In the land of Apple, Facebook, Google, and Tesla the idea that Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday ordered mandatory water use reductions for the first time in California’s history is kind of embarrassing. It begs the question what have these socially responsible firms been doing over the last ten years. Physician, heal yourself! When did space travel and electric cars become more socially responsible than running water? If the Romans successfully implemented running water in every major Roman city 2,000 year ago then California should be able to do it today without rationing! It is a sign of insanity to use the equivalent of band-aids on water usage and expect the problem to fix itself. Time to grow up, California!
I am not surprised that the latest science blames asthma problems on indoor rather than outdoor pollution. I complained of the questionable asthma science behind the American Lung Association ad, Red Carriage Advertisement III, in 2011. According to Cato, Asthma Justification for EPA Regulations Gutted by the Latest Science, a recent scientific paper in the Journal of Asthma and Clinical Immunology says somewhat cryptically:
Taking the United States as a whole, living in an urban neighborhood is not associated with increased asthma prevalence.
Cato then defers to Dr. Joseph Perrone, chief science officer at the Center for Accountability in Science, to explain why this research is important to the Clean Air Standards in this article on The Hill:
It’s a radical finding. The study upends more than half a century of research that assumed outdoor air pollution in cities was to blame for higher asthma rates—a hypothesis repeatedly used by EPA regulators to justify the agency’s regulations.
For years, environmentalists and regulators have cited childhood asthma as an excuse for ever-stricter pollution rules. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for instance, uses asthma as a pretext for nearly every “clean air” regulation issued since the 1970s.
But what if the assumed link between air pollution and childhood asthma doesn’t actually exist?
New research questions the long-held wisdom on asthma and air pollution, casting doubt over the scientific basis for EPA’s expansive regulatory agenda….
The study still points to air pollution as a cause for asthma, only it’s indoor air pollution—think second hand smoke, rodents, mold, etc.—that may be the main culprit.
I am skeptical about climate models since most of the models have proven to be terrible at predicting anything. I have to admire the chutzpah of the EPA for advocating new regulations while ignoring the IPCC forecasting problem. This irony was not lost on the folks over at Watts Up With That who wrote, EPA leaves out the most vital number in their fact sheet, and are more than willing to provide the “temperature change avoided” metric. It is hard for me to imagine how we can plan our work and work our plan without using the temperature change metric as one of our key goals. The problem is that it is only 0.018°C and considering our measurement error this would make this goal indistinguishable from zero. In the annals of government failure this is one of those times where we achieved our objective before we have even started and are still going ahead with the plan.
The EPA highlighted what the plan would achieve in their “By the Numbers” Fact Sheet that accompanied their big announcement.
For some reason, they left off their Fact Sheet how much climate change would be averted by the plan. Seems like a strange omission since, after all, without the threat of climate change, there would be no one thinking about the forced abridgement of our primary source of power production in the first place, and the Administration’s new emissions restriction scheme wouldn’t even be a gleam in this or any other president’s eye.
But no worries. What the EPA left out, we’ll fill in.
Using a simple, publically-available, climate model emulator called MAGICC that was in part developed through support of the EPA, we ran the numbers as to how much future temperature rise would be averted by a complete adoption and adherence to the EPA’s new carbon dioxide restrictions*.
The answer? Less than two one-hundredths of a degree Celsius by the year 2100.
0.018°C to be exact.
We’re not even sure how to put such a small number into practical terms, because, basically, the number is so small as to be undetectable.
Recently I have been pondering whether climate science is a valid science theory if it is consistently wrong. If we look at the definition of science from Wikipedia we get this definition.
When we look at Dr. Spencer’s graph shown on the right we can see that over 95% of the climate models are wrong. If the late Nobel prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman, was looking at that chart he probably would say this.
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.
I will go one step further. You do not have a valid climate science theory until you successfully predict or explain something non-trivial about the global average temperature. Until then you are just a technician collecting data. The average person expects that when they are told that a government policy is based on science, it is based on science that has successfully predicted something. In the case of climate science we find that government policies are being proposed because “ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities”. If 95% of the climate models are wrong how can climate scientists say climate-warming trends are likely due to human activities? Where is the science that is successfully predicting something? Are we to infer that since the surface temperature stopped rising during the past decade that human activities stopped rising too? When you say that climate-warming trends are very likely due to human activities you did not leave any wiggle room for www.climate.gov to argue that natural climate cycles slowed down the rise during the past decade. Until the climate scientists can predict something non-trivial about the global average temperature it sure looks like we have put the cart before the horse.
