as the least bad alternative, I have been persuaded that it’s politically impossible.

    Let’s face it, any action on carbon is politically impossible or will be rolled back immediately, and let’s thank God for that.

  21. Ralph Nader writing a column on complex economic subjects in the Wall Street Journal.

    Isn’t that one of the first signs of the Apocalypse?

  22. A modern coal plant produces nothing but ash, which is buried in the ground, steam and CO2.

    Don’t forget flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum. It’s in your walls and maybe even your bread!

  23. “Don’t kid yourself, John, “clean coal” is basically a marketing term/buzzword. It still produces pollution from burning it. To say nothing about the process it takes to mine it”

    Bullshit. It doesn’t produce anything. Go take a tour of a coal plant sometime. Yes, you do have to mine the stuff. But you have to mine uranium to and a nuclear plant is a hell of a lot more expensive than a coal plant. Coal is still the cheapest and most efficient way to produce electricity. The older plants do produce particulates but the new ones don’t. We use coal because we have a ton of it and it is cheap as hell.

  24. What the hell is trade anarchy?

    Free markets is the term we use around here.

  25. “What the hell is trade anarchy?

    Free markets is the term we use around here.”

    Seriously, I think I love that term.

    “Trade anarchy.” Rolls off the tongue. Thanks, Ralph.

  26. I’ll go with a carbon tax if it’s broadly based enough: it should cover everyone’s exhalations.

  27. The older plants do produce particulates but the new ones don’t.

    They still produce mercury and radionuclides. Coal is a really dirty source of energy, and no amount of public relations on the part of the coal companies is going to change that.

    “Clean coal” on an commercially viable scale MIGHT happen in 2020 after a lot of funding and subsidies, which makes it much more expensive. So then it’s no longer cheap. So you go from cheap and really dirty to expensive and mildly dirty.

  28. And then if you want to try for carbon neutral coal (coal that doesn’t produce Co2) that’s even MORE money. At that point you may as well go with nuclear. But like subsidized ethanol, coal has a lot of support in the Congress because of the structure of the Senate.

  29. The nice thing about recessions is that they often occur just when environmentalists are attempting periodic power grabs. Their cash-flow dries up and they go away for a while, but they always come back. No sane country will hobble industry in the current economic climate. Al Gore’s destiny is as a footnote, albeit a bloated one.

  30. Of course, John, the cheapest way to make energy would be just to burn coal in the cheapest manner possible like China. But then our mountains would be destroyed and our cities would look like this, so really it isn’t “cheap”, is it?

  31. “Of course, John, the cheapest way to make energy would be just to burn coal in the cheapest manner possible like China. But then our mountains would be destroyed and our cities would look like this, so really it isn’t “cheap”, is it?”

    Right. It’s “cheap” in the same sense that stealing is cheap.

  32. One further thought: After advocating a carbon tax as the least bad alternative, I have been persuaded that it’s politically impossible. People are not going to vote for a politician who promises to significantly boost what they pay at the pump and pay for power.

    What about a tax at the levels that William Nordhaus finds most economically efficient — the equivalent today of a dime a gallon of gasoline. Do you see it as politically improbable to get a carbon tax only because the people proposing legislation are asking for the tax to be so much higher with much more aggressive targets and used for various rent sought ends?

    Of course, of the alternative carbon tax plans Nordhaus studied, having no tax was second best. It should be the choice until a lot more research is done.

  33. I have four pet squirrels and they are nuts!

  34. Oh yeah, and because the power companies would probably get dragged into multi-billion dollar class action law suits when plant workers get COPD at the age of 35, that makes it a tad “expensive” also.

  35. And let me also say “trade anarchy” is a great term.

    But I think he meant to say “trade chaos” — a clear side effect of the onerous carbon tax proposals of today. And trade chaos often leads to trade war. And trade war often leads to losing the adjective.

    Costs never considered by the “tax it big now” side…

  36. Would the average person accept a carbon tax to mitigate CO2 emissions if he is aware that

    China will build 500 coal-fired power plants in the next decade, at the rate of almost one a week. This massive appetite for coal means equally huge greenhouse gas emissions.

