"'The catalytic converter has had a profound impact on our environment,' says Jim Kliesch, senior engineer for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Advances in the catalytic converter, which rolled out on GM's 1975 model-year cars, and computer-controlled fuel injection technology have all but eliminated tailpipe emissions, he says."
Quotes on Environmental Impacts of Climate Change
"Looking abroad, the United States will continue to seek to conclude an international convention on global climate change in time for its signing at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil. In our view, such a convention must be comprehensive in scope, addressing all sources and sinks of greenhouse gases, adaptation as well as mitigation measures, and continued scientific and economic research and policy responses. The United States is committed to a series of domestic actions that have many benefits such as curbing air pollution, conserving energy, and restoring forest lands and that also help to curb greenhouse gas levels. These actions -- recently established in law or proposed by my Administration -- will hold U.S. net emissions of greenhouse gases at or below the 1987 level through the foreseeable future. An effective response to potential climate change also requires that all nations participate and meet obligations that are appropriate to their circumstances."
"I hope it will become clear that the designation, 'skeptic,' simply confuses an issue where popular perceptions are based in significant measure on misuse of language as well as misunderstanding of science. Indeed, the identification of some scientists as 'skeptics' permits others to appear 'mainstream' while denying views held by the so-called 'skeptics' even when these views represent the predominant views of the field."
"Overall, the area of the Antarctic with trends indicating a lengthening of the sea ice season by at least one day per year was 5.6 million square kilometers (2.16 million square miles), about 60 percent the size of the United States. At the same time, the area with sea ice seasons shortening by at least one day per year was 3 million square kilometers (1.16 million square miles)."
"Recent studies, which examined temperature rises of up to 5°C (9°F) and precipitation increases of 0–15%, indicate that climate change in the range projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the 21st century would be beneficial for agriculture and forestry in the U.S. and other developed countries. Crops grow better at higher atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2). The warmer, wetter world projected on average by climate models would mean longer growing seasons, less threat of frost damage, and in some areas, less threat of drought."
"The physical basis for forecasting benefits to intensively-managed ecosystems, (i.e., higher CO2 concentration promoting faster plant growth, warmer temperature leading to longer growing seasons and less potential for frost damage, and more precipitation leading to less risk of drought) is strong enough to provide confidence in the benefits of 2–3°C of warming, but uncertainty grows as the level of warming increases. For the US, which has been subjected to more analysis than any other part of the world, the benefits extend out to double the temperature level considered by the IPCC (5°C vs. 2.5°C). More scientific study and modeling will be needed to determine the extent to which this result can be generalized to other countries and regions. However, there is clearly room for more optimism than exhibited by the IPCC."
"Not all of the impacts on ecosystems of projected climate change will be negative. As in the case of agriculture, a warmer, wetter, higher CO2 world will be beneficial for uncultivated plants. Global ecosystem models project higher net biomass production, ... and observations of a variety of tree species indicate that they are already responding to higher atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and higher temperatures ... with increased growth rates. Warmer, wetter conditions, and increased biomass production, also could be expected to benefit some animal species."
"Perhaps most egregious, this work makes what the famed agronomist Paul Waggoner has called the 'dumb people' assumption: that people won't adapt to changing conditions. In fact, we have been preserving diversity artificially, in parks and zoos, for centuries. In addition, the amount of 'artificial' genetic diversity is rising dramatically with the technology of modern genetics. It is difficult to imagine, decades from now, that these technologies would not be applied to ameliorate a prospective massive extinction."
"Novel prospects for the Maldives do not include a condemnation to future flooding. The people of the Maldives have, in the past, survived a higher sea level of about 50-60 cm. The present trend lack signs of a sea level rise. On the contrary, there is firm morphological evidence of a significant sea level fall in the last 30 years. This sea level fall is likely to be the effect of increased evaporation and an intensification of the NE-monsoon over the central Indian Ocean."
