Green House Gases (GHG)

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Desertrat, Dec 2, 2007.

  1. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Ran across this article at Whiskey & Gunpowder. Some interesting numbers comparing energy use, productivity, and emissions.

    It's lengthy, but IMO it's worth the read. And, he speaks to total environmental impacts, which few go beyond CO2 to do.

    http://www.whiskeyandgunpowder.com/Archives/2007/20071130.html

    "To recap, here’s what I wrote on this topic on June 20 of last year, as derived from statistics from GeoHive, the Pew Center, the World Resources Institute and other sources:

    Measured on a per-unit-of-oil-consumed scale, the U.S. produces less GHG than every other major developed or developing nation except Japan (we’re on a par with militantly green Germany). While consuming 25.4% of the world’s oil in 2000, we emitted only 20.6% of the GHGs. Compare that to China’s 6.5% of world oil consumption versus 14.8% of the GHGs (2.8 times as much as the U.S. per unit of oil consumed); India’s 3.0% consumption versus 5.5% GHG (2.26 times as much as the U.S. per barrel); and Russia’s 3.5% consumption versus 5.7% GHG (more than twice as much per unit as the U.S.). Even darling of the greenies Canada belches more GHG per barrel of oil consumed than the U.S.

    Measured in terms of economic yield (meaning how much we get from the oil we use), one need only compare GHG emission to gross domestic product (GDP) to get the full picture of just how much more effectively the U.S. consumes fossil fuels than almost any other industrialized nation on Earth (again, Japan and Germany are the exceptions). In 2000, America produced 39% more dollars in domestic GDP per unit of GHG expelled than Canada, 569% more dollars per GHG than India, a whopping 642% more dollars per GHG than China, and an incredible 1,041% more GDP per unit of GHG than the Russian Federation.
    Remember, this is data from seven years ago. The picture is even bleaker based on the latest data, which shows that China alone is on the verge of eclipsing America’s total output of GHGs — and will no doubt dwarf us in the near future, if economic and fossil-fuel consumption numbers from the last few years are any indication."

    'Rat
     
  2. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #2
    But if you're not sure that GHGs, and humans in general, are responsible for global climate changes, what does it matter how many GHGs are emitted per unit of something and by whom?

    Or are you trying to tell us that as long as we're polluting more efficiently than most everyone else, that's ok?

    Or are you just pointing out how efficient Americans still are?
     
  3. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Several points: One is that there are limits to how much reduction can be effected in the improvement process. Folks don't seem to recall that the U.S. has been working on efficiency in its energy use for about 35 years, now. We've gone from 100-watt bulbs as commonplace down to 60s and 40s. We've gotten gas mileage up from around 11 mpg to the 28-ish number--and removed a helluva lot of the bad chemicals.

    It's in no way justified to continue working on improvements, across the spectrum, but note in the article about the alleged improvements via methanol and bio-diesel versus the total impact on the environment. I've already commented before about the drawdown of the Ogalalla, the reduction in wildlife habitat and the monoculture addition to fertilizer requirements.

    To some extent we're in the process of creating drinking water from sewage effluent: For a million bucks, you can remove 90% of the grunge in Stage 1. Stage 2 removes 90% of the remaining grunge, for another million bucks. Then, for another million bucks you remove 90% of the remaining grunge and you can drink the water.

    But Stage 1 removes 90% of the original amount of grunge. Stage 2 removes 9% of the original amount, and Stage 3 removes 0.9%. That's known as the law of diminishing returns; with each step you get less bang for the buck. I'm not saying we're at Stage 3, but we seem to be beyond Stage 1. Each step we take is going to be more expensive.

    The points brought out by the author serve to show that looking at the U.S. as the world's Bad Guy for not signing on to Kyoto is a misplaced view. One aspect of governmental duty is to protect our economy, and enable the affording of many of the coming changes which are now in the beginning of process. (Our society and our government have combined to screw that protection, looks like.)

    Just from what I first posted, it should be obvious that any serious, fast reduction in CO2 must impact our economy. If we already have these efficiencies, it's not possible to make gross reductions without impact.
     
  4. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #4
    When Sputnik was launched, the US poured tons of money into putting a man in space. Not only did they put a man in space, the US became a place of technological innovation. The results were booming businesses like IBM, Boeing, etc, etc. Not only did all that money NOT break the US Treasury, it ended creating thousands upon thousands of jobs.