    Ditto for cap and trade. Also, check out how many non-former soviet bloc European nattions are meeting their Kyoto targets.

    In spite of that, the US could mandate that all future electrical generation capacity be met by nuclear or other CO2 free technologies and I would not bitch once.

  37. tax here! tax now!

  38. In spite of that, the US could mandate that all future electrical generation capacity be met by nuclear or other CO2 free technologies and I would not bitch once.

    Yeah. I don’t know if global warming is real or not, and I don’t care, cause we can’t do anything to stop it if it is. I still don’t like pollution for purely selfish reasons (I like clean air, I don’t want to get sick) and it’d be good to get off of fossil fuels for a lot of reasons unrelated to global warming.

  39. “Of course, John, the cheapest way to make energy would be just to burn coal in the cheapest manner possible like China. But then our mountains would be destroyed and our cities would look like this, so really it isn’t “cheap”, is it?”

    That is a false choice. The choices are not China or some kind of green mandated return to the dark ages. We can do coal with clean burning technology. We don’t have to be China.

  40. John, my point was that there are other costs besides just how much it takes to generate the electricity. I.e., future costs caused by pollution. And like I said, clean coal requires massive subsidies to be as cheap as normal coal, and then it isn’t really cheap. You may as well go with nuclear or natural gas or wind or what have you.

  41. BDB,
    I like the Appalachian mountains better without their tops blown off as well.

  42. “I still don’t like pollution for purely selfish reasons (I like clean air, I don’t want to get sick) and it’d be good to get off of fossil fuels for a lot of reasons unrelated to global warming.”

    Do you like paying high energy bills and being poorer? Being poor makes a lot sicker than pollution. The don’t much industrial pollution in places like the Sudan. I wouldn’t want to live there either. Not that we have to go back to the state of nature but some pollution is the price we pay for our wealth and it is a price worth paying. Unless you want to be really poor, fossile fuels are the way to go and will be for the forseable future.

  43. “You may as well go with nuclear or natural gas or wind or what have you.”

    I have no objection to nuclear. Indeed we would be nuclear right now had it not been for the environmental nuts killing it off in the 1970s.

  44. “Trade Anarchy”

    Great punk band name.

  45. It takes pollution generating energy to produce and transport goods. Taxing those goods at the retail level would indirectly tax that energy production. Get rid of the income tax, impose a national sales tax. Not perfect, but better than what we have now, or could have with a carbon tax.

    (The Neal Boortz hour has concluded, you can now go back to your regularly scheduled programming)

  46. “Do you like paying high energy bills and being poorer? Being poor makes a lot sicker than pollution.”

    Yeah but thats the other end of the extreme from being China. I’m willing to be just a little bit poorer in the short term (like paying 20 cents for X amount of energy vs. 10 cents) if that means things are cleaner and I don’t get COPD or asthma just from being outside. It’s worth the short term cost. And I agree with you about the hysterical stance towards nuclear we have had since the 70s. Its one of the reasons we have such higher emissions than Europe or Japan.

  47. “I have no objection to nuclear. Indeed we would be nuclear right now had it not been for the environmental nuts killing it off in the 1970s.”

    Nuclear would be fine so long as the plant owners and operators were held fully liable for any leaks or meltdowns.

    But they’re not, and that is the problem.

  48. Chernobyl could only happen in a basketcase country like the Soviet Union in the late 80s, or maybe North Korea. They wouldn’t happen here.

  49. J sub D | December 4, 2008, 1:21pm | #
    BDB,
    I like the Appalachian mountains better without their tops blown off as well.

    Private property rights J sub D ?
    What about those pretty and historic buildings evil developers keep tearing down?

  50. “I have no objection to nuclear. Indeed we would be nuclear right now had it not been for the environmental nuts killing it off in the 1970s.”

    Nuclear plants aren’t being built because they are ridiculously expensive. It takes decades for the investment to break even, let alone make a profit. The only countries that use it extensively subsidize almost all construction costs. A company can build many NG or LPG plants for the cost of one nuke plant – so why bother?

