Smoke and C02: how to spin global warming [video]

Thu, 2008-10-02 13:50Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Smoke and C02: how to spin global warming [video]

This new American News Project video nails the history of spin on global warming and tobacco:

Previous Comments

Energy companies battle AGW. Tobacco companies battled product demonization (they lost and yet somehow cigs are still in every cornier store)

compare smoking to CO2 emission.

Smoking is bad for you - everybody knows that and yet… worldwide more people smoke than ever. Tobacco companies are just moving more product to the poorer countries now, while plenty of people continue to smoke in rich countries.

Eliminating or even slowing tobacco is in practice impossible - even though it would have a big upside and the only downside is the temporary discomfort of the addicts.

If eliminating tobacco is fantasy, then killing fossil fuel is insanity. The world runs on fossil fuel and you just can’t change gears easily or quickly.

To drastically reduce fossil fuel would mean death and poverty for millions - huge down side - and whats the payoff? - uncertain climate mitigation.

fossil fuel is not just another pack of cigs. Fossil fuel is life.

Yet Big Tobacco companies are still reporting record profits - because they are moving into other countries where there are many more people and a lack of regulations, awareness or infrastructure to deal with them.

I have news for you Rick; Tobacco companies don’t care about death or poverty for millions and neither does Exxon - the only thing on their minds is profit.

try again sport - you have no news for me

- corporations are about profit - so what.

fossil fuels are still the line between a semblance of civilization and massive death and destruction.

choose life! hows that for corn?

peak oil is upon us; according to Professor David Rutledge peak coal will follow in about 2025 CE.

Then what, hmmm?

How about putting sustainable alternatives in place before then.

sure - you have to try - I like the idea of throwing some weight behind solar and wave energy. It just bugs me when we compare tobacco to the energy that has made us rich as humans. Tobacco is really the opposite of fossil fuel.

…and hey - what happened to our 300 years worth of coal?

is on TheOilDrum. Easy to find.

He writes that claims of coal reserves are vastly overstated.

Rick writes - corporations are about profit - so what.

Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna! Greed is Good! Greed is Good! The free market will rescue all of us from all of our ills. The free market is our salvation. Greed is good! Praise be to Gordon Gecko! Hare Krishna!

Free market cult worshipers ascribe much importance to the speech in Oliver Stone’s movie “Wall Street” in which Gordon Gecko claims that “Greed is good, greed purifies…”. I find this quite amusing, since they usually ignore the ending of the movie, in which that greed brings ruin and destruction.

With banks falling faster than trees in the Amazon, we seem to be witnessing the effects of two decades of economic policies that valued greed over the common good. We borrowed against a future utopia that we were sure was just around the corner, a utopia brought on by low taxes and a free market unleashed. Now we are realizing that the word “utopia” in fact means “no place”. The loans are coming due, and it is becoming clear that the so-called economic boom of recent years was a mirage brought on by borrowed money swishing around the economy.

Rick writes - fossil fuels are still the line between a semblance of civilization and massive death and destruction.

Perhaps you can explain to me how Japan manages to be a modern economy while producing a tiny fraction of the carbon dioxide that we do in North America. Or how Europe has already implemented many of the carbon dioxide reduction strategies that are proposed for North America, without your promised economic armagedon.

I’m surprised Japan has a low per capita CO2 output.

I mean they import energy and material and build stuff with it. They do a great job for a place without much for natural resources. Aren’t they something like 3rd for oil imports? I’m thinking they must put out a decent amount of CO2.

Hey Japan puts out twice as much as evil Canada in total CO2. They have the larger population but my goodness, we have the tar sands. We have the huge expanse of territory. We have evil Steve…. and we still can’t keep up.

Catch22 you name is quite correct. You dislike corporations making a profit in a free enertprice market system, but losing that would mean losing all our social programs including unversal healthcare, education, welfare, etc. Profits generate wealth, wealth pays taxes. We need corporations to make more profit so they can hire more good paying jobs, and pay their taxes. Oh, and your RRSP/Pension fund requres corporations to make a profit.