"What evidence is there that GHG emissions cause or contribute to coral bleaching? According to the comprehensive Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2004, ... 'The coral bleaching in 1998 was a 1 in a 1,000-year event in many regions with no past history of such damage in official government records or in the memories of traditional cultures of the affected coral reef countries.' Approximately 16 percent of the world’s reefs were seriously damaged. ... According to the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report ..., the 1990s were 'very likely' the 'warmest decade' and 1998 the 'warmest year' of the past 1,000 years. ... In addition, the IPCC concludes that, 'most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities'.... Thus, it would seem, the bleaching events of 1998 were likely due to mankind’s enhancement of the greenhouse effect.
In fact, however, the asserted linkage between anthropogenic warming and coral bleaching is problematic. To begin with, there is considerable evidence that the 1990s were not the warmest decade of the past millennium. A wealth of proxy data confirm the reality of a world-wide Medieval Warm Period (circa A.D. 800-1300), when average temperatures in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America were as warm as or warmer than they are today. ... When scientists compare apples to apples, using proxy data to track 20th century temperatures, the mid-1930s and early 1940s appear to be warmer than the 1990s. ... Yet there is no evidence of mass bleaching/mortality events in the 1930s and 1940s."
"Although the [polar] bears seem to be hurting in some places, like the Hudson Bay region south of here, their numbers have increased worldwide. In Canada, home to most of the world's polar bears, the population has risen by more than 20 percent in the past decade."
"The North American warming of 1998 contributed significantly to make 1998 as the globally warmest year of the 1990s. Since mid-1998, the [Sea Surface Temperatures] (SST) values are slowly declining suggesting that the earth's land area mean temperature may be governed more by worldwide SST distribution and less by enhanced greenhouse gas warming. Further, increased urbanization and land-use change over various regions of the earth are now considered to be significant contributors to the earth's surface warming in recent years."
"...[O]ur perception of drought and flood frequencies is greatly affected by human activities that are not climate-related. Thus, we must carefully determine whether the cause of changing flood and drought frequencies is, in fact, due to climate change or simply a result of a changing landscape.
More importantly, the notion that increases in greenhouse gas concentrations will increase flood and drought frequencies runs counter to our understanding of the climate system. It has been argued that global warming could cause the Earth’s polar regions to warm more than the tropics due to a number of factors, including the exposure of darker land surfaces as snow and ice melt, and the fact that the same energy input will warm cold, dry air more than warm, moist air. But global atmospheric circulation is driven by the temperature difference between the poles and the equator. A significant decrease in that temperature difference is consistent with global warming, but it would reduce global atmospheric circulation rather than increase it. The diminished transport of energy and moisture would decrease the frequency of heavy rainfall and weaken atmospheric currents that steer storms. Indeed, during warmer periods in the past, the number and severity of storms has declined. The fact that no significant deviations from long-term trends have been observed in flood, tropical cyclone, tornado and hail frequencies (despite an increase in air temperatures over the last century) is consistent with a decrease in global atmospheric circulation. What is inconsistent is the claim that severe weather is increasing due to global warming when the atmospheric currents that contribute to these phenomena are decreasing."
"Warming theory proponents also argue that a warmer Arctic with less sea ice poses a significant risk to polar bear populations (and other indigenous species). ... Indeed, the Arctic Assessment concluded 'global warming could cause polar bears to go extinct by the end of the century by eroding the sea ice that sustains them.' This is misleading because, as discussed above, Arctic air temperatures in the 1930s were as high as present temperatures and Arctic air temperatures prior to the Little Ice Age were higher than present temperatures, yet polar bears survived."
"Our knowledge of sea level fluctuations is relatively recent, but there is evidence that sea levels have risen (although not steadily) since we emerged from the last ice age about 20,000 years ago. Global air temperatures do affect sea levels, which changed over the last millennium as temperatures rose and fell from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age. The rate of change in coastal sea levels has varied in just the last 50 years and much more over the millennia. The evidence shows that this sea-level rise is not uniform."
"Which causes more greenhouse gas emissions, rearing cattle or driving cars?
According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation."