    See the Oct. 22 ish of this here magazine.

  51. would almost certainly lead to a collapse of the multilateral trading system…

    I am (pleasantly) surprised. I thought that for St Ralph, this would be a feature, not a bug.

  52. Private property rights J sub D ?
    What about those pretty and historic buildings evil developers keep tearing down?

    You are not unaware of the adverse envrinmental effects of mountain top removal that extend far beyond the owner’s property, so why are you bothering to bring it up?

  53. The real hidden and damaging pollution produced by the Appalachian coal industry is Bluegrass music. Until we have a solution for that, nuclear is the way to go.

  54. BDB-1:04

    Without the bicyles, one might reasonably guess Denver. Besides, a touch of grey suits you anyway.

  55. Global warming is a myth whereas eco-facism is real.

  56. “Without the bicyles, one might reasonably guess Denver. Besides, a touch of grey suits you anyway.”

    In Denver, does your snot turn black after you’ve lived there for a month? Do people wear surgical masks when not in front of tourist?

  57. The problem with natural gas is that there is not nearly as much of it as coal. Also, since it burns so clean it has a lot of industrial uses. I am not sure it is a good idea in the long run to use it to generate electricity.

    As far as tearing the tops off of Appalachian Mountains, if we would stop government subsidies, we wouldn’t be using Appalachian coal. The stuff out west is much cheaper. Also, they usually do underground mining in Appalachia so they don’t tear the tops off of many mountains.

  58. John,

    Most of the underground mining is in western Kentucky; eastern Kentucky coal is still being taken mostly by mountain top removal and strip mining.

    But your point stands that western US coal would be cheaper.

  59. People are not going to vote for a politician who promises to significantly boost what they pay at the pump and pay for power.

    Depends on what sort of a metric is used for a carbon tax. If it is simply a Pigouvian tax to internalize the costs of associated negative externalities, then the actual costs of the tax relative to a gallon of gas or a cubic foot of natural gas (to use a couple of examples) should be pretty low (even using the IPCC figures for costs of CO2 emissions, it would work out to about a 20 cent a gallon tax on gasoline).

    However, since most of the greens want to use it as a punitive system to encourage abandonment of fossil fuels (as opposed to conservation), then yes, people would have a right to be quite upset about the cost of their energy spiking.

  60. Nader is a douche. I still can’t believe that Ron Paul endorsed him.

  61. Here’s what budding trade anarchy looks like:

    …will turn any meaningful cap into Swiss cheese.

    General Tariff on Swiss or Emmentaler cheese with eye formation: 6.4%

    Free from the following countries: LDCs (very poor countries) within the GSP, Austrailia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, the Caribbean Basin countries, Israel, the Andean countries, Morocco, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic

    without “eyes”: 10%

  62. I thought Ron Paul endorsed that Constitution Party guy.

  63. BDB-

    Are you talking about the China Syndrome?

  64. The problem with natural gas is that there is not nearly as much of it as coal. Also, since it burns so clean it has a lot of industrial uses. I am not sure it is a good idea in the long run to use it to generate electricity.

    Agreed. Carrying the thought a bit cf further, oil is also finite and useful for a whole bunch of neat stuff other than burning it for energy.

    As far as tearing the tops off of Appalachian Mountains, if we would stop government subsidies, we wouldn’t be using Appalachian coal. The stuff out west is much cheaper. Also, they usually do underground mining in Appalachia so they don’t tear the tops off of many mountains.

    I think it’s becoming more common due to economic reality. TLTG though.

  65. libertymike–

    I’m talking about Chinese that say with a straight face that “We moved to Los Angeles/Houston for the air quality”.

  66. The dirtiness of China’s coal plants is a result of it being a centrally planned dictatorship, though. If China were a democratic country the rapidly growing middle class wouldn’t stand for that kind of air quality.

  67. I’m talking about Chinese that say with a straight face that “We moved to Los Angeles/Houston for the air quality”.

    Compared to most of the world’s big industrial cities, LA and Houston don’t have bad air quality. Also, their air quality has improved a lot over the last few decades. LA, even though it had a much smaller population, had much worse air in the 50s than it does now.

