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Earth China Power News

China's Coal Power Plants Mask Climate Change 464

Posted by Soulskill
from the blowing-smoke dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports on new research revealing that the huge increase in coal-fired power stations in China, up from just over 10 gigawatts (GW) in 2002 to over 80GW in 2006, has masked the impact of global warming in the last decade because of the cooling effect of their sulphur emissions. But scientists warn that rapid warming is likely to resume when the short-lived sulphur pollution – which also causes acid rain – is cleaned up and the full heating effect of long-lived carbon dioxide is felt. 'Reductions in carbon emissions will be more important as China installs scrubbers [on its coal-fired power stations], which reduce sulphur emissions,' says Dr. Robert Kaufman. 'This, and solar insolation increasing as part of the normal solar cycle, [will mean] temperature is likely to increase faster.' The effect also explains the lack of global temperature rise seen between 1940 and 1970 as the effect of the sulphur emissions from increased coal burning outpaced that of carbon emissions, until acid rain controls were introduced, after which temperature rose quickly. 'Warming due to the CO2 released by Chinese industrialization has been partially masked by cooling due to reflection of solar radiation by sulphur emissions,' says Prof Joanna Haigh. 'On longer timescales, with cleaner emissions, the warming effect will be more marked.'"
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China's Coal Power Plants Mask Climate Change

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  • 'Reductions in carbon emissions will be more important as China installs scrubbers [on its coal-fired power stations], which reduce sulphur emissions,'

    So basically never?

    Scrubbers have been required in America since the 1977 revisions to the Clean Air Act. And they're still not used in China. My understanding of the situation (although, full disclaimer I do not speak Chinese nor have I ever been to China) is that the companies simply don't follow regulation [voanews.com]. The latest news is that they just move to non-urban areas to avoid such regulation:

    Carlson Chan is in charge of air quality policy at Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department. He says companies found ways around the stricter limits.

    "When we tightened the sulfur content of industrial diesel from 0.5 percent to 0.005 percent in 1998, the resistance then was not very big, mainly because many manufacturers have moved their factories across the border," he said.

    Just across Hong Kong's border is Guangdong province, the center of China’s export industry. As the factories there multiplied, the air pollution returned to Hong Kong.

    I found it impossibly hard to believe that it's cheaper to move your entire operation than install scrubbers -- failing that, surely a bribe is cheaper. So I dug around and as recent as 2006 [pittsburghlive.com] the cost seems to be very high (anyone know today's rates?):

    The average cost for scrubbers today (2006) is roughly $300 per kilowatt. For a 1,000-megawatt power plant, a relatively common size for coal-fired facilities, the cost for scrubbers for all boilers would be approximately $300 million.

    I guess that would be a death knell for a Chinese company (and, let's face it, much of Asia is guilty of over polluting). If China introduces "regulation" that would stunt their free market, the free market simply circumvents it one way or another [slashdot.org]. It's the story time and time again in China and I think that a large part of their government is complacent with it because their economy is comparatively gangbusters.

    And when a country trades with China, they're just exporting their pollution. I mean, we're all on the same planet ... it's going to cost everyone eventually. But oooh, that free market fueled cheap shit at Wal-Mart is just so tantalizing! How can you not buy it? Everybody wins (except the environment)!

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:23AM (#36659434) Homepage

      This is why many American companies outsource manufacturing to china. lax regulations, and those regulations are ignored. It's far cheaper to make your phone in a location where waste can be dumped into the stream behind the building or just thrown into the trash stream and bury those heavy metals in the landfill.

      But as long as we ignore that and enjoy low priced products it will all be ok.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:44AM (#36659586)

        This is why many American companies outsource manufacturing to china. lax regulations, and those regulations are ignored. It's far cheaper to make your phone in a location where waste can be dumped into the stream behind the building or just thrown into the trash stream and bury those heavy metals in the landfill.

        But as long as we ignore that and enjoy low priced products it will all be ok.

        Environmental regulations hurt jobs and business! And because of them, business has to outsource overseas because they won't be able to compete! And then there are the taxes .... American business has to go overseas for the cheap labor and the lower taxes in order to compete with the rest of the World.