But I guess you would prefer to live like we did in the Dark Ages.

Oh, and Europe is falling apart big time. Officially in a recession.

Joshua Chaffin, Financial Times, 6 October 2008
The slowing economy and financial crisis are testing Europe’s goal of becoming a world leader in greenhouse gas reduction.

Industry has seized on the slowdown to lobby for delayed or watered down regulations, arguing that directives set out by the European Commission earlier this year would force them to cut jobs or relocate factories outside the European Union.

Some politicians also acknowledge that the financial crisis could hinder efforts to forge international agreements on reducing emissions.

Roger Boyes, The Times, 6 October 2008

So you’re saying that, similarly to how we can’t get rid of tobacco, we’re never going to be able to get rid of fossil fuels. But the aspect of the comparison you’re missing is that, while only nicotine can relieve your nicotine cravings, fossil fuels are completely replaceable with other sources of energy.

And it’s not even going to hurt the economy to do it! Europe has already managed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels and their economy is doing just as well, if not better, than ours.

“fossil fuels are completely replaceable with other sources of energy.”

That is absolutely false. It is clear you do not know how deep and dependant we are on oil to sustain our modern society. It’s all about Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI). No other source of energy has the same energy density as oil. In the good old days we consumed 1 unit of energy to get 100 units of energy in oil. Today it’s about 25. Alternatives are LUCKY to get 2:1, some, like ethanol, are negative. Others, like hydrogen, are gross net losses of energy (70-85% loss).

Here is an interesting tidbit. One barrel of oil is the same as 7 YEARS of human labour. Thus at 100:1, one day of human labour would give us 100 days of oil energy. But with alternatives, 1 day of human labour only returns just over a day of energy.

It’s not how much energy we get out of a fuel, it’s how much energy it takes to get that energy out of the fuel. That’s everything. Simple example. Hunter-gatherers have no free time, they spend all their time getting food. Thus their EROEI is 1:1. But the invension of farming showed that we can get more energy returned on energy invested. Enough that only a few people were needed to farm so the rest of humanity was freed up to advance civilization. Thus, EROEI is EVERYTHING. And alternatives are closer to the hunter-gatherer EROEI than farmers.

Plus, there is far more in oil than liquid transport fuels. There is no replacement for many oil products at the volume we need as a modern society. Plastics is a clear example. It’s a requirement to protect our food, yet cannot be made from any other source in the volume we need.

You can’t fly planes on electricity.

You really need to see this series to understand how important oil is, and how important EROEI is.

Secondly, our population is entrely supported by oil. Without oil we simply cannot feed 6.5 Billion people. Again, it’s all EROEI.

Must be a slow news day if the tired old shibboleth equating inaction on AGW with tobacco.

Here’s the point. AGW activists have, in spite of huge sums of money spent, failed to persuade the Canadian public that drastic action is required on C02.

Having failed, AGW alarmists are incapable of introspection so must invent a bogeyman: tobacco and yes, the trail of pennies from Exxon.

It’s same “Science for hire” approach used by the tobacco companies, and the oil companies are hiring the same organizations that the tobacco companies did to produce it. Yup, definitely no connection here. This point is, of course, outlined in the video, should you care to watch it.

Oh, and it’s CO2, not C-zero-2.

“Oh, and it’s CO2, not C-zero-2.” - DOGOMATIC

Who gives a rat’s arse? This is the internet, not an English course.

Warmers have failed to democratically persuade the electorate that their dire warnings should be heeded.

Warmers far, far outspend any anti-AGW groups. You can’t seriously pretend it is because of the tiny sums of money spent by anti-AGW proponents, can you?

Warmers have spent $50B+ in the past 20 years, and many more BILLIONS are coming.

they don’t call him dogomatic for nothin

Science is always for hire. Everybody gets paid and everybody has some kind of bias. Don’t be a denier over it.

