Tag Archives: CO2 emissions

Obama Can Innovate

The fawning over Obama has not yet ceased in the mainstream media.

BBC headlines a story this morning with the appallingly thoughtless “Obama to curb vehicle emissions“.

First off, grammar police here to say: didn’t your mother tell you that every word in a headline or title is capitalized?

Now, to address the fallacy here: The President is not tasked with invention, nor with development. His expect forte is not to spearhead industrial progress, nor is his path laid alongside that of Carver, Watt, or Fermi.

The purpose of the President is to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. And nowhere within that auspicious document, envied and imitated by many and equaled by none yet, does it state the role of the Government of the United States or the President thereof have either the responsibility, prerogative, or power to direct industrial invention.

The Times of London leads with the much less misleading but no less grammatically faulty¬† “Obama to introduce emissions curbs on gas guzzlers“.

It is true I parts of me would prefer the no less true but much more provocative headline “Obama Corks US Industry, Innovation”.

The BBC article begins by quoting the talking points of the White House Press Release:

The plan will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil by 2016 and be the equivalent of taking 177 million cars off the road, White House officials said.

Words sure to bring warm fuzzies to everybody with fuzz between their ears, for sure.

I’m completely for innovation making things more efficient and development making things more clean.

I’m all for using the incredible wealth and depth of technology to preserve the environment. I love clean air, camping, tree climbing, fishing, and all the good things tha come with living in a clean place.

But arbitrary requirements which have only shown in history to destroy and hobble and prevent and impoverish have no place here.

A dirty little secret about gas mileage and lower emissions is that, with current technology, there is a bit of a trade off.

My current car qualifies in the state of California as PZEV: Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. It is a small SUV, crossover-type from Mitsubishi. It is in the same emissions category as the Hybrid Toyota Camry. But it would fail Obama’s new “standards”. I only get 20-25MPG. Good for this car, but much less than the 35MPG proscribed by our Inventor In Chief.

One thing consistently noted in the reviews of this vehicle was that Mitsubishi decided to go with lower fuel economy to achieve the lower emissions.

On it’s face this trade-off doesn’t make much sense: burning less gas should mean less emissions, right?

But when you take into account all the various factors that affect emissions, compression in the engine, efficiency of the catalytic converter, richness of gas mixture, you will find that the cleanest burning calibration of the various elements is not the most energy efficient.

And, according to the Times of London article, these regulations and constraints will cost us more:

New vehicles at present average 25mpg, with most cars required to reach 27.5mpg and light trucks 23.1mpg. New Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules passed by Congress are already expected to add an extra $700 to the price of a new vehicle, and today’s announcement will add about another $600.

So in this economically difficult time the Savior of the Earth is costing each family who needs a car an extra 5-10% of the normal cost. So those claims about how these changes will make it as though there are 177 million cars aren’t lying, except for the “as though” bit.

It won’t be an “as though”, it will be fewer cars. It will be reality.

Global Warming: How should we approach the subject?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but recently I’ve been writing a fair amount about a variety of issues. So hopefully these next several posts are thought provoking. I would greatly appreciate any feedback or thoughts you may have about the arguments and/or writing style of my posts. That being said, here are my thoughts on global warming:

I see four issues that need to be addressed before we can adequately approach the problem:

1. The first point we must establish is: Is the Earth really warming at a significant pace? I’m skeptical but open to convincing that this is the case.

2. The second point: Is this warming caused by humans or is it natural? I know less about this point, but there are many intelligent people who think this is a natural phenomena — a cycle the earth goes through.

3. The third point: Are the effects of global warming harmful? Now I want to clarify here. I’m referring to the temperature increase alone. Obviously smog, carbon monoxide, wanton destruction of forests, etc. are bad. But is the temperature of the earth rising a bad thing? I’m not sure, no one really knows. Maybe it will be a good thing. Growing seasons might be longer, and right now many more people die of cold every year than of heat. Again, just some thoughts, I don’t think a compelling case has been made for either side.

4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is it worth spending trillions of dollars to try and fix? People talk about market solutions like a carbon tax and so forth. Those are NOT market solutions. They are government solutions that allow for better individualized actions that are like a market. But how does a government know what the right level to set the tax at is? Who is deciding the carbon tax but politicians who are more beholden to special interests than voters. Furthermore, carbon taxes will create huge inefficiencies in the market. It will make everything that needs energy to be produced (which, by the way, is everything) more expensive. I think one commentator put it well when he said we are sacrificing the poor of the world on the altar of radical environmentalism. Sure we are wealthy here in the US and can afford some of these inefficient policies. But as we have seen with ethanol subsidies, our domestic policies affect the rest of the world, especially poorer countries.

Our best approach to solving this problem is to better define property rights and environmental regulations at a local, rather than national or global level. Cities and states should work to clean up rivers and emissions, based on clear demonstration of harm caused by the pollution to individuals, not some abstract and highly questionable global warming effects. As human beings one thing is certain, that no matter what happens, we will learn to adapt and improve our environment, whatever it is. Wealth is a key tool by which we will be able to face rising global temperatures, hurricanes, tornadoes, war, famine, etc.