        Translation:

        We want to lower our costs to the bare minimum so the CEO and other executives can get filthy rich off of the backs of the workers and shareholders all the while poisoning the people and land of foreign nations because their leaders want to enrich themselves - (fascist) capitalism working with despots.

        In the meantime, the super rich propaganda machine has brain washed us peons into thinking that if we work hard and get educated, we too can one day join their ranks - it's a given! As long as we can keep those pesky environmental regulations and taxes low for the very wealthy ($10 million+ assets) out of the way.

        In the meantime, the entire World spirals down economically and ecologically and the super rich hang out on their yachts and private jets.

        Want to know who to go after? Get the Gulfstream, Bombardier, Cessna (Citation Jets), and the other "corporate jet" makers client lists and then get the individuals behind those corporations.

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:49AM (#36659634) Journal

          Environmental regulations hurt jobs and business

          Local environmental regulations do. I'd love to see the US and EU impose large import duties on anything that was produced in a factory that had not been inspected for conformance to the environmental laws at the point of sale.

          • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:11AM (#36659860) Homepage

            Yeah, the inspectors hired by the US and EU need to get in on that bribery action too!

            In all seriousness, the 2 main reasons the US and EU don't do this are (A) most of their politicians are probably on the take from the same businesses, and (B) the WTO and other international trade organizations would ensure retaliation by imposing massive duties on exports.

          • by scamper_22 (1073470) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @10:07AM (#36660536)

            There are times I think the old America which was more focused on classical liberalism would actually have more 'social justice' than the current one.

            Just think about 'free-trade' in a classical liberal sense.

            Minimum wage laws - how can the government apply different laws to different people. Why should the government restrict the right of an American to compete against his Asian competitor. Why should the American have to obey a $10/hour minimum wage, but his Asian counterpart does not?

            Solution - either stop free trade or mandate that every country exporting goods to the US must obey the American minimum wage.

            This kind of thinking is actually what America used internally when different states wanted different minimum wages. I mean how could New York impose a minimum wage, but Alabama doesn't. Obviously, jobs would flow to Alabama. So the US federal government created the federal minimum wage for goods destined for inter-state commerce. If you were just a local pizza shop in Alabama, not involved in interstate commerce, you didn't have to obey the federal minimum wage.

            It made a lot of sense. So why wasn't this same great logic used when we started international trade deals? My own view... this occurred when the government stopped trying to be just the law. When the government began looking at outcomes and goals. So it made sense to expand trade deals... I mean Americans are too good to work in textiles... those are not jobs Americans should be doing right?

            The same kind of logic and and should be done for environmental laws.

            I say all this from a libertarian mind set.
            Having different laws for different people is a far greater violation of individual rights than restricting free trade.

            • by TheSync (5291)

              Why should the American have to obey a $10/hour minimum wage, but his Asian counterpart does not?

              Imagine if we had no minimum wage and free immigration. Chinese could move to the US, work for $1/hour, experience political and personal freedom, but still be under our environmental regulations for real pollution externalities.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Many countries don't have minimum wages... e.g. Denmark. Would they be banned from U.S. exports, too? I sincerely doubt anyone in DK is paid less than the U.S. minimum wage, unless working for free for whatever reason.

              Personally, I dislike minimum wage. It just causes bureaucracy. The de facto minimum wage would be whatever welfare check is in place for the unemployed, or failing that, what you earn as a simple thief, which society would have to pay /anyway/.

        • by tmosley (996283) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:38AM (#36660148)
          You know, it's funny. 40 years ago, prior to all this regulation, the average CEO made about ten times as much as the average worker in his company. Today, post regulation, the average CEO makes some 40+ times as much (it's rising so fast I can't keep up) as the average worker. This is American companies with American workers.

          In other words, your post ignores not only cause and effect, but correlation as well. Total ignorance of reality. The fact is that the more regulations imposed by the government, the rich CEOs get, because the corporations own the government, and use those regulations to squelch competition. This drives new industry abroad.

          But it's not the corporations who are to blame. Hate the game, not the player. More specifically, hate the system, and those who created it, and made the rules. This means Republicans and Democrats.

