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The Climate Change Thread

Wikipedia article:

"The American company Range Fuels announced in July 2007 that it was awarded a construction permit from the state of Georgia to build the first commercial-scale 100-million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant in the United States. Construction began in November, 2007."

No industry, eh? You might also want to note that there are numerous demonstration plants operating around the world to fine tune the process so that large plants, such as the one mentioned above may be developed.

Nope, no industry as that plant is not up and running yet. Demonstration plants are just that, demonstration plants. And just to satisfy you, I have looked at studies on ethanol. It will be a marginal fuel source.

That's a pretty strong statement. Ethanol already comprises 4 billion gallons of the 140 billion gallon annual US gasoline consumption. For an industry that has only seen large scale investment in the last few years, that is already a fairly large chunk. Production grew in 2004 by about 20%. The cost of corn based ethanol is essentially in line with wholesale gasoline prices. Your statement doesn't really reflect reality.

Afransen, you have failed to grasp reality here. Look at the statistic you provided: the reality is that 4 billion out of 140 billion. You don't appear to grasp that this number is extremely marginal. Ethanol presently derived, for example, from corn production is driving food prices up. Land used for food production should not be used for producing fuel in ever larger quantities. Also, you confuse the present with the future. Gasoline consumption will grow along with ethanol consumption. Ethanol will remain a marginal fuel.

Ethanol does burn much more cleanly than gasoline. Ethanol emits GHGs in the way that you do when you exhale, but cellulosic ethanol by existing processes displaces 90% of fossilised CO2 emissions when compared to the equivalent amount of gasoline

There are still studies pending concerning the general health effects of burning ethanol in large quantities. The fact is that ethanol is also not as efficient as gasoline as a fuel. Equivalent amount means a U.S. gallon, but you need roughly three gallons of ethanol to equal one gallon of gasoline. This is why ethanol appears as a fraction of total fuel quantity at the pumps.

I totally agree with your last two paragraphs, though I find it a bit troubling that you usually start with quite an extreme point of view, then finally admit something reasonable and claim that that is what you had been espousing all along.

I've never started with an extreme point of view. I've said all along that there are very good reasons beyond worrying about C02 emissions to move away from fossil fuels. I've outlined those reasons again in the paragraph you mention. I've never said that ethanol is completely useless, but it will never be useful as an actual complete replacement to gasoline. If carefully introduced (and from non-food source land or produce) it will gradually help to somewhat lessen the contemporary dependency on oil. There is no one single solution to meeting energy needs; there are many.
 
And what would my motive be for trading away my scientific scepticism? I may not understand climatology but I do understand scientific principles and know how to analyse evidence. And when you ignore the lay press (low level evidence) and look at evidence published in peer-reviewed journals (higher level evidence), yes, it's fair to say there's a consensus for now.

I earlier admit that I'm not an expert in the field, that I'm not 100% convinced that humans cause climate change and that I need to defer to expert opinion. Somehow, you perceive this as arrogant and overconfident. Somehow, you perceive my view as political rather than scientific. Quite frankly, I find this reaction to be bizarre.

You would have to spell out your own motives; they are yours after all.

You might want to note that I have cited the United Nations IPCC report here. If you wish, I can go on citing the uncertainties, statements or low or very low level of scientific understanding and other clear indications that this body bases its high confidence on a generally low level of understanding of the climate. The IPCC is not a scientific body, but a political body that is in part staffed by scientists. It gathers up specific scientific evidence to support a specific view and creates projections on the basis of scenario-building to try and forecast the future (they don't call it modeling and have not done so for a decade). You don't find opposing points, counter arguments, rebuttals or the like because the IPCC does not publish them. It does not have to. The results of the panel tend to dominate the climate debate. It is a purported scientific document that is politics. It is at the centre of many national climate policy initiatives.

Going beyond this, your statement on the issue is more than a little confusing and bizarre.

I don't know for sure that human activity contributes to climate change but the scientific community as a whole believes that it does, so for now I accept that. I'm not an expert in the field, so I have to rely on the expert opinion of others. Scientists as a whole believe it

You have stated that you are a scientist, but do not have any expertise in the field of climatology. But then you go on to state that you believe in an anthropogenic cause for climate change on the basis that the whole of the scientific community believes in it Yet, you provide no evidence for such a belief as to what the whole scientific community believes. As such, this kind of statement looks like an attempt to invoke a Collective Rationalization as a means to discredit or explain away contrary opinions or evidence. This approach to thinking supports an Illusion of Invulnerability with respect to the holding of a specific position, belief or point of view.