"First of all, there is no longer any serious debate over the basic points that make up the consensus on global warming. The ten warmest years on record have all been since 1990. Globally, 2005 was the hottest of all. In the United States, 2006 was the warmest year ever. The winter months of December 2006 through February 2007 make up the warmest winter on record. These rising temperatures have been accompanied by many changes. Hurricanes are getting stronger. Sea levels are rising. Droughts are becoming longer and more intense. Mountain glaciers are receding around the world."
"Please keep in mind what the proposition is. It is not a debate over whether the earth has been warming over the past century. The earth is always warming or cooling, at least a few tenths of a degree.... Indeed, as far as I can tell, even our opponents do not claim that global warming is a crisis at present. Rather, we are primarily addressing the future. Now, much of the current alarm, I would suggest, is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate."
"Two years ago as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation, I traveled to Barrow, Alaska. That's the northern most point of the United States. And I also traveled through on my way there the Yukon Territory in Canada. Traveling over those vast coniferous forests that blanket those harsh unforgiving latitudes, I looked down to see dead trees as far as the eye could reach. These trees are part of an ecosystem formed to survive brutal conditions. But the giant spruce trees of the Yukon, some centuries old, are no match for a relative newcomer: a tiny insect known as the bark beetle. The forests, it turns out, were once protected by cold, cold winters. The beetle could not survive. But warmer temperatures have allowed this invasive species to travel into higher latitudes and wreak unnatural havoc. In once pristine forests, there was devastation. Millions of acres infested. Whole swaths of land - once green - now brown.
When we arrived in Barrow, virtually everyone I spoke to had a personal wake up call about what was happening in the climate. A visit to a boyhood watering hole revealed a dried up lakebed. A native village uprooted by erosion. I met lifelong participants in dogsled races who told me they no longer even needed to wear gloves during those races. At the top of the world, you hear stories -- affirmed by decades of scientific investigation -- of changing weather patterns, melting ice, retreating glaciers, unprecedented wildfires, eroding coasts, and invasive species. You can see the evidence with your own eyes. There are no climate change skeptics inside the Arctic Circle."
"Climate change involves complicated science and generates vigorous debate. Many are concerned about the effect of climate change on our environment. Many are concerned about the effect of climate change policies on our economy. I share these concerns, and I believe they can be sensibly reconciled.
Over the past 7 years, my administration has taken a rational, balanced approach to these serious challenges. We believe we need to protect our environment. We believe we need to strengthen our energy security. We believe we need to grow our economy. And we believe the only way to achieve these goals is through continued advances in technology. So we've pursued a series of policies aimed at encouraging the rise of innovation, as well as more cost-effective clean energy technologies that can help America and developing nations reduce greenhouse gases, reduce our dependence on oil, and keep our economies vibrant and strong for the decades to come."
"Prior to 1979, the extent of Arctic sea ice was measured haphazardly and sporadically. Some localized, nonstandardized measurements were taken periodically by ships without advanced positioning equipment and are not considered accurate. Satellite imaging has only allowed measurement from about 1979, coinciding with a period of climate warming, which makes it inherently nonrepresentative of longer time periods. ...
But from the limited data available, it does seem that in recent years the extent of Arctic sea ice has shown steady shrinkage. Overall, Northern Hemispheric ice cover has been trending downward at about 3 percent per decade."
"At present, polar bear populations are robust and, according to native people, are considerably larger than they were in previous decades. ... Predictions of polar bear endangerment are based on two sets of computer models: one set predicts how much Arctic sea ice will melt as a result of global warming, and the other predicts how polar bear populations will respond. But computer models of climate are known to be fraught with problems, and the ecological models used to predict polar bear response are equally limited.
Because of extreme limitations in data, it is essentially impossible to decide whether polar bears are endangered and whether their habitat is threatened by man-made global warming or other natural climate cycles. This is acknowledged by the experts themselves—the actual IUCN/SSC report is more broad in naming causes and more conservative about estimating their effects.