          You want to fix this? Get rid of these two parties, and bring in a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, etc. Don't settle for the choice between a turd burger and a shit sandwich.
        • by mevets (322601)

          | Environmental regulations hurt jobs and business! | ...

          Not just that! Environmental regulations cause global warming!
          I wish we could just go back to using Ohio as the great toxic waste dump.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642)

      I found it impossibly hard to believe that it's cheaper to move your entire operation than install scrubbers

      The point is, you can ignore a whole heck of a lot more regulations than just the scrubber requirements.

      Fly ash can be dumped onto the lawn until it blows away or is washed away. No need to capture and recycle mercury, or anything else, unless you'll make a profit off it. No need for those pesky worker safety regulations. Boiler inspections, what are they? Have a barrel of used lubricating oil, and coincidentally a barrel sized hole in the ground?

    • Scrubbers have been required in America since the 1977 revisions to the Clean Air Act. And they're still not

      ...up to spec. I personally know someone who used to be employed to climb stacks and drop probes in them. We can find plants of all kinds emitting excessive pollutants (as in, over the legal limits) as fast as we can pay people to climb them.

    • by jlehtira (655619) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:04AM (#36659758) Journal

      'Reductions in carbon emissions will be more important as China installs scrubbers [on its coal-fired power stations], which reduce sulphur emissions,'

      So basically never?

      Well, the matter will become important with time. It goes like this: atmospheric lifetime for CO2 is estimated to be thousands of years, while numbers elsewhere on the web say this time is a few days for sulfur dioxide. That means that if, before humans, a volcano erupted releasing both CO2 and SO2, the SO2 levels would return to normal within days to weeks afterwards, but CO2 levels would remain elevated for thousands of years.

      So, if one starts a new coal plant without scrubbers and thus introduces a steady flux of CO2 and SO2, the resulting increase in the SO2 level will stabilize within weeks, but CO2 level in the atmosphere will continue rising for as long as the plant operates. Thus, starting a new plant actually cools the climate at first, but eventually the CO2 emissions catch up and flip the balance. No scrubbers needed, although they can get rid of the cooling effect (and acid rain).

      This sounds like a very plausible reason (amongst other things) why the last 10 years didn't see a strong trend of temperature increase.

      • by bytesex (112972)

        ...atmospheric lifetime for CO2 is estimated to be thousands of years...

        Really ? With all those trees ?

        • Trees emit CO2 at night during respiration processes.

          They are not self-replicating CO2 sponges.

          More importantly, land-clearing means there are less and less of them. While most of our oxygen comes from sea plankton, there's no convincing argument that on the whole we're increasing the biospheres CO2 adsorption capacity.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dkf (304284)

          ...atmospheric lifetime for CO2 is estimated to be thousands of years...

          Really ? With all those trees ?

          Really. The issue is that plants tend overall to release carbon dioxide at about the rate that they take it out of the air; it might be locked up for a while in their tissues, but it gets released again at death. What you need is to prevent decomposition of dead plants, either through burial somehow in an anoxic environment (e.g., swamp) or by converting the wood to something more stable (e.g., biochar), but both of those aren't actually that common as processes go worldwide.

          The process that really seems to

        • Even trees get full.
    • One of the major costs of installing scrubbers is building a whopping great big ash dam and moving a lot of water around. You need that to an extent with only small units so the cost per MW is going to be very high compared with a larger plant. It's nothing like a linear cost and playing with numbers as if it is will dump you deep into the land of ridiculous bullshit at either extreme.
      Also there's a lot less sulphur in Chinese coal than some of the unfortunate stuff the USA is stuck with, but they are bur
  • by symes (835608) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:21AM (#36659424) Journal

    Doesn't this give us a steer towards a short-term fix? Not my area, but if the doomsayers are right, and evidence suggests they may well be, then we could offset warming with some floating mirrors or something. Or get kids around the world to fly tinfoil kites. Or just pump some more dust up there. I realise this is not the solution but it is a genuine question.

    • by tmosley (996283)
      So you're saying if we had more conspiracy theorists, we could fight global warming?