  68. Funny is people who deny global warming.

    Hilarious is people who deny global warming but believe in “clean coal technology.”

    “I’m a skeptic, I’m a skeptic.” Right. Real skeptical, Mr. “Clean Coal Technology.”

  69. I thought Ron Paul endorsed that Constitution Party guy.

    He had a group photo-op with McKinney, Nader and Baldwin, and told the voters to vote for one of them. That’s an endorsement. Notably missing from his list was Bob Barr.

  70. The debate over global warming is so boring. If it is happening, what can we do that doesn’t involve a world regulatory agency (which will never fucking happen)? If it isn’t happening, if the myth spurns us to develop clean ways of making energy, it’s a useful myth. Even people who don’t believe global warming is real should think it a GoodThing if we live in a cleaner environment (without giving up an undue amount of economic growth).

  71. I am (pleasantly) surprised. I thought that for St Ralph, this would be a feature, not a bug.

    He’s just cynically using trade protectionism as an excuse to oppose cap-and-trade, because he’s in favor of a carbon tax.

    Like “Look if you do anything other than what I want, something bad will happen that you don’t want” (Not that I actually care).

  72. Is there any other first world country that uses coal like we do to produce electricity? Hell no. It’s a backwards way of producing energy.

    Here’s a list of the G-7 countries. Data from here:http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/
    except US from here: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Existing_U.S._Coal_Plants
    and UK from here: http://www.aepuk.com/need_info.php#5

    (note: eia data for ‘energy’ not electricity. I would propose though, that electrical gen % is higher for each datum – for ex another site give Canada % for electricity alone as 19%)

    Country % from coal
    UK 33
    USA 31.2
    Germany 24
    Japan 20
    Canada 12
    Italy 8
    France 5

    So we are not number 1, and we are not too far out of line w/ other industrial countries, esp considering our coal reserves.

  73. BDB,

    More to the point, what makes anyone think that a centrally planned approach to the problem is the most effecient solution?

    If it isn’t happening, if the myth spurns us to develop clean ways of making energy, it’s a useful myth.

    No it isn’t. That would be quite wasteful in fact. One of the things that Bastiat hammered away on was the fact that government “solutions” even when they actually address a real problem short-circuit future solutions by their one size fits all approach. That would be even worse under a scenario where the underlying problem didn’t actually exist.

  74. “The debate over global warming is so boring. If it is happening, what can we do that doesn’t involve a world regulatory agency (which will never fucking happen)? If it isn’t happening, if the myth spurns us to develop clean ways of making energy, it’s a useful myth. Even people who don’t believe global warming is real should think it a GoodThing if we live in a cleaner environment (without giving up an undue amount of economic growth).”

    That’s not really true. There are plenty of actions that could be taken without relying on regulation. We could file a class action lawsuit against polluters, on behalf of those who have suffered as a result of their actions.

  75. “We could file a class action lawsuit against polluters, on behalf of those who have suffered as a result of their actions.”

    Yeah, that would really help once New York City and Calcutta are under water.

  76. for ex another site give Canada % for electricity alone as 19%

    Page 5 of this pdf http://www.canelect.ca/en/Pdfs/HandBook.pdf gives a figure of 19%.

  77. “We could file a class action lawsuit against polluters, on behalf of those who have suffered as a result of their actions.”

    When a proposed solution to global warming involves regulation, out come the breathing jokes. It’s unpossible to target producers of global warming pollution! We can’t live withou it!

    Suddenly, the discovery process of a civil suit changes all that.

    Pagind Dave W. Paging Dave W.

  78. Yeah, that would really help once New York City and Calcutta are under water.

    This is so far outside the realm of possibility that it I do not know why you mentioned it.

  79. “Yeah, that would really help once New York City and Calcutta are under water.”

    Well, presumably, if the polluters knew they would be held responsible for their actions, they would never let it get this far. They would be ruined.

  80. “It’s unpossible to target producers of global warming pollution! We can’t live withou it!”