    The ostrich attitude of bushco, much less its unhealthy connections to the world of big oil, means the US is falling behind when it comes to technological advancement. You can bad mouth the Prius all you want but in the end, Toyota is making money hand over fist. The same can be said for Germany when it comes to wind power and Japan for solar power.

    Economic advancement is tied to technological advancement. Period.

    Ban incandescent bulbs, yeah maybe there's a little mercury involved in CFs but for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. The reaction to technological staleness is economic death. Which would you prefer?
     
  5. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    "Economic advancement is tied to technological advancement. Period."

    Yup. I've been saying that for over a half a century. The space effort just made it really obvious. I read a long time back where the spinoffs generated a 10:1 increase in economic activity over what $$$ went into NASA, and it's way beyond that now.

    But what I am is cautious about jumping on bandwagons about some advancement which might be advancing down a wrong trail. Just because something is new and different doesn't necessarily mean no bad side effects or a dead end. But, I notice that the bandwagon boys don't like questions about their newest toy.

    Sure, Toyota's making money--but I doubt it's per-car on Prius. And they're evading some serious environmental costs in the production of the batteries.
     
  6. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #6
    'Rat, I don't mean any offense with the following so don't take it personally.

    Awhile back I read an article about NASA's future and one of the biggest problems they face is that about half of their employees are going to be retiring in the next decade. What that essentially means is that NASA is run by a bunch of old farts. In my experience, it's the young who are willing to take chances. Older employees don't want to do anything that will endanger their pensions.

    While many fear for NASA's future, the next decade should be pretty exciting. A lot of fresh, young blood will be coming on board with new visions for the future. The space program has become pretty boring lately. There's no vision, no drive to expand beyond what was dreamed up in the 70s.

    It's not just NASA either, it's the entire government workforce.

    Solar and wind and wave power aren't going to solve the world's energy problems but they're a step in the right direction. Did NASA achieve what it did by extreme fiscal restraints and a need for ROI? I didn't think so. A lot of money was wasted but a lot of seemingly wasteful basic research also ended up being very valuable in the long run.

    Nimbyism is going to kill nuclear power, or at least significantly hamper its development in the US, much less nuclear's phenomenal water requirements.

    We need to max out solar, wind and wave and unfortunately that's not going to happen until a lot of gold watches have been given away.
     
  7. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #7
    Are you still harping on that college kid's newspaper article?

    Did you ever go back and read my rebuttal to those charges?
     
  8. imac/cheese macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    If I am reading what you are trying to say correctly, I think you are misrepresenting your statistics.

    When a barrel of oil is burned, the carbon in that oil is combined with oxygen in the air to create Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide (sometimes combined with a few other hydrocarbon by-products). Since the amount of carbon that goes in must equal the amount of carbon that comes out so burning a barrel of oil will produce the same amount of carbon dioxide whether it is burned in china or america. There is really nothing you can do to keep CO2 from forming and nothing that can be done to filter it or reduce its production. In general CO2 is considered a harmless gas except it is a GHG and can have long term effects in the atmosphere. Other green house gases that can form are NOx, methane, O3. CO2 is by far the most abundant of these GHGs.

    CO2 is also created when burning natural gas, wood, and coal. What your statistics show me is not that the US is extra efficient in burning oil, but that we burn a ton of oil while other countries must be burning fuels like coal. This would keep their oil consumption down while at the same time increase their production of GHGs.

    In the end, these statistics really are quite meaningless.
     
  9. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #9

    I might want to point out t hat we can and we do have ways of reducing the other GHG besides CO2. Also on CO2 we also do reduce the amount put into the air. One way is we can and do in some ways collected it. Once it is collected we pump it into under ground wells.

    Also C02 is the least damaging of the GHGs
     
  10. imac/cheese macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    There is no doubt that the other GHGs can be reduced, filtered, removed, etc, and in a pure combustion they are not even produced, but CO2 is always produced and it is the most adundant of the GHGs created during combustion. If we are looking at the amount of GHGs produced, CO2 is by far the largest culprit and since the stats 'Rat was using was speaking of percentages of GHGs, I assumed they included CO2.

    Capturing CO2 is possible. It is also possible to convert it back (using energy to do so) to a synthetic gasoline and burn it again. But this type of activity isn't performed much in the US and would not have affected the statistics in any meaningful way.
     