What we do know about polar bears is that, contrary to media portrayals, they are not fragile 'canary in the coal mine' animals, but are robust creatures that have survived past periods of extensive deglaciation. Polar bear fossils have been dated to over one hundred thousand years, which means that polar bears have already survived an interglacial period when temperatures were considerably warmer than they are at present and when, quite probably, levels of summertime Arctic sea ice were correspondingly low."
"According to a rough 1889 survey Kibo's icecap occupied about 12.5 square miles but this had dwindled to about 7.5 square miles by 1912, to about 4.3 square miles by 1953, and just over 1.5 square miles by 2003."
"'Higher temperatures make weather patterns more unstable': In fact, the reverse
is true. The world has warmed by 0.7 degrees C since 1900: yet, despite this warming, the number of landfalling Atlantic hurricanes shows no trend at all throughout the 20th century; the number of intense tropical cyclones and typhoons has been falling throughout the 30-year period of the satellite record; and it is settled science that, outside the tropics, warmer weather will generally mean fewer storms, because the differential between warmer and cooler parts of the globe will diminish."
"No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent. More frequent droughts and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees. The security and stability of each nation and all peoples—our prosperity, our health, and our safety—are in jeopardy, and the time we have to reverse this tide is running out."
"(1) In the last 2000 years, sea level has oscillated with 5 peaks reaching 0.6 to 1.2 m above the present sea level.
(2) From 1790 to 1970 sea level was about 20 cm higher than today.
(3) In the 1970s, sea level fell by about 20 cm to its present level.
(4) Sea level has remained stable for the last 30 years, implying that there are no traces of any alarming on-going sea level rise.
(5) Therefore, we are able to free the Maldives (and the rest of low-lying coasts and island around the globe) from the condemnation of becoming flooded in the near future."
"Now, the UN’s vaunted 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report turns out to contain a whopper. The report describes as 'very high' the likelihood that continued global warming will cause the glaciers in Himalayan Mountains to disappear by 2035 if not sooner. Amazingly, it turns out that the source of this claim is an unsupported statement of one researcher that appeared in a magazine article. Worse yet, the IPCC report’s editors knew full well that the assertion was based on speculation rather than peer reviewed science, and in fact it was disputed by several scientists when it appeared in early drafts. Nonetheless, it was left in for political reasons."
"Now a new report published on Wednesday in Nature addresses the impact of another greenhouse gas: nitrous oxide, or N2O, which is about 300 times as powerful as CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. As with CO2, atmospheric concentrations of N2O have been boosted by human activity, mostly agricultural, by about 16% since the Industrial Revolution began. ...
But the Nature study throws an unexpected twist into the N2O story. Biologists had long assumed that the farming of cattle and other livestock was part of the reason for rising nitrous oxide levels, because the animals' grazing disrupts the natural cycle that draws nitrogen into the soil. Instead, according to new research, it turns out that in some places, grazing actually reduces N2O emissions. 'It's quite surprising,' says Steve Del Grosso, a soil scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Fort Collins, Colo., who wrote a commentary accompanying the research in Nature."
"My concern is that there has been no significant increase in extreme weather – just an increase in its coverage with a more global media and an increase in its hype due to the political ramifications that climate change can have."
"In finding that GHGs [greenhouse gases] fit within the ‘capacious’ definition of the CAA [Clean Air Act] term ‘air pollutant,’ the Supreme Court relied on a provision that was included in the 1970 version of the CAA long before concern developed as to the effect of GHG emissions on climate change. Congress has thus never intentionally authorized EPA to regulate GHGs under the CAA. With EPA proceeding with GHG regulation, Congress must now decide whether such regulation represents wise public policy."
"Official statistics show that the population in areas threatened by global warming is actually rising. The expected environmental disasters have yet to materialize.
In October 2005, UNU said: 'Amid predictions that by 2010 the world will need to cope with as many as 50 million people escaping the effects of creeping environmental deterioration, United Nations University experts say the international community urgently needs to define, recognize and extend support to this new category of "refugee."'
It added that 'such problems as sea level rise, expanding deserts and catastrophic weather-induced flooding have already contributed to large permanent migrations and could eventually displace hundreds of millions.'"