    You fail english.

  81. I’m wondering — has Ronald Bailey had the epiphany yet that anything the government might do to reduce carbon dioxide emissions would result in a net loss in happiness and prosperity and longevity for the nation as a whole, however much certain rent-seeking special interest groups might benefit?

    Perhaps if he came over here on vacation in Hawaii and joined me in downing Primo beers while wearing short and rubbah slippahs in early December in high 70s weather, he’d realize that the earth being warmer would likely be an improvement for most people?

  82. “Hilarious is people who deny global warming but believe in “clean coal technology.”

    Joe have you ever visited a coal plant? Do you even know how they work? Have you ever spoken to anyone who actually works in the industy? I have. I toured the largest coal plant in the country near Atlanta. Talked to the engineers who run the place. You can see the big piles of ash their scubbers take out of their discharges and feel the steam their cooling towers emit. A modern coal plant emits CO2. If you don’t believe me, go tour one yourself or talk to an engineer who works in one.

    It is okay that you don’t know anything Joe. Lots of people don’t. The problem with you is that you have no idea how uninformed you are. That is what makes you such a menace. Sadly, you are not alone and all too typical.

  83. “Well, presumably, if the polluters knew they would be held responsible for their actions, they would never let it get this far. They would be ruined.”

    And that wouldn’t effect any of the rest of us because the polluters don’t do anything of value and print their own money right?

  84. Of course Joe laughs at “clean coal technology” because Coal plants are the big black smoke belching plants that make the world look like Dickins’ London. The Sierra Club told him so.

    Joe you are just smart enough not to be a troll but easily the most narrowminded uniformed non-troll on here. I swear you would be less annoying if you were just performance art like Juanita or Lefiti.

  85. “And that wouldn’t effect any of the rest of us because the polluters don’t do anything of value and print their own money right?”

    No, of course energy companies produce something of value. The problem is that often that value is subsidized by destroying the health and property of non-consenting third parties.

  86. Even people who don’t believe global warming is real should think it a GoodThing if we live in a cleaner environment (without giving up an undue amount of economic growth).

    Just to give one indication of what an “undue amount of economic growth” might be,
    the IPCC SRES high growth scenario A1 predicts a per capita yearly GDP in 2100 of $80,000. The more environmentally conscious scenario B1 predicts that number to be $50,000. The expected warming for the latter is 1.8?C while for the former it is 2.8?C to 4.0?C depending on whether a low-carbon energy source is found to be as cheap as present-day high-carbon sources.

    So is experiencing a third less warming worth being a third less wealthy? I would say not. I would definitely say that we don’t have enough information to choose actions that leave our grandchildren that much less wealth to do with as they see fit — whether that be addressing global warming or addressing something that is more important to them.

  87. Yeah, that would really help once New York City and Calcutta are under water.

    This is so far outside the realm of possibility that it I do not know why you mentioned it.

    Oh, come on. It is virtually certain to happen about 100 years after the UN passes its resolution against the building of new dikes and seawalls.

  88. “No, of course energy companies produce something of value. The problem is that often that value is subsidized by destroying the health and property of non-consenting third parties.”

    maybe or maybe not. The science of global warming is anything but established. Further, even if it were established it is pretty difficult to establish the cost of pollution. Warming would be good for some areas and bad for others. Should the areas that benefit have to pay to? Unless you are a nitwit like Joe and clutch the latest Al Gore movie like a Catholic clutching a rosary, it is pretty hard to determine who should pay and how much, even if the theory is true, which it isn’t.

  89. The basic problem for folks in favor of regulation is the fact that many sovereign nations are pretty hostile to those regulations, and they have no means by which to get around the roadblocks put up by those nations. Furthermore, rich nations are unlikely to directly aid them in converging to newer, less polluting modes of electricity generation, etc. From one perspective this is a classic free rider problem. I have yet to see a proposal that would surmount this issue.

    What that means is that mitigation projects will probably be the primary response, and if that is indeed the correct solution then that will likely be a far less costly measure than a world-wide tax on carbon emissions.