Paul S. writes: Here’s the point. AGW activists have, in spite of huge sums of money spent, failed to persuade the Canadian public that drastic action is required on C02. Having failed, AGW alarmists are incapable of introspection so must invent a bogeyman: tobacco and yes, the trail of pennies from Exxon.

Now I know what Orwell’s 1984 looks like. The above post typifies the “War Against Facts” that certain right wing organizations wage. Their goal is to balance every inconvenient factual assertion with a counterwieght “fact” that is more conducive to their agenda. In the absence of clear facts, the public retreats to an implicit assumption that there is no such thing as fact, only opinion.

How’s this for an opinion: I believe that these intellectual saboteurs are helping to destroy the values that we have inherited from the rennaisance. Before the rennaisance, the church was the ultimate source of truth. The church did not need to provide evidence for its assertions. It was enough that the church had political and military power. During the rennaisance, it became a more widespread view that assertions needed to be backed up by EVIDENCE. The church lost power because its assertions could not be backed up by logical argument and facts.

As the public slowly loses sight of actual facts, they will increasingly look to authority figures to form their views. They will look for facts from sources they trust and identify with. But trust is largely an emotional phenomenon, and is thus easily manipulated, especially when the public is afraid.

I’m sure that the right wing GW deniers will accuse me of the same thing that I am accusing them of. But there is a key difference between those who actually understand the science and those whose main purpose is the obfuscate the science: Those who know the science have EVIDENCE to back up their assertions, while those who obfuscate have only half-facts and flawed arguments.

I seriously doubt the parent poster has any real understanding of the arguments he is trying to refute. I challenge him to prove me wrong, by describing why the typical characterization of greenhouse gasses as a plate of glass is incorrect. I’m waiting…

glass puts the brakes on convection flow of heat energy, whereas so called “green house” gas molecules absorb and radiate heat rather than contain it.

am I close on that one?

I have no education beyond reading junk on the internet - but I think I get it.

Thank you for responding to my request. Strictly speaking your response is correct. However I wasn’t really referring to a literal glass roof, but rather a mechanism by which greenhouse gasses are absorbed. This will be a bit long, but I’d like to describe some of my understanding of the science.

The common understanding of the greenhouse effect is that the greenhouse molecules act as some sort of shield. They allow energy from the sun (short wave radiation) to pass through, while absorbing infrared (long wave radiation) emitted from the ground, making the air warmer in the process. This was the understanding of the greenhouse effect in the early 1900’s. Experiments were done in which infrared light was shone through different tubes of CO2. Those experiments showed that CO2 didn’t seem to absorb much infrared radiation, and that doubling the length of the tubes had only a small effect. Thus, many scientists of that time were not convinced that CO2 was an important greenhouse gas. The problem was that their model of the greenhouse effect was simplistic and incorrect.

The actual mechanism of the greenhouse effect is subtle and a bit complicated.

Heat Balance

The Sun provides the Earth with short wave radiative energy. The Earth absorbs that short wave radiation and emits long wave infrared radiation, which is emitted into space. If more energy is coming in than is going out, then the Earth warms, increasing the outgoing long wave radiation until the energy output balances the input.

The Infrared Relay

The warm surface of the Earth emits infrared radiation. That radiation travels upwards towards space. But on the way, there is a good chance that the parcel of infrared radiation will run into a greenhouse gas particle, such as CO2 or H2O. The infrared may be absorbed, making the gas molecule warmer. The gas molecule may then re-emit another parcel of infrared radiation out towards space. The new infrared parcel may go through the same process. The infrared parcel may be absorbed and re-emitted several times before leaving the Earth for space.

The Upper Emitting Layer

There is an upper layer from which almost all infrared radiation is emitted to space. The amount of energy emitted by this layer basically controls the heat balance of the Earth. If the amount of infrared energy emitted by this upper layer is reduced, then the Earth warms.