It's not at all too hard to figure out that a vast majority of the scientists you presumably cite (but only by way of belief) are themselves not climatologists and have no expertise in climatology. So you end up basing your belief on a presumed level of belief, and nothing more (once again, you provide no evidence that the whole scientific community is of a like mind. This results in an Illusion of Unanimity).

Moreover, as you have stated a very limited understanding of climatology, it would be hard for you to actually know what an entire community of scientists are thinking (as if a whole community thinks together, or thinks alike). So you might know what some climatologists think by reading what they have published, but this is far different from knowing what all climatologists are thinking - or even to what degree each individual thinks about a given element of research or data.

There is no General Theory of Climate, and because climatology is an interdisciplinary field, there are no singular experts in all fields of climate research. That would make it impossible to presume knowledge of a unanimity in thinking across the discipline.
 
Nope, no industry as that plant is not up and running yet. Demonstration plants are just that, demonstration plants. And just to satisfy you, I have looked at studies on ethanol. It will be a marginal fuel source.

Hmmm. Maybe you should be more specific than 'marginal'.



Afransen, you have failed to grasp reality here. Look at the statistic you provided: the reality is that 4 billion out of 140 billion. You don't appear to grasp that this number is extremely marginal.

That amount is indeed presently marginal.

Ethanol presently derived, for example, from corn production is driving food prices up.

Have you evidence that increases in corn prices are a result of increases in ethanol production? It's only one factor determining prices. Beyond that, ethanol production from corn is only economical for reasonable corn prices relative to gasoline; corn prices can only be driven so high by ethanol production.

Land used for food production should not be used for producing fuel in ever larger quantities.

Cropland should be employed in whatever manner is most economically efficient. And, whether you like it or not, this is largely how it works out in a market economy.

Also, you confuse the present with the future. Gasoline consumption will grow along with ethanol consumption. Ethanol will remain a marginal fuel.

Faulty logic. Ethanol production is growing substantially faster than gasoline consumption. Either way, it isn't sufficient information to determine whether ethanol will be a marginal fuel source of not.


There are still studies pending concerning the general health effects of burning ethanol in large quantities. The fact is that ethanol is also not as efficient as gasoline as a fuel. Equivalent amount means a U.S. gallon, but you need roughly three gallons of ethanol to equal one gallon of gasoline. This is why ethanol appears as a fraction of total fuel quantity at the pumps.

Equivalent in the context is by energy content, and ethanol has about 66% the energy content as gasoline by volume (not 33% as you assert). If this were actually a serious concern, it could be addressed by using butanol instead for instance, which has about the same energy content as gasoline by volume. At any rate, if this were a really technical problem, E85 wouldn't be commerically deployed.

I've never started with an extreme point of view. I've said all along that there are very good reasons beyond worrying about C02 emissions to move away from fossil fuels. I've outlined those reasons again in the paragraph you mention. I've never said that ethanol is completely useless, but it will never be useful as an actual complete replacement to gasoline.
"Nothing but a marginal fuel" and "not a complete replacement" are hardly equivalent statements. "Not a complete replacement" is reasonable... Different regions of the world may have better alternatives.

If carefully introduced (and from non-food source land or produce) it will gradually help to somewhat lessen the contemporary dependency on oil. There is no one single solution to meeting energy needs; there are many.

I don't think you or I are going to have much say in where the feedstock comes from.
 
In Brazil, The Driving Is Sweeter
Ethanol Research Leads To Cars That Can Run Entirely On The Sugarcane Alcohol


March 29, 2006


(CBS) Wouldn't it be nice if, one day, we didn't have to worry about the ups and downs of the gas markets?

Well in Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, there's a plan to become free from imported oil, not in the next 30 years, not in the next 10, but by the end of this year, reports CBS News correspondent Trish Regan.

That's primarily because while the rest of the world was mapping the human genome, scientists in Brazil were mapping the DNA of sugar in an effort to create a cleaner, cheaper alternative to gasoline: sugarcane ethanol.

They succeeded. Brazil's ethanol is about 30 percent less expensive than gasoline; according to the World Bank, it's about 50 cents cheaper per gallon to produce sugarcane ethanol. And although ethanol gets slightly less mileage, it's still cheaper on a per-mile-driven basis.

"The way we figure it, ethanol will be cheaper than gasoline as long as the price of oil is over $45 a barrel," said William Bernquist, coordinator for research and development at the Sugar Cane Technology Institute in Piracicaba, Brazil.

