Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Massachusetts v. EPA

The recent Massachusetts v. EPA decision concluded that the EPA has authority to regulate CO2 emissions. It is now up to the EPA to determine if there is truly a link (empirical vs. theoretical) between anthropogenic CO2 and global warming. It also must determine if the problem is serious enough to devote its resources to developing standards for CO2 emissions.

Some are urging congress to pass legislation to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. A first step could involve corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. How many lives are worth how many tons of CO2 reduction? The National Academy of Sciences 2001 report on CAFE standards estimates that the lethal impact of CAFE related changes in automobile designs results in the loss of 1300-2600 lives per year. Ford's share of the blame for the Explorer/Firestone debacle can largely be linked to CAFE related factors. Amendments to the Clean Air Act brought us the poisonous oxygenate-groundwater pollutant MTBE. These are just some instances of what could result from an overzealous reaction.

Legislated CO2 reductions that slow economic growth would disproportionately affect low-income people. This legislation also has the potential to create ‘rent seeking’ opportunities for big business. Enron was a top corporate supporter for the adoption of the Kyoto Treaty because of the expected profits that would result. When California was developing regulations for reformulated gasoline, Unocal influenced the legislation to mirror some of its own refining patents.

Instead mandating the pollution of our groundwater with energy additives, increasing the fatality rate in automobile accidents, or creating profit opportunities for big business, perhaps a better approach for dealing with climate change or any environmental problem is to develop resilient market based economies that are able to invest in the technology necessary to adapt to ever changing resource constraints.

Monday, April 23, 2007


In 1632, Aristotle’s model of the universe that maintained the earth as the center was the ‘consensus’ view of the time. Galileo was labeled as a heretic for his heliocentric theory. Although his ideas came to be accepted in later centuries, Aristotles views remained the ‘enforced’ consensus for a long period of time. Consensus is supposed to be the result of free and liberal thinkers arriving at the same conclusions, deriving those conclusions from repeatable methods of inquiry, or in other words the scientific method. Today, more emphasis seems to be placed on consensus building vs. scientific inquiry. Those that challenge the status quo view of anthropogenic global warming are labeled ‘holocaust deniers’ and some are even threatened by the loss of their job. Jerome Scmitt, president of NanoEngineering Corporation gives a great take on this issue commenting on the American Thinker blog.

“The dawn of the 21st century sees relentless strident attempts to enforce consensus about global warming theory. These modern inquisitors, replete with Supreme Court rulings, brand "deniers" of impending apocalyptic global warming as heretics who lack blind faith in the theology of infallible computer models. Today's Galileos are being threatened with loss of their positions, credentials and titles. Foisting theories upon scientists and the public by means of verbal persuasion, elections, court orders, or intimidation is the opposite of the scientific method of determining the truth.”


Monday, April 02, 2007


Advances in biotechnology have made new industrial biotech processes possible. They allow the use of renewable resources for ingredients which decrease costs and the impact on the environment. They often also reduce the use of petroleum-based energy sources, cut greenhouse gas emissions and even reduce water use.

Bio-based enzymes and polymers derived from GM plants lower the amount of green house gasses emitted and release fewer toxic chemicals into the air and water. The resulting products are more durable and often biodegradable.

SOURCE: Farm Industry News Feb 1, 2007