      Tinfoil hats for everyone!
    • we could offset warming with some floating mirrors or something. Or get kids around the world to fly tinfoil kites. Or just pump some more dust up there. I realise this is not the solution but it is a genuine question.

      We could also study the causes of warming and stop the antropogenic ones.

    • Doesn't this give us a steer towards a short-term fix? ... we could offset warming with some floating mirrors [or] tinfoil kites [or] pump some more dust up there.

      The problem with these geoengineering approaches is that a ton of CO2 added to the atmosphere will continue to warm the planet for thousands [doi.org], of [doi.org] years [doi.org]. On the other hand, these solutions are temporary, e.g., aerosols are washed out of the atmosphere within a few months or years.

      You didn't suggest this, but if we continue emitting CO2 and try to mask the effect with aerosols, we will need to add more and more aerosols every year, until it becomes economically unfeasible and environmentally devastating. Yo

    • by andy1307 (656570)
      Not that far fetched.

      http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2009/10/video_nathan_myhrvold_explains_how_to_save_the_world.html [techflash.com]

      Stratoshield: Nathan Myhrvold explains how to save the planet
      But it turns out that's far from the only idea Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures has dreamed up to save the planet from calamity. Here's another one: Combat climate change by pumping liquid sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere through nozzles in a hose lifted more than 15 miles into the atmosphere using helium-filled balloons.

  • Complex Model (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gideon Wells (1412675) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:34AM (#36659516)

    This is going to be taken by both supporters and detractors of Climate Change: Warming Trend as evidence for their cause. Let me go get the popcorn.

    Nothing productive will come of this so I might as well sit back and enjoy the fireworks. Nevermind we are trying to figure out a complex model as it changes under conditions that about as far from scientifically controlled as possible. My only hope is we don't accidentally cause an Ice Age trying to fix this.

    • I don't think we'll *cause* an ice age(though one is likely fairly soon, looking at the solar cycles...), but we could cirtainly distroy our economy through crap like the "carbon tax".

      • by dkf (304284)

        I don't think we'll *cause* an ice age(though one is likely fairly soon, looking at the solar cycles...),

        Hard to say for sure; we (as a species) have dumped a lot of extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the last ice age through burning coal, oil and gas, and also probably through changing land use to support agriculture too, and nobody really knows for sure what effect that will have. From a purely scientific perspective, come back in 30,000 years and we'll have a much better idea, but that's not so useful for public policy today...

        but we could cirtainly distroy our economy through crap like the "carbon tax".

        Don't worry, we'll destroy it first through bailing out bankers inste

      • Re:Complex Model (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mmcuh (1088773) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:45AM (#36660236)
        Like the 37 Annex I countries of the Kyoto protocol have distroyed their economies?
        • by dbIII (701233)
          Definitely the USA has done a very good job at trying to destroy it's ... wait! It's not on the list!
    • Re:Complex Model (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:54AM (#36659678) Journal
      I'm all for them continually trying to figure it out. You're absolutely right it's incredibly complex, and I postulate we may never fully comprehend it or be able to simulate or predict it to any level of accuracy. That said, It would be nice if (while figuring it out) the grand claims weren't made. We have a very small history of good temperature data, a very questionable network of sensors for collecting a certain quantity of temperature readings, and very little data (comparatively) on the suns impact. I love science and scientists, but they need to continue to be skeptics. If the system is too big to actually figure out, they should be able to always admit that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by delinear (991444)
        Indeed - the problem in all of this is not that scientists are arguing about the facts, it's that the media and politicians feel they should get involved at all. All they do is muddy the waters, they've turned skepticism from a healthy scientific steer into some kind of insult, meanwhile everyone is on some kind of crusade to save the planet without wondering a) if their actions are having any effect or b) whether that's just another form of interfering with nature's cycles. I'd love to know the answers but
        • Re:Complex Model (Score:5, Informative)

          by qmaqdk (522323) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @10:20AM (#36660716)

          That's because the scientists are done arguing. And it doesn't help when people keep repeating points that have been rejected (or as close as science will ever get to rejecting something):

          * It's happening. [nasa.gov]
          * We're at fault. [nasa.gov]

          (Most climate scientists agree that) it's not part of a natural cycle. That's as close to resolved as it's going to be.