The Effect of Carbon Dioxide

Adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere makes it more difficult for infrared radiation to escape into space. The effect is most important in the upper emitting layer. Adding more CO2 ensures that infrared radiation parcels will be absorbed and re-emitted more frequently. This results in the infrared parcels being emitted to space at HIGHER ALTITUDES. Because temperature decreases with altitude, the CO2 causes the infrared parcel to be emitted from a colder layer of air. This makes the radiation process less efficient, resulting in less energy flow into space. Thus the Earth warms.

It should also be noted that there is little water vapor at in these emitting layers, since the air is so dry. Thus water vapor is not a significant factor in this process.

Complicated, eh.

“How’s this for an opinion: I believe that these intellectual saboteurs are helping to destroy the values that we have inherited from the rennaisance.” - CATCH22

Let’s not exxaggerate. Questioning AGW orthodoxy is not detroying any “inheritance”. Your example is simply another overwrought exxaggeration warmers like to use to suppress and silence any questioning of the “facts”.

“The church did not need to provide evidence for its assertions. It was enough that the church had political and military power. During the rennaisance, it became a more widespread view that assertions needed to be backed up by EVIDENCE.”

And that’s what skeptics are doing. Demanding more evidence. Climate scientists are claiming an ability to predict climate hundreds of years in advance and at present, much of the populace remains doubtful of this claim. Being a democracy, scientists do not rule, but must instead persuade the public that the drastic measurest they advocate must be taken. So far, climate change activists have been unable to do this.

I see a future where rabid enviros vandalize solar installations to save the Earth.

good for a laugh

I hope those of you that want in my pocket to solve global warming will be ready to repay me when you become the emperor with no clothes. Otherwise we should have the option of putting all of you on the shores of Hudson’s Bay where you can tend to your imaginary palm trees and your memorials to the Polar Bear. I was in the early phases of my graduate science education when the coming of the new Ice Age phonies were after grants to spread the sky is falling alarm in my University. Now the same climate whores are serving the needs of the neo-socialists that after the fall of the Soviet Union have found a home in the environmental movement. I know both sides of this coin well and am sad to see us hustled by this crowd again.

There is only one complete and exact computer of global climate and that is the planet itself. By definition it complies with all laws of nature. Einstein said “no number of tests can prove I’m right but only one is needed to prove I’m wrong”. There have been many tests that prove to be wrong the theory that added atmospheric carbon dioxide causes significant global warming. They were run on the planet computer and the results are archived in the Vostok and EPICA ice cores and other proxies. They show that, repeatedly, a temperature increasing trend changed to a decreasing trend and vice versa. For those who understand how feedback works, this temperature trend direction change proves that there is no significant net positive feedback. All that is needed to determine if there is net positive feedback is a temperature trace for a long enough time to average out cyclic variation from random noise and other factors, ENSO, etc. The temperature trace does not even need to be correct in absolute terms just reasonably accurate in relative terms time-wise.

While determination of the magnitude and even the sign of feedback in climate is difficult using climatology, it is trivial, as described above, for someone who understands feedback to deduce from the temperature record alone that significant net positive feedback does not exist. Many climatologists apparently don’t know how feedback works so they don’t realize this. Unaware of their ignorance, they impose significant net positive feedback in their GCMs which causes them to predict substantial warming from carbon dioxide increase. Without significant net positive feedback, the GCMs do not predict significant Global Warming.

what you write. I recommend reading “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:

Review of above:

the tone of those two posts are so similar. If I was on the Frank and Fern team I would speculate they came from the same person.

no wait they aren’t similar - they’re exactly the same.

I’m calling you on it Dan and Bob. You are the same guy.

Seems to me that Desmog is getting more and more enlightened people commenting who realize that AGW is a fraud. Interesting trend.

Oh, and about the Cigs in other countries. I saw a program about that on the Discovery Channel a while back. Seems it’s their culturial and religeous beliefs that will prevent any attempts to curb smoking. They have a firm belief that God will take them when God wants them regardless if they smoke or not.

I like how you’ve just managed to paint with one brush the attitudes about cigarettes for the *entire* rest of the world. That must have been one long documentary.