With oil upwards of $60 dollars a barrel, and no relief in sight, Bernquist predicts that ethanol will stay cheaper for some time.

"We started our ethanol program in the '70s because of the oil crisis in the '70s," he said. "And so we had to survive."

And "survival" meant finding a homegrown source of fuel, says Eduardo Carvalho, president of Sugar Cane Agroindustry Union. "We had no money to pay for the import of oil," he told Regan.

As chief economic advisor to Brazil's finance minister in the 1970s, Eduardo Carvalho pushed for government subsidies to help the fledgling sugarcane industry take shape.

Carvalho told Regan that it's a good feeling to know that by the end of the year his country will no longer have to rely on the Middle East for oil. "(It's) extremely important," he said. "We feel very proud."

Beginning in the 1970s, every gas station in the country was required to have at least one ethanol pump and the government mandated that all gasoline be mixed with ethanol.

"We began to blend increasing quantities of ethanol in our gasoline pool," Carvalho said.

But, as the ethanol began to replace gasoline, that led to another development: a brand new kind of car called a "flex vehicle." The car gives you the option of using a gasoline ethanol blend or 100 percent ethanol depending on whatever is cheaper. In San Paolo, Brazil, ethanol is the cheaper fuel to use.

Today, 70 percent of new cars sold in Brazil are flex vehicles, which cost no more than a regular car.

With the fuel environmentally cleaner to burn and the car cheaper to run, you've got to ask whether there is any downside to the fuel.

Carvalho says the biggest downside is the oil industry. "They aren't able to sell their product. … Basically, the people who produce oil, they don't like us … because we are getting their markets. … It's very simple."

The U.S. has made inroads on ethanol, but the focus here has been on corn-based ethanol, which is more expensive to process. By any measure, the U.S. is still probably decades behind Brazil on this alternative energy front.

©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SOURCE
 
You have stated that you are a scientist, but do not have any expertise in the field of climatology. But then you go on to state that you believe in an anthropogenic cause for climate change on the basis that the whole of the scientific community believes in it Yet, you provide no evidence for such a belief as to what the whole scientific community believes.

I have posted many review articles in the past from top peer-reviewed journals indicating that the consensus is that human activity contributes to climate change. Here's another one from November 2007. I could keep posted a new review article ever week if you'd like. They all say the same thing re: human activity and climate change:

There is a broad scientific consensus that the global climate is warming, the process is accelerating, and that human activities are very likely (>90% probability) the main cause.

Shea KM; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health. Global climate change and children's health.Pediatrics. 2007 Nov;120(5):e1359-67. Epub 2007 Oct 29.

I know how to do a literature review, I don't need to be a climatologist to do that. Should the average Joe-blow continue to smoke because he/she doesn't understand the medical research that proved that smoking causes lung cancer? Should only AIDS researchers use condoms?

As such, this kind of statement looks like an attempt to invoke a Collective Rationalization as a means to discredit or explain away contrary opinions or evidence. This approach to thinking supports an Illusion of Invulnerability with respect to the holding of a specific position, belief or point of view.

No, it's called a literature review.
 
I have posted many review articles in the past from top peer-reviewed journals indicating that the consensus is that human activity contributes to climate change. Here's another one from November 2007. I could keep posted a new review article ever week if you'd like. They all say the same thing re: human activity and climate change...

No, it's called a literature review.


And there are many articles out there that question the assertion, or don't even raise it simply because the evidence is not there. What you are seeing is a repetition of belief because the phrase has been repeated so often. Yet there is no evidence for such a consensus across the entire scientific community. The article you cite is not strictly about climate, but appears to be about presumed concerns over what could happen. The language is probable quite passive (might, may, possible, etc.).

Observational selection is not conclusive of what actually is. Consensus is agreement, but not proof of evidence. You have assumed that this repeated statement of a consensus is automatically proof.
 
Hmmm. Maybe you should be more specific than 'marginal'.

That amount is indeed presently marginal.


Fair enough. By marginal I would suggest below 20%. But obviously I can't state exact numbers. Agriculturally rich countries will probably benefit far more than those with few such resources available.

The present amount is very marginal, but I agree that it will grow in quantity. Oil, however, will remain dominant for the foreseeable future (decades). Beyond that, who knows. Improved battery technology, vastly improved solar capture - all are tantalizing and possible. What the technological landscape will be like fifty years out is impossible to predict. But if fuel consumption continues to go up while production of oil gradually begins to fall, this will automatically put a stress on land use for ethanol production. Such a situation suggests its own set of potential problems - particularly for nations with few agricultural resources.

