I heard over a week ago that the EPA has finally pulled the trigger and declared CO2 a pollutant that needs to be regulated. It’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. What gets totally neglected here is the fact that plants (that grass growing in your yard, for example) feed on CO2. It is actually healthy for the environment. It’s not like CO (carbon monoxide), which is poisonous to most living things. I feel like a broken record saying this, but CO2 is in such low concentrations in the atmosphere that it doesn’t really matter to the climate, and the observational data shows that at these levels it follows temperature. It does not cause temperature to rise. The EPA is acting on pseudo-science.
In addition the EPA has declared other greenhouse gases as pollutants that need to be regulated: methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.
Methane is emitted by us humans when we “pass gas”. One of the largest sources of methane is animals: cows, pigs, etc. So I’m waiting with a bit of a chuckle to see what the EPA is going to do about that. The thing is of all the greenhouse gases, this is the most innocuous. It doesn’t stay in the atmosphere long and its concentration is extremely small, less than CO2.
I did some research on Wikipedia for the others.
Nitrous oxide is commonly referred to as “laughing gas”. It’s used in medical settings as a mild sedative. It’s also used in rocket engines.
Hydrofluorocarbons are the latest in a line of refrigerants used in air conditioners. We went from freon, a chlorofluorocarbon, to hydrochlorofluorocarbons (which were seen as more environmentally friendly, but are now being phased out), to hydrofluorocarbons. Now the EPA says this is bad stuff, since it’s supposedly a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. So who knows what’s going to happen with air conditioners. Well heck, they’ll probably come after our air conditioners just because of the amount of power they use (CO2, remember?)
Perfluorcarbons are used in medical applications, and in the production of aluminum.
Sulfur hexafluoride is used in electricity production facilities.
The EPA’s ruling recommends regulating “smokestacks” and “tailpipes”. I assume the latter refers to our vehicles. There’s been talk that even though the Senate took out Obama’s cap and trade program from the 2010 budget, that it may reconsider it given this ruling. I fully expect that some sort of tax is going to be placed on our vehicles for the CO2 we emit, whether it’s a gax tax or mileage tax, or something along those lines. They’re considering such a thing in Oregon right now.
I’m not surprised by this, just disappointed. Energy is going to get more expensive. That’s the bottom line. Other things we use may be affected, such as air conditioners, but it’s hard to say at this point.
I am suspicious of this ruling since at least a part of it I know is not based on sound science. There may very well be cause for concern about hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. I don’t know anything about them except what I researched for this post. It seems to me that the ruling is targeted primarily at two things: factories and farming. And it would not surprise me if EPA guidelines end up reducing the number of both in the long run in this country. I read comments in the Christian Science Monitor article I link to saying that this will accelerate the movement of factories to Asia, particularly China. So much for Obama’s plan of saving jobs.
As Robert J. Samuelson recently wrote, the “new energy” economy Obama says he has planned does not look to be a net jobs creator. It is likely to reduce employment.
Another thing to get distressed over is a bill that was recently passed in congress, which allows those “affected” by global warming to sue corporations who have been deemed to have “contributed” to the problem. Low on cash? Sidle up and suck the teat of manufacturers and energy companies for some “carbon damages”. I see resort areas taking advantage of this one, just as my home town of Boulder did not too long ago when they sued the federal government for this.