          • by blindseer (891256)

            I say this to all people that claim human activity is causing global warming. There are three things that have to be shown for me to care.

            - First, that the Earth is actually warming.
            - Second, that human activity is the cause.
            - Third, that this is actually a bad thing.

            There seems to still be debate on if the warming has stopped. Solar activity is hitting a new low which could negate, or even reverse any greenhouse effect.

            One thing that seems clear to me is that the increased CO2 in the atmosphere is that i

            • There seems to still be debate on if the warming has stopped. Solar activity is hitting a new low which could negate, or even reverse any greenhouse effect.

              Solar activity is on the rise again. True the period of low activity is longer than predicted, but consider that global averages are rising all through the period of low activity.

              One thing that seems clear to me is that the increased CO2 in the atmosphere is that it improves plant life. Plants are growing bigger, stronger, and faster in this atmosphere. That not only means more food for people but other nice side effects like reduced erosion and an improved capacity to soak up even more CO2.

              From where I sit, it's clear to me the forests to soak in all that CO2 are being cut down at an ever-increasing rate, increasing erosion and risk of landslides. Efforts to re-forest (assuming it's not being cleared to make way for development and farmland) favour monocultures of fast-growing species of trees.

              I will admit that some people will get the short end of the stick. Some places in this world will become unpleasantly warm. Some places will go under water. The end result though is cheaper and more plentiful food for everyone. There would also likely be more freshwater and livable land mass.

              Those who don't die off

          • by jafac (1449)

            Yes; it's happening. Yes, we're at fault.

            Is there anything we can even DO about it?

            I have read some scenarios that seem to point to the idea that even if all human life were wiped out in the blink of an eye, and all petroleum+coal extraction and combustion were halted, it would have little impact on climate change in the next 100 years: that some of the tipping-points on trapped-methane release (seafloor calthyrates and siberian permafrost) have already been passed.

            (never mind that if our nuclear power inf

      • by jlehtira (655619) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:41AM (#36660190) Journal

        Grand claims are needed (if you're referring to the claim "anthropogenic air pollution very probably results in significant warming of Earth's climate", which is pretty much the biggest claim scientists made). There's a reason to think that way, and that reason has been questioned by tens of thousands of capable minds over the course of decades. Intelligent humans would listen to the warning, and act even when the above is not completely certain. Nothing can ever be completely certain, but scientific results will always be the closest thing.

        By the way, we *are* able to predict the weather to a known level of accuracy, which is also rather high for short-term forecasts. Climate simulation is the same thing but much simpler (because we don't care about where and when it will be what temperature, only the average), but of course more difficult because of other reasons. That said, there are many uncertainties, some so uncertain that no value is given, but their range *is* known. The possible ranges can be read in the IPCC documents from 2007. This-and-that effect cannot be bigger than some limit, and these values are quite trustworthy, because if some effect was HUGE, then it would necessarily also be evident. The sun's impact is actually pretty well known - the changes in power output have been much too small to account for detected changes.

        The temperature measurement network isn't grand, but it's also not giving out random numbers. We know that. The numbers don't look random. The signal-to-noise ratio is big enough that we can use those numbers, and other effects are accounted for (right, some thermometers are next to asphalt, but guess what - asphalt warms up the ground, there's now more asphalt than 50 years ago, thus asphalt indeed contributes to global warming (I suppose these effects go under the label of "land use" in IPCC documents if you want to look it up)).

        Scientists are sceptics and continue to be that. But this means more than just questioning findings. Turns out the scientists have long ago researched the problem of how good their results are, and the 2007 report was groundbreaking indeed because then, for the first time ever, scientists concluded their results are "very probably correct". And mind you, their result was that the humans cause warming in the range of 0.6 - 2.4 watts per square meter. Of course there's always a tradeoff between dependability and accuracy of some result, now the numbers add up such that scientists can very confidently say something that's very approximate, but still useful.