Faulty logic. Ethanol production is growing substantially faster than gasoline consumption. Either way, it isn't sufficient information to determine whether ethanol will be a marginal fuel source of not.

Not faulty logic at all. Ethanol production and consumption is growing, but so is the use of gasoline. There is nothing to indicate that ethanol will overtake the production and use of gasoline. The ethanol infrastructure still has to be built up in order to meet even a fraction of the present demand for gasoline.
 
Here is an article (abstract) I found. Hardly conclusive of the entire issue, but might be worth reflecting on.
---------------


Effects of Ethanol (E85) Versus Gasoline Vehicles on Cancer
and Mortality in the United States


Mark Z. Jacobson*
*Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California
94305-4020, USA. Tel: 650-723-6836. Fax: 650-725-9720. jacobson@stanford.edu

Environmental Science and Technology, in press
Aug. 30, 2006, Revised Jan. 25, Feb. 19, 2007

Ethanol use in vehicle fuel is increasing worldwide, but the potential cancer risk and ozone-related health consequences of a large-scale conversion from gasoline to ethanol have not been examined. Here, a nested global-through urban air pollution/weather forecast model is combined with high-resolution future emission inventories, population data, and health effects data to examine the effect of converting from gasoline to E85 on cancer, mortality, and hospitalization in the U.S. as a whole and Los Angeles in particular. Under the base-case emission scenario derived, which accounted for projected improvements in gasoline and E85 vehicle emission controls, it was found that E85 (85% ethanol fuel, 15% gasoline) may increase ozone-related mortality, hospitalization, and asthma by about 9% in Los Angeles and 4% in the U.S. as a whole relative to 100% gasoline. Ozone increases in Los Angeles and the northeast were partially offset by decreases in the southeast. E85 also increased PAN in the U.S. but was estimated to cause little change in cancer risk. Due to its ozone effects, future E85 may be a greater overall public health risk than gasoline. However, because of the uncertainty in future emission regulations, it can be concluded with confidence only that E85 is unlikely to improve air quality over future gasoline vehicles. Unburned ethanol emissions from E85 may result in a global-scale source of acetaldehyde larger than that of direct emissions.


Also:

http://www.highlighthealth.com/eco-...ethanol-fuel-wont-improve-future-air-quality/
 
Found an interesting study on the relationship between food prices and food commodity prices. Apparently only about 5% of the retail price of a box of corn flakes or a loaf of breaf is attributable to the cost of the underlying commodity. Of course, the organization that sponsored the study must be considered (Renewable Fuels Foundation), but it gives some interesting perspective on the popular notion that food price inflation is being driven by ethanol production.

link
 
And there are many articles out there that question the assertion, or don't even raise it simply because the evidence is not there. What you are seeing is a repetition of belief because the phrase has been repeated so often. Yet there is no evidence for such a consensus across the entire scientific community. The article you cite is not strictly about climate, but appears to be about presumed concerns over what could happen. The language is probable quite passive (might, may, possible, etc.).

Observational selection is not conclusive of what actually is. Consensus is agreement, but not proof of evidence. You have assumed that this repeated statement of a consensus is automatically proof.
Do you know what a literature review is? It's exactly what scientists do to find out things like the fact that there is a consensus across the scientific community. Those articles you keep mentioning that question that consensus are a tiny minority and are usually by oil company hired guns.
Some bits of the Wikipedia article on literature review:
-A Literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge on a particular topic.
-Its ultimate goal is to bring the reader up to date with current literature on a topic and forms the basis for another goal, such as the justification for future research in the area.
-a literature review uses as its database reports of primary or original scholarship, and does not report new primary scholarship itself
-a literature review seeks to describe, summarise, evaluate, clarify and/or integrate the content of primary reports

So as you can see, a literature review (not observational selection as you call it) is conclusive of what actually is. Oh btw, you're mixing the word consensus with words like "entire" and "whole", a classic tactic to overstate the dissenting views. Consensus in no way means 100% unanimity, so saying things like "you provide no evidence for such a belief as to what the whole scientific community believes" is completely meaningless.
 
Do you know what a literature review is? It's exactly what scientists do to find out things like the fact that there is a consensus across the scientific community. Those articles you keep mentioning that question that consensus are a tiny minority and are usually by oil company hired guns.
Some bits of the Wikipedia article on literature review:
-A Literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge on a particular topic.
-Its ultimate goal is to bring the reader up to date with current literature on a topic and forms the basis for another goal, such as the justification for future research in the area.
-a literature review uses as its database reports of primary or original scholarship, and does not report new primary scholarship itself
-a literature review seeks to describe, summarise, evaluate, clarify and/or integrate the content of primary reports

So as you can see, a literature review (not observational selection as you call it) is conclusive of what actually is. Oh btw, you're mixing the word consensus with words like "entire" and "whole", a classic tactic to overstate the dissenting views. Consensus in no way means 100% unanimity, so saying things like "you provide no evidence for such a belief as to what the whole scientific community believes" is completely meaningless.