  90. Joe have you ever visited a coal plant? Do you even know how they work? Have you ever spoken to anyone who actually works in the industy?

    Yes, yes, and yes, I married to someone who does air-emissions engineering for a living, and has worked on several energy projects.

    Man, you should have seen her laughing when she talked about the tools at the coal conference desperately trying to convince each other that “clean coal” actually meant anything.

    But, you know, Chem Es from MIT and Standford – what do they know, right?

    Assume makes an ass out of you, John. And in this case…just you.

  91. “I have yet to see a proposal that would surmount this issue.”

    There isn’t one and there won’t be one. What are we going to do? Go to war with China? Start a trade war with them? We have absolutely no influence of India and China and other developing countries. Further, it is pretty rich of us to insist that they live in poverty while we live fat. They are going to tell us to go to hell and do what is best for them.

    But, the global warming debate has nothing whatsoever to do with global warming. The measures to stop global warming are nothing but excuses for crooks to loot the productive and make the superstitous feel better.

  92. I’ve never visited coal plants, nor have any PhDs, but I do know that the level of mercury in the Shenandoah River has spiked up to dangerous levels since new coal plants were built in SW VA, and that the view of the mountains the Valley at the National Park a’int what it used to be. And this is supposedly “clean coal”, according to Dominion Power.

  93. A modern coal plant emits CO2.

    And the elimination of CO2 emissions, along with the mercury problem and the other chemical byproducts, is what the term Clean Coal Technology refers to.

    Not the particulates from the old-fashioned (but sadly, still operating) coal plants – the chemical pollution, including CO2 pollution.

    Geez, John, you couldn’t even bother to look up what the term Clean Coal Technology means, before writing a dozen comments on the subject?

    Everything’s politics to you, isn’t it? You just can’t base you opinion on objective information.

  94. “Yes, yes, and yes, I married to someone who does air-emissions engineering for a living, and has worked on several energy projects.”

    I have a masters in environmental law and have forgotten more about the clean air act than you will ever know. The new source performance standards under the 1990 revisions of the act made coal plants very clean. Even the environmentalists admit that. The problem is two fold. First, CO2 is not considered a pollutant. Second, the New source standards don’t apply to the old plants. Talk to your wife about the new versus the old plants sometime Joe.

    You are talking out of your ass. Joe.

  95. And CO2 is not a pollutant. Only religious fanatics like you beleive that.

  96. The science of global warming is anything but established.

    You know, not established. Unlike the mercury- and CO2-emissions-free “Clean Coal Technology.”

    Everything’s Al Gore this and “global warming religion that” with this clown, but it’s the scientists and engineers who are politicizing things.

  97. Uh, yeah, I’ve certainly never heard of New Source Review of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Huh?

    The new source performance standards under the 1990 revisions of the act made coal plants very clean.

    Except for that mercury and CO2 issues. You might remember CO2, John. Global warming? Subject of the thread? Clean Coal Technology intended to address it?

    Clean Coal Technology, something new (theoretical, actually)? Not something people use to refer to currently-operating coal-fired power plants?

    Does any of this ring a bell?

  98. John | December 4, 2008, 3:59pm | #

    And CO2 is not a pollutant. Only religious fanatics like you beleive that.

    And the Supreme Court of the United States. And the Environmental Protection Agency.

    I love the logic, though. We don’t need to worry about global warming, or consider CO2 a problem, because only religious fanatics believe that.

    How do we know they’re religious fanatics? Easy – they worry about global warming, and consider CO2 to be a pollutant.

  99. Correction: One of those yeses should be a no. Never visited a coal plant – just know, and work with, lots of people who’ve not only toured them, but permitted them and studied their emissions.

  100. See, this is the distinction I was trying to get at in the earlier discussion.

    CO2 should not be classified as a pollutant. It should be qualified as a greenhouse gas (GHG).

    Those are two separate concepts. I do not care who regards CO2 as a “pollutant”, that is factually inaccurate.

  101. “Pollutant” doesn’t mean “toxic.” Heated water is (or can be) a pollutant. Wood chips can be a pollutant. Sand can be a pollutant.