This week an American Lung Association ad, Red Carriage Advertisement III, caught my attention. This ad associates childhood asthma and to the pollution generated by power plants. In my life I have never seen an asthma attack triggered by pollution from a power plant so I am skeptical. Today I decided to check on their allegation. I found that the EPA site has a page on asthma triggers, http://www.epa.gov/asthma/triggers.html, and power plant pollution is not one of nine major sources listed on that page. The closet source I could find to power plant pollution was Outdoor Air Pollution so I followed that link. This category includes car exhaust, smoke, road dust, factory emissions, and pollen from plants, crops and weeds. From my limited experience around asthma sufferers, I suspect that power plant pollution would rank third or lower in this category at causing asthma attacks.
To put a face on the problem with pollution politics here is a power plant we go by every time we go to Virginia Tech. Across from the plant is a gas station I have stopped at on several of my trips. This part of my trip is one of the most scenic parts of my trip. The air is clean, the nearby forests are lush, and the water in the New River is cold and fast. It is no surprise that the gas station is full of hunting and fishing supplies. So where do we draw the line when you cannot see, smell, or taste pollution? Are we trying to fix a problem that does not affect this community? In this rural area there are probably only two sources of good paying jobs, this plant and the chemical plant a few miles away at the Narrows. I suspect that the closing of this plant will be catastrophic for the community. I doubt that these employees will find jobs nearby. Although this plant is 92 years old, requires updated scrubber technology, and is probably getting their butts kicked by gas powered generators, it is probably still making money for its parent company, AEP. Despite its money making prowess AEP did not find it to be cost effective to install scrubbers or convert the facility over to gas. To make up for the lost generating capacity AEP appears to have decided to install gas powered generators in some place that is not close to Glen Lyn or its employees. The really big problem I have with pollution politics is that closing this plant will increase rates by 15% and the community will not see, smell, or taste any benefits. The air will still be clear, the forests will still be lush, and the New River will still be cold and fast. For these “improvements” they get dramatically higher unemployment. As a country with a variety of complex business and environmental problems, you would think we would be getting better at balancing the needs of the business, environment, and community. At the very least we should be trying to avoid lose-lose decisions like this. Instead it appears that AEP and the folks around Glen Lyn did not have a say in the matter. We seem to have constructed a political system that is particularly adept at making “good” environmental decisions that appear to be lose-lose decisions for businesses and communities. We seem to have lost our way on how to make decisions that balances the needs of most of the people. We may not be able to satisfy everyone but we not even trying to balance the needs of these different groups. The sad part is that when this plant is closed, asthma sufferers will still be suffering from the same old triggers of asthma attacks. Nothing has changed for them!
Appalachian Power customers could see up to a 15 percent increase in monthly bills as a result.
By Laurence Hammack | The Roanoke Times
The Roanoke Times | File 2003
American Electric Power announced today that the Glen Lyn Plant along the New River in Giles County will be closed by Dec. 31, 2014. The plant is one of 11 in seven states to be retired or modified by AEP to meet new regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A coal-burning power plant in Giles County that has spewed carbon emissions for years faces a shutdown to comply with clean-air requirements ”” and consumers are facing the possibility of higher electric bills
Here is the comment I made on The Foundry blog to this post, EPA Set to Implement Economically Ruinous Regulations on Power Plants.
I love breathing clean air and seeing clean water, too. One of the best ways is to drive right through the heart of coal country, West Virginia. My son goes to school at Virginia Tech and our route to Blacksburg goes through numerous national parks in east Ohio, West Virginia, and Southwest Virginia. I read that there are many coal mines and electrical generating plants nearby but they are not seen from the road and they definitely do not spoil the air. The one place I get to see a plant is along of my favorite stretches on the route. Nestled next to the New river is an electrical generating power plant quietly doing its job. Awhile back I stopped at the convenience store next to the plant. Considering the merchandise on display and the people in the store, I think it is fair to say that workers at the plant are passionate about their hunting and fishing. I suspect that both plant management and workers have a vested interest in protecting their local fishing hole. In all of my trips through West Virginia I have yet to see or smell pollution.
So I am confused. How is this supposed to work? We let the EPA create a back door national energy policy that picks winners and losers in the energy market, will likely raise electrical prices, shut down plants, and put people out of work. The EPA was created to be an antagonist to business for some real environmental concerns. Now it appears their mission is to antagonize the American people over environmental issues we cannot detect without sophisticated instruments. How is this good for America? Does this mean we should shut down the Energy department since EPA is in charge of the national energy policy. Is the final solution for the EPA and the crowning glory of our environmental effort to turn Washington, DC, back into a swamp? I suspect that the folks in West Virginia will never see or smell any of the benefits of the new EPA regulations but they will notice the people out of work. This sure looks like a policy created by folks who never have been to West Virginia. I love breathing clean air and seeing clean water but on this issue I think our priorities are screwed up.