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Rx for Earth: Sooner Not Later

The U.S. and other nations should take immediate, large-scale action to stop climate change. Pro or con?

Pro: It’s Now or Never

Scientists recently issued a stark warning that the earth’s average temperature could increase by as much as 6.4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Such findings underscore the urgency of coming to grips with the economics of climate change. Last year, I was asked to review the evidence and advise the British government on this issue ( I concluded that the costs of action to reduce climate-change risks, while significant, will be much smaller than the economic and human costs of the damage if we do nothing.

My analysis indicates global average temperature increases of 4 degrees Celsius and above will bring substantial risks to every nation. Warming on this scale can bring extreme weather disasters and effects on food production and water availability. Indeed, it carries risks of sudden changes to monsoon rains, reductions in water flow in the Nile River valley, and faster rates of sea-level rise—events that could trigger social instability, migration, and even conflict.

Still, some people disregard future consequences simply because there is a time delay. Contrary to recent reports, my analysis places much lower weight on a future dollar than a dollar now, because future generations may have higher consumption.

Reducing dependence on fossil fuels, using cleaner technologies, increasing efficiency, and protecting forests together will reduce the risks of climate change and bring numerous other benefits including energy security and improved health. The costs are likely to add up to in the neighborhood of 1% of global gross domestic product.

Lower-emission technologies will provide new economic opportunities for many businesses. Lowering greenhouse gas emissions will not damage economic growth, but in the long run, climate change itself could undermine growth. So action to reduce emissions is a pro-growth strategy.

Thankfully, this realization is spreading rapidly. The European Union has strengthened its trading scheme for emissions and is looking for cuts in carbon of up to 30% by 2020. Chinese leaders have set a domestic goal to cut energy intensity 20% by 2010.

I believe the next steps should include deeper carbon trading. Trading in CO2 reductions means that action is taken wherever it is cheapest, and that reduces the costs of action around the world.

If the U.S. can marshal its major partners around the world and create an effective global response to this challenge, we can avoid the worst risks of climate change. But time is running short. If we do not act now, the opportunity may not return.

Con: Haste Makes Waste

As concern over global climate change builds, the urge to act now and think later is great. The magnitude of this issue requires that policymakers be deliberate and adhere to the following principles.

First, climate change policies must preserve U.S. jobs and competitiveness. Excessive restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions would encourage U.S. companies to shift jobs overseas, where goods can be produced more cheaply and where emissions controls are not as strict, or are nonexistent.

Second, climate change is a global challenge that requires a global response. Fast-growing developing nations such as China and India are just beginning to address this issue, and until they do there is no hope