Yes, I know what a literature review is. I do them as part of of my professional activities.

The words I cited were used by others. You may want to take your issues up with them. Consensus means general agreement. As for the level of agreement, do you know what every member of a specific group is thinking and to what degree on any given topic in the absence of evidence?

And observational selection can certainly make its way into how a literature review is used by the end user.

Concerning the last sentence: you have stated only an opinion. There is no literature, no survey, no anything that states what an entire community of people is thinking about any one subject. Their are just opinions on these things - like yours.
 
Concerning ethanol:

In 2005 the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture published a study that indicated a requirement of a minimum of one-billion tons of dry biomass to produce enough ethanol to replace 30% of the current U.S. demand for transportation fuels. The possible target for such a yield and usage is suggested to be 2030. The present total estimated biomass potential of the Unites States is stated to be 1366 billion tons from primary, secondary and tertiary sources.

From: "Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply." U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


While encouraging, there are still a number of unanswered questions that will have to be carefully explored should such a goal be achieved (land-use issues, emissions, etc.). Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the development of the cellulosic ethanol approach will unfold. The corn-based approach to ethanol production is untenable in the long run.
 
Yes, I know what a literature review is. I do them as part of of my professional activities.

I'm not sure why you use phrases such as, "do you know what every member of a specific group is thinking" and, "There is no literature, no survey, no anything that states what an entire community of people is thinking about any one subject". Consensus does not mean everyone has to agree. The point of doing a literature review is to examine the evidence as a whole to determine how much evidence there is for or against something. For something that is so controversial in the lay press (although becoming less so) there is a surprising amount of agreement in the scientific press regarding human activity contributing to climate change. There will be the odd publication that disputes the notion, but if you search for review articles regarding global warming, you won't be able to find a recent one that claims that it isn't real, or at least I haven't been able to find one.

Observational selection is an important concept in performing a literature review. You can avoid these and others biases by doing searches using neutral phrases. For example, doing a search on "climate change" should turn up negative studies with equal probability to positive studies. When you search "climate change" or "global warming" in any scientific literature search engine and limit the search to "review articles", you won't be able to find a recent one that disputes the concept of human activity altering the climate. You won't even be able to find one that claims that there isn't enough evidence to make a conclusion, or at least I haven't been able to find one. They all seem to say there is a strong probability that human activity contributes to global warming. If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd be interested in seeing it.

Concerning the last sentence: you have stated only an opinion. There is no literature, no survey, no anything that states what an entire community of people is thinking about any one subject. Their are just opinions on these things - like yours.

At the end of the day, conclusions made from scientific research are just the opinions of scientists. However, scientific evidence and opinion is the best that we have, and certainly preferrable to the opinions of politicians or lobbyists.
 
Consensus does not mean everyone has to agree. The point of doing a literature review is to examine the evidence as a whole to determine how much evidence there is for or against something.

That's funny, because I could have sworn that consensus meant general agreement.

As for examining the evidence as a whole, can I presume you've read from all the disciplines - unless whole no longer means "entire" or "all of?"

A changing climate is a fact. It is quite a different thing to isolate changes over the last 130 odd years and directly attribute them to human activities.

Also, as to your literature review, did you try searches outside of "climate change" or "global warming?" If you want to learn more you will have to widen your search queries to something other than "climate change" since the term is now quite loaded - politically and otherwise. Climate change once meant that the climate changes over time. Today the term is weighted to mean something attributed directly to human activity.

You forgot that the term already has a built in bias.
 
That's funny, because I could have sworn that consensus meant general agreement.

Yes, that's what I said. General agreement also doesn't mean that everyone has to agree. 99 out of 100 people agreeing would be a general agreement or a consensus.

Also, as to your literature review, did you try searches outside of "climate change" or "global warming?" If you want to learn more you will have to widen your search queries to something other than "climate change" since the term is now quite loaded - politically and otherwise. Climate change once meant that the climate changes over time. Today the term is weighted to mean something attributed directly to human activity.

What search terms would you use? Have you found any review articles that do not indicate that there is a consensus that human activity contributes to climate change?
 

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