        By the way, the biggest uncertainty in climate forecasts is the amount of pollution humans spew out in the future. How would they know that? They wouldn't. We might be able to cut pollution by 50% in 20 years, or we might quadruple it in the same time frame. No way to know.

        • by delt0r (999393)

          Climate simulation is the same thing but much simpler..

          I don't know why /. has this piece of truthieness. But its wrong. Climate vers weather modeling is *different*, not easier. For example both fields use ensembles of simulations. In fact for climate models simplified weather models are used for *tractability* reasons. It is a big complex set of PDE with many many variables, to claim that it is easier that weather prediction is to be quite clueless about the models. Both fields/models overlap quite a bit.

      • Re:Complex Model (Score:5, Insightful)

        by superposed (308216) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:45AM (#36660238)
        Yes it's a complex system, but that doesn't mean we have to understand every last detail before we take action. We've known for over a hundred years that CO2 is transparent to visible light and absorbs infrared. Therefore, adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause warming (allowing sunlight in, but reducing the amount of heat radiated back to space). The only scientific question left is how much warming, where and when. The most natural (and safest) assumption is that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will change climate. "We should wait until we perfectly understand this insanely complex system" is not a rational response.

        People can differ over whether they think climate change will be a bad thing, or whether they should have to pay to prevent bad things from happening to other people or the natural environment, but there is no question we are causing climate change. People who argue otherwise are blinding themselves for their own convenience.
    • by vlm (69642)

      My only hope is we don't accidentally cause an Ice Age trying to fix this.

      Why? The most important question about "climate change" is the one never asked. The "debate" is exclusively non-scientific in application and is solely used as rationalization for either full on central govt control, or rationalization for full on libertarianism. One thing carefully kept quiet and out of the debate, is that regardless of which method the hairless apes select to justify controlling each other, every 75Kyears, where I'm sitting right now will be covered with two miles of ice alternating wi

      • and me with out mod points to mod you up! GREAT POINT and one missed by many
      • 75,000 years is a time longer then any advanced human civilization has ever existed on this planet. Even assuming continuous human civilization over this period, this is a timeframe representing very gradual change - longer then lifetimes, long enough to allow for population migration in a natural way.

        Contrast to the current predictions: within a 100 years we could be looking at ecosystem collapses in the ocean, radical changes in farmland viability and seasonal flooding patterns. People alive today will st

      • ..regardless of which method the hairless apes select to justify controlling each other, every 75Kyears, where I'm sitting right now will be covered with two miles of ice alternating with a nice limestone producing inland sea.

        WOAH! Which religion did that just come from?

        Right, it has been covered by ice periodically in recent times. But only in recent millennia when there hasn't been much CO2 in the atmosphere. There have been very long periods without significant glaciation on Earth. CO2 levels are already much higher than ever before during recent glaciation events, and we might very well be in for another 250 million years without ice.

        That's the key, see. Our emissions have already pushed the climate system of Earth beyond t

  • by SniperJoe (1984152) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:42AM (#36659574)
    Didn't China sign on to the Kyoto Protocol? Of course China is categorized as a "developing nation" which means that they aren't subject to as stringent a reduction in emissions as an "industrialized" nation such as the US would be.
    • by tbannist (230135)

      I don't think they signed on to Kyoto instead they have "voluntarily" adopted "intensity targets". Which, in effect, means they need to reduce the rate at which they produce pollution per some amount of economic activity rather than having to reduce the total pollution generated. As long as their economy grows quickly it won't reduce overall emissions, but will reduce the rate at which emissions grow.

    • Re:Kyoto Accords (Score:4, Informative)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:59AM (#36659714)
      As a 'non annex 1' country, China is not required to reduce anything. Which is why they readily came on board with it.
  • Good thing then that sulphur scrubbers had already been installed on Nabro [wikipedia.org], Grímsvötn [wikipedia.org], Puyehue [wikipedia.org], etc. etc. Wouldn't want them to interfere [wikipedia.org] (see last sentence of the paragraph) with global warming.
    • Given that most everyone would seem to agree that large volcanic eruptions have a temporary cooling effect ... I'm not quite sure what you're trying to prove.
      • I'm not quite sure what you're trying to prove.