    A pollutant is an emission that causes harm to the environment or human health. There are a couple of steps in between the emission of CO2 and the harm it does to the environment and human health, but you can say the same thing about a lot of pollutants.

  102. joe, I am sorry, I have to disagree. Even if I grant you that AGW is at the threat level that a lot of people believe, that still does not make CO2 a pollutant. That makes it a GHG, which contributes to AGW.

    CO, SO2, NO and NO2, these are pollutants. These are the nasty things that reduce air quality, cause acid rain, cause infections and developmental defects (in the case of mercury, anyway).

    If you want to say that the production of excessive CO2 -> AGW -> NYC under water, that is all well and good and I am willing to hear the argument, but I do not believe that classifying CO2 as a pollutant is proper, unless you want to say that plants, algae and trees are polluters.

  103. and that the view of the mountains the Valley at the National Park a’int what it used to be.

    The Blue Ridge mountains, of course, have their name for the persistent haze that accumulates from the dust blowing off the middle of the country. It got worse during the 19th through the mid-20th century via human activity but as far as I know has improved over the last few decades.

    Otoh, you can defintely see the difference in the Rockies from mid 20th c to present via photographic evidence, esp around Denver and Salt Lake City, as polution from car exhaust obscurces frequently what used to be unlimited views.

    I am unfamilar with recent mecury issues, but if what you say is accurate, it’s definitely a problem.

    The other thing to note what one thing that has definitely been worse for the SW Va economy than coal production has been the decline of the same. Overall this is probably for the best, but the transition has been and continues to be very painful.

  104. I think joe’s actually right, here. Anything is a pollutant in a high enough quantity. Even toxicity is relative. Water is a pollutant if I flood your house with it.

  105. TAO,

    We could get all semantic and stuff until the end of time if we wanted to, and there is certainly a distinction between a substance that does its nasty work through chemistry and those which do their work through their physical properties, but the important issue is whethether it’s a pollutant for the purposes of the Clean Air Act.

    unless you want to say that plants, algae and trees are polluters Sure, why not? My tomcat used to emit a lot methane when he was a kitten – does that mean methane isn’t a pollutant?

    Heck, imagine if some hospital dumped 100 gallons blood or urine in a river. Not a pollutant, because living things emit it?

    I respectfully disagree.

  106. “We could get all semantic and stuff until the end of time if we wanted to, and there is certainly a distinction between a substance that does its nasty work through chemistry and those which do their work through their physical properties, but the important issue is whethether it’s a pollutant for the purposes of the Clean Air Act.”

    Uh, no. Chemistry is a physical property. This distinction makes no sense.

  107. I think joe’s actually right, here. Anything is a pollutant in a high enough quantity. Even toxicity is relative. Water is a pollutant if I flood your house with it.

    Well, that is actually my point. I thought that we were going to limit our discussion to things that should be classified as pollutants for purposes of environmental regulations, not because the definition of “pollution” is ultimately a relative one.

    the important issue is whethether it’s a pollutant for the purposes of the Clean Air Act.

    Do you think that a reduction in CO2 is necessary for clean air, or do you think that CO2 was included for other purposes?

  108. Mike, don’t be a pedant. Chemistry and phyisics are two different subjects for a reason.

    Chemical reaction. Physical reaction. Surely you’ve come across these terms.

    C’mon, you’re playing gotcha over nothing.

  109. Do you think that a reduction in CO2 is necessary for clean air, or do you think that CO2 was included for other purposes?

    I think it is necessary to reduce CO2 in order to avoid changing the chemical content of the atmosphere in a manner that harms the environment and human health; which is to say, YES.

    In order to have “clean air,” as the Clean Air Act intends the term to mean, we need to reduce CO2 emissions.

    SO2 isn’t regulated under the Clean Air Act for the harm it does when we breath it, but for the acid rais in caused several steps later. So “clean air” isn’t just supposed to refer to the air being better or worse to breathe.