"Satellite measurements show global sea level has risen merely 0.83 inches during the first decade of the twenty-first century (a pace of eight inches for the century) and has barely risen at all since 2006. This puts alarmists in the embarrassing position of defending predictions that are not coming true in the real world.
The University of Colorado Sea Level Research Group is coming to their rescue. The NASA-funded group claims glacial melt is removing weight that had been pressing down on land masses, which in turn is causing land mass to rise. This welcome news mitigates sea-level rise from melting glacial ice and shows another of the Earth’s remarkable self-adjusting processes.
However, it is very inconvenient for alarmist sea-level predictions. Therefore, instead of reporting the amount by which sea level is rising in the real world, the Sea Level Research Group has begun adding 0.3 millimeters per year of fictitious sea-level rise to actual sea levels."
"The Clean Air Act was passed in 1963, and was last significantly amended over 20 years ago, in 1990. That should raise the question of why the EPA has only now realized that it needs so many more bureaucrats to administer it. The answer is that the Clean Air Act doesn't apply to the emissions of what we now call greenhouse gases (GHG), especially carbon dioxide (CO2), from power generation.
The notion that the Act would empower the EPA to regulate GHG emissions began only a few years ago, when, at the height of global warming alarmism, a group of blue states, led by Massachusetts, banded together with a gamut of environmental pressure groups to sue the EPA, contending that greenhouse gases were indeed pollutants and that the EPA should regulate them under the Act. In short, the EPA, in its recent filings, is legitimizing a groundless activist lawsuit."
"...to treat CO2 and other such gasses as if they were particulate air pollution would eventually lead to the enforced deindustrialization of the United States. The expansion of the EPA would be the first step along that road. Yet the agency did not advance the argument that such an interpretation would lead to absurd results clearly not intended by Congress."
"Let me turn to some of the problems the non-pollutant CO2 is supposed to cause. CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet, and we should thank Providence for that, because without the greenhouse warming of CO2 and its more potent partners, water vapor and clouds, the earth would be too cold to sustain its current abundance of life. Other things being equal, more CO2 will cause more warming. The question is how much warming, and whether the increased CO2 and the warming it causes will be good or bad for the planet. More CO2 is supposed to cause cities to flood, parched agriculture, tropical diseases in Alaska, etc., and even an epidemic of kidney stones.
The argument starts something like this. CO2 levels have increased from about 270 ppm to 390 ppm over the past 150 years or so, and the earth has warmed by about 0.8 C during that time. Therefore the warming is due to CO2. But correlation is not causation. The local rooster crows every morning at sunrise, but that does not mean the rooster caused the sun to rise. The sun will still rise on Monday if you decide to have the rooster for Sunday dinner."
"Let me summarize how the key issues appear to me, a working scientist with a better background than most in the physics of climate. CO2 really is a greenhouse gas and, other things being equal, adding CO2 to the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas will modestly increase the surface temperature of the earth. Other things being equal, doubling the CO2 concentration, from our current 390 ppm to 780 ppm will directly cause about one degree Celsius warming. At the current rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere —about 2 ppm per year— it would take about 195 years to achieve this doubling. The combination of a slightly warmer earth and more CO2 will greatly increase the production of food, wood, fiber, and other products by green plants, so the increased CO2 will be good for the planet, and will easily outweigh any negative effects. Supposed calamities like the accelerated rise of sea level, ocean acidification, more extreme climate, tropical diseases near the poles, etc. are greatly exaggerated."
"Now the Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate atmospheric CO2 as a 'pollutant.' According to my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, to pollute is 'to make or render unclean, to defile, to desecrate, to profane.' By breathing are we rendering the air unclean, defiling or desecrating it? Efforts are underway to remedy the old-fashioned, restrictive definition of pollution. The current Wikipedia entry on air pollution, for example, now asserts that pollution includes: 'carbon dioxide (C02)—a colorless, odorless, non-toxic greenhouse gas associated with ocean acidification, emitted from sources such as combustion, cement production, and respiration.'"