        Who says I need, or want, to prove anything at all? :-)

        But yeah, both the scale of volcanic sulphur output as well as the short-livedness thereof, seems to diminish the usefulness of scrubbers.

        I, for one, am a bit more worried about the cooling effect of the volcanic ash that was released, which might affect weather for a couple of years, if history is anything to go by.

  • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @08:53AM (#36659666) Journal

    Perhaps the supposed rise in temperature in recent decades isn't due to CO2 emission; perhaps our nasty coal plants in the west prior to that were holding off an increase by putting aerosols in the air, and cleaning them up unmasked that effect.

    If coal plants really have this sort of major effect, and they aren't accounted for in the much-vaunted climate models, the models are pretty much junk. If they are accounted for, why is this news?

    • by superposed (308216) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:14AM (#36659896)

      If they are accounted for, why is this news?

      Well, actually climate models do account for aerosols [sciencedaily.com] and this isn't news [climatescience.gov].

    • The effect of sulfur aerosols has been known for ages and is pretty well accounted for. The only interesting thing is that given China's massive growth of late, sulfur and particulate emissions have risen so fast that they may temporarily mask some of the effects of the as massive increase in CO2 caused by the same factors. In the long term, it doesn't matter, since atmospheric retention time of CO2 is orders of magnitude above that of SO2, therefor it will dominate the equation in the end.
  • Complete rubbish (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure how Mann and Co. can keep a straight face whilst publishing rubbish like this. They've basically tweaked an existing computer model - one that did not in any way conform to actual reality - and added further fudge factors to make things balance out and *shock* it does! That is to say, rather than admitting the CO2 hypothesis is wrong and that changes in solar activity and the oceans are more convincing explanations, they prefer to fiddle around with what is an over-parametrised model.

    The enti

  • by oneandoneis2 (777721) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:07AM (#36659796) Homepage

    ..America's industrial pollution, being the product of democracy, leads to a surfeit of hot air, which will cause the climate to change.

    Chinese pollution, made by communists, cancels out the democratic American pollution and so overall nothing happens either way.

    'zat it?

  • Falsifiability (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geoffrobinson (109879)

    Let's overlook the fact that we have a big fat admission that temperatures haven't been going up for about a decade and how no one wanted to readily admit that to the public...

    Global warming theory, as presently constructed, can't be falsified. "The theory's valid! It's the sulfur, the ocean cycles, the -fill in reasons for lack of warming-."

    How can we even disprove this current assertion? They have no idea.

    At the very least, this gives credence to the Freakanomics folks. Instead of wrecking the world's eco

  • Sounds familiar. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jasenj1 (575309) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @09:49AM (#36660288)

    Revelation 16:8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

    Reading all the ways scientists anticipate we are screwing up the planet sounds like a refresher on Revelation.

    - Jasen.

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @10:17AM (#36660674)

    I love how the global climate change believers are so quick to blame the U.S. on the grounds that the U.S. uses roughly 25% of the world's energy. Correlation does not equal causation. But if it did, why isn't the causation China's industrialization which exactly tracks the hockey-stick graph? It's not like they're going whole-hog on "green" energy.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @12:24PM (#36662296) Journal
    China has shown that they will cheat at everything. They are required to have scrubbers per treaties with Japan. The thing is, that ALL OF THEIR 10 year old or less plants have scrubbers on them. They are simply not turned on. WHy? Because they costs MONEY. The fact is, that China cheats on just about everything. So, how does this impact Kyoto? It shows that other nations that are way behind will realize that all they have to do is cheat to get ahead. If kyoto were to happen, many nations will follow CHina's path. As it is, many are cheating by manipulating their money. Now, if other nations think that they can grab large amounts of manufacturing from America, just by adding loads of 'cheap' energy, they will do so. The fact is, that Kyoto was one of the worst ideas going, and remains so.

    If we want to solve this issue, then America should tax ALL GOODS including imports based on where final and primary sub-component come from and their CO2 Emissions. The CO2 emissions should be monitored by sat and should watch how much Co2 flows in and out. Then apply it at a rate of PER SQ KM, rather than per capita (fairer and takes into account everything).

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