I think I can paint even a broader stroke. People of all cultures are fools. They prove it by paying good money to suck tar into their lungs. Common sense should overcome cultural pressures to smoke. I conclude that 30% of humanity has no common sense.

Since 85% of the peoples of the world accept religion over reason, then “I conclude that 85% of humanity has no common sense.”

I’m just standing by and letting you guys play amongst yourselves for awhile until the new comments policy comes into effect. I imagine that many of the other regular participants are doing the same. I look forward to conversations that are on-topic and civil, with fewer actionable diatribes and outright lies. So enjoy your 15 minutes, guys.

Fern Mackenzie

what - you’re going to chase us away to the scary parts of the internet? But Fern - We need you to fix our spelling!

oh - so the good guys are laying low for now eh? - I was wondering what happened to Gary

Was away on business.
but now
I’mmm BaaaaACK!

Fern Eludes to upcoming censorship on the Blog.
Could this be?
Is Desmog going to admit defeat on the issue and resort to the propaganda methods of reality denier sites like RealClimate?
Time will tell. But I suspect she may be on to something.
Since the left has never needed truth and honesty to promote their agendas, I see no reason they should care about it now.
As the world cools the propaganda will increase.

When is that coming? I look forward to modding them out of existence a la reddit.

Gotta deal with this Rick spam somehow.

great - now I’m gonna be modded out of existence by pupomatic - how will I ever go on?

As I understand it, if you refrain from obscene language, stay on topic, cite valid sources and avoid actionable claims, you can post here all you want.

Maybe, though, I should suggest to Richard L. that he allow no more than 5 spelling errors in any single post;)

Fern Mackenzie

I do well with all those things except the staying on topic part. That will no doubt be my undoing.

More on the cooling planet.

And This is interesting.
Who would have thought that natural cycles could possibly have any effect over the ALL POWERFUL CO2 effect?

Can we say “PDO” boy and girls?

terrifying graph Gary - proves beyond any doubt that the sky is falling and the Oceans are going to boil any minute now.

Talking about smoke and Spin.
Remember all the hysterical doom and disaster talk over melting in the arctic?


Winds are Dominant Cause of Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheet Losses
Two new studies summarised in a news article in Science magazine point to wind-induced circulation changes in the ocean as the dominant cause of the recent ice losses through the glaciers draining both the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, not ‘global warming.’

You guys have no shame. The fact is that the wind patterns that increased the melting have occurred in the past. They are in fact not that unusual. What IS unusual is the well documented THINNING OF THE ARCTIC SEA ICE. The thinness of the ice made it extremely vulnerable to wind and current variations. The thin ice was easily blown out of the Arctic waters and into warmer waters. This year’s melting accelerated in late August due to some storms which shattered the already thin ice. Once it was broken, the melting accelerated.

hey - this place is totally dead except for a few skeptics.

listened to Chris Martenson’s crash course the last couple days….wow - If he’s even half right, GW is the least of our problems - not even worth thinking about. We’ve got big population problems, big resource problems, huge energy problems. GW is nothing but a petty distraction.

all those problems much, much worse.

Already starting to do so.

This might be worst situation but we should teach people and companies something about these issues. Everybody is making money regardless considering this issue. There should be distance learning high school diploma for all those people who need these kind of education. Government must force them to education themselves from these issues and try to solve them


So true that CO2 is affecting the air to be polluted filled by much destructive substances in the atmosphere. Also the cigarette has much substances turning to the air that was converted to different kinds of harmful elements filling the air. A lot of us would give a no fax cash advance to get Glenn Beck and the growing Chicken Little cabal to pipe down.

Vivian Krause

Vivian Krause has spent years scrutinizing how Canadian environmental groups are funded, claiming she's just asking “fair questions.”

But as the blogger-turned-newspaper-columnist has run rampant with her conspiracy theory that American charitable foundations' support of Canadian environmental groups is nefarious, she has continually avoided seeking a fair answer.

If Krause were seeking a fair answer, she'd quickly learn that both investment dollars and philanthropic dollars cross borders all the time. There...

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