Comments: "Coal Makes Us Sick"

Uh, Charles. There IS this little thing called air pollution.

American Lung Association ( http://lungaction.org/reports/sota07_protecting1.html ):

"Old coal-fired power plants are among the biggest industrial polluters, especially in the eastern half of the United States. The toll of death, disease and environmental destruction caused by coal-fired power plant pollution continues to mount. An analysis released in 2004 attributed 24,000 premature deaths each year to power plant pollution. In addition, the research estimates that over 550,000 asthma attacks, 38,000 heart attacks and 12,000 hospital admissions are caused annually by power plant pollution...

"Although the measures in the late 1990s have helped reduce pollution, coal-fired power plants remain major sources of emissions that must be cleaned up. On March 10, 2005, EPA issued the Clean Air Interstate Rule, or CAIR, that requires 28 states and the District of Columbia to further reduce power plant emissions by 2015. CAIR is similar to the approach EPA used to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in the late 1990s. The Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority to force the plants to clean up by requiring states to reduce the pollution that blows across state lines."

Of course, quite apart from the fact that this requires (shudder) government activities, it still won't completely get rid of coal-generated or oil-generated air pollution either. Dare one suggest that this might possibly be what Sen. Reid was referring to? After all, it's what right-wing U. of Colorado physicist Petr Beckmann was referring to when he wrote a 1980 book entitled "The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear" (a view whose popularity has been increasing since). And of course it's also what all those sillies who write articles on the feasibility of alternative energy sources and energy-conservation technologies in disreputable places like "Science" and "Nature" keep referring to.

(Parenthetically: I'm genuinely interested in considering the odds that you have the credentials to disprove all those statements from the IPCC, "Science", "Nature", all those atmospheric-science journals, etc. who keep stubbornly insisting that anthropomorphic global warming is NOT a hoax. Alas, since you're completely silent about your own scientific/technological background, it's impossible to do that.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at August 5, 2008 at 01:57 AM

Postscript: Looks like we've got an answer to that last one. http://sinequanon.spleenville.com/archives/005938.php :

"The question is still whether or not an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide does other things that offset the greenhouse effect, such as increased cloud cover, or increased biomass, or other as yet fully unknown and unappreciated effects. It's all incredibly complicated and not at all clear."

While admittedly we're still dealing in probabilities (you know, those things that you also have to consider in military planning), they're getting steadily stronger, as you may have noticed if you've actually read any recent pieces on the subject whatsoever. See, for instance, the new IPCC report (which persuaded Ronald Bailey over at "Reason", among others) and its multiple summary articles in "Science".

You want to fly about a dozen more improved climate-observation satellites over the next decade to nail down the matter really conclusively one way or the other (as the National Research Council urgently recommends, although the Bush White House has been dragging its feet)? Fine. Excellent idea. Meanwhile we'd better at least start making some advance preparations.

"My weatherman cannot reliably predict snowfall 2 days out and yet I am to believe that these same models can predict temperature increases 20 or 100 years out? Puhleeze."

Uh, Charles. As any meteorologist -- not to mention common sense -- will tell you, it's a wee bit more difficult to predict with confidence the complex motions of small local masses of air than it is to examine a decades-long record of average global temperatures, taken from thousands of places simultaneously, and determine with confidence whether or not there's a gradual worldwide rise in annual global average temperature. That's why they call one "weather" and the other "climate", you know.

"If the proponents of global warming would consider something other than the US as the sole culprit..."

...which of course they do.

"...and transnational progressivism as the solution, maybe I'd listen more closely, but for now I'm remaining fairly deaf to all illiberal utopian statist solutions."

I must confess that I'm not quite sure what those rants about "transnational progressivism" or "illiberal utopian statist solutions" mean, but I assume that you're saying that you want the market to deal with it by itself -- which is, of course, impossible, since excessive CO2 production is a form of pollution. (See "Externalities".) Any solution has to involve (again, shudder) some form of government action -- whether in the form of mandatory laws or pollution taxes (in this case, a carbon tax).

(As an alternative interpretation, I suppose that by "something other than transnational progressivism" you may mean "letting the poorest 4/5 of the human race rot, instead of giving them any kind of assistance in dealing with the consequences of AGW." It would be nice to think otherwise.)

As for the large number of other comparably mindboggling statements on AGW on the "Science" section of your blog, those will have to wait a bit. I'm out of time, and also patience.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at August 5, 2008 at 03:37 AM