  11. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    imac/cheese, they aren't "my" statistics: "...derived from statistics from GeoHive, the Pew Center, the World Resources Institute and other sources..."

    Something folks seem to forget: Of the oil we import, about half is used as transportation fuel, producing CO2. The rest goes into petrochemicals, and the energy involved there is electrical. Plastics are a major U.S. export.

    mactastic, folks have talked about "exporting jobs", right? Industrial jobs? Could it be that the countries now operating those industries are less stringent than our laws require, here? Given that we have highly-publicized problems with toxicity in products from China, is it not possible that there might be problems with the environmental purity of processes there? Am I wrong in recalling that I've read reports of serious environmental problems in China with liquid effluents dumped into their rivers?
     
  12. walangij macrumors 6502

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    #12
    +1, I'm way more worried about the potential release of Methane into the atmosphere than CO2 since the potential of the frozen methane to sublime and be released into the atmosphere is far more drastic and has the potential to be more catastrophic than our CO2 emmisions.

    It is always good to refine our energy policy and work for a more sustainable nation IMO, we've done a lot like people have cited, but there's still a lot more we can do for the generations to come. But as OP has said, other countries like India and China are soon going to pollute far more than we do and they are more focused on becoming much bigger economic superpowers rather than earth-friendly nations.
     
  13. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #13
    Ignoring some of the glaring fallacies and obscene bias in that backwards-thinking article and focusing more on the statistics provided...the oil-consumption-to-greenhouse-gas-output comparison is meaningless. Ultimately what's important is gross production of CO2, and in the US, we lose. Big time.

    Simply put, per capita the U.S. releases (to take the Germany example from the article) 2.04 times as much CO2 as Germany. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

    Throwing numbers around to make excuses for the United States' massive CO2 problem is not going to get us anywhere. Recognizing that we have a major problem is the first step, then we can start by making simple moves (as have been made in the so-called "militantly green Germany") to reduce output from basic things: building code, public transportation, vehicle efficiency. Europe and Japan have taught us that you can legislate efficiency and the market will respond.

    [​IMG]

    The "disposable", wasteful culture of the US will end, eventually. Either it will become too expensive to live this way, or we'll finally realize that each of us has an ecological footprint tens of times larger than our fellow inhabitants of Earth living in Asia and Africa.
     
  14. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #14
    I see your point, but when you focus on the Prius, I know your just trying to score some cheap points.

    And I'm guessing that's a "no".
     
  15. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    mac, I've always been at least mildly a contrarian about some aspects of cars. Some five decades of wrench-bending. The Prius just does not impress me as the wisest idea to come down the pike. I can see all-electric cars as good commuter critters for townies. But since we already have gasoline cars which can get 40 to 50 mpg, and diesel cars (VW Rabbit, from way-back-when) which could get 50 to 60 mpg, I fail to be impressed by the Prius. And, its price tag underwhelms me. To me, the Prius is a feel-good "I'm doing something!" deal.

    Other aspects: The world demand for nickel has raised its cost such that the U.S. nickel coin now has an intrinsic value of seven cents. More of these Prius batteries and it'll go up more. There are questions about the long-term availability of lithium, for lithium-ion batteries, if that material gets used for major-scale production of some variety of electro-car.

    I dunno. I just seem to back off and look at bigger pictures than most folks, and try to figure out how to make improvements without a bunch of bad side effects. I'm not against doing; I'm against rushing-in and band-wagon behavior.

    'Rat
     
  16. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #16
    I'm not a fan of the gasoline-hybrid myself either. It's not cost-effective. But is the Prius line doing more environmental damage than the Hummer line is? Hardly. And are there niche markets that can take immediate advantage of a gasoline-hybrid engine? You bet there are.
     
  17. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Well, heck, I said here years ago that the Hummer is a lot like cocaine: It's God's way of telling you that you have too much money.

    A funny about a Prius: A buddy of mine is getting rid of his. It seems that first, the "Check Engine" light comes on. A few minutes later, "Alert" lights come on and it's engine-only. If you pull over and turn off the key and then restart, it's all back to normal for a while. Mr. Toyota can't figure out why, or how to fix it.

    For an honest man, that can create a serious $$$ problem on a trade-in.

    But as cheap as computers are, and as simple as car computers are, I'd think car-makers would have a pretty cheap remove-and-replace deal for when the brain-box shoots craps.
     

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