  110. All this talk about CO2 might be worth something if there were one shred of empirical evidence that linked CO2 to GW or anything. Even if there were and we needed to reduce CO2 emissions drastically, given that humans contribute only about 3% of the world’s CO2 output in a bad(high) year, there wouldn’t be much we could really do. But then, seeing as the Earth’s been cooling down as of late, and the last two years (’07,’08) have been the coldest in the last 100, it’s hard to link anything to global warming, except maybe the sun.

  111. Mike, don’t be a pedant. Chemistry and phyisics are two different subjects for a reason.

    I can be a pedant too. Chemistry is a specialty in physics. All chemical reactions are governed by physical interaction of atoms, the province of physics.

    In fact all science studies the interaction of matter and energy. It all comes down to physics (with requires math).

  112. All this talk about CO2 might be worth something if there were one shred of empirical evidence that linked CO2 to GW or anything.

    The greenhouse effect – the property of carbon dioxide to trap heat – was discovered in the 19th century. Done!

    I can be a pedant too. Yes, you can. An odd thing to be proud of.

    So, anyway, nobody has any meaningful point about the chemistry/physics – chemical reactions/physical properties point I made. Fine. Let’s move on.

  113. You know, it actually would have helped my argument to agree that there is no discernible difference between physics and chemistry, physical properties and chemical properties, and physical events and chemical reactions. The “CO2 is not a pollutant” argument stems from the fact that the damage it does (in the atmosphere) to environmental and human health stems from its physical properties, rather than (as with NOx or carbon monoxide) its chemical properties and the reactions it causes.

  114. Why isn’t Nader advocating building more nuclear plants?

    Is he just that dumb, or is he venal?

  115. There really should be a troll war between OLS and CO. We need to find some way to get them on the same thread. It would be an intellectual version of the “Cripple Fight”.

  116. Suppose we are headed for an ice age and coal keeps us warmer.

    Shouldn’t it be subsidized?

  117. CO2 does damage?

    Trees love it. You got something against trees?

  118. Attempting to reduce carbon releases is impossible and won’t work. The amount of reduction that would be required to actually reduce CO2 levels to a level where global warming would stop are so high that modern society would basically need to be banned. You would have to ban airplanes, cargo ships, gas powered automobiles, and most factories and power plants, on a worldwide basis. It would probably also require forced sterilization to reduce population levels to demand for food, housing, etc.

    The only realistic solution, IMHO, is to artifically create global cooling, by intentionally polluting the atmosphere in such a way to make less sunlight reach the earth.

  119. “The only realistic solution, IMHO, is to artifically create global cooling, by intentionally polluting the atmosphere in such a way to make less sunlight reach the earth.”

    You want to know what would be great fun? If this attempt to stop global warming coincided with a natural cooling cycle, bringing on a new ice age.

  120. Yes, and I’m still hoping for a troll war between CO and LoneWacko.

  121. You want to know what would be great fun? If this attempt to stop global warming coincided with a natural cooling cycle, bringing on a new ice age.

    That’s the basic plot of the novel Fallen Angels by Niven, Pournelle, and Flynn.

    Geotpf: I’m a fan of the solution that involves fertilizing the dead ares of theoceans: remove CO2 and get more fish at the same time.

  122. After advocating a carbon tax as the least bad alternative, I have been persuaded that it’s politically impossible. People are not going to vote for a politician who promises to significantly boost what they pay at the pump and pay for power.

    Ron, this is a cop-out.

    People are not rioting over trillion $ bailouts, are they?

    If carbon taxes were rebated pro rata to citizens, they`d be PROGRESSIVE and favored by most voters.

    They`re also a heck of alot better than massive green jobs programs and throwing money at alternative energy (Obama`s policis) that would be much better invested by private hands.

    http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2008/06/27/top-demagogues-jim-hansen-florida-power-exxon-aei-margo-thoring-major-economists-george-will-prefer-rebated-carbon-taxes.aspx.

    The “cautious” voices ought to be falling all over themselves to avoid the vast waste of money that is coming our way. Carbon taxes and public utility deregulation/smart grid investment recovery ought to be at the top of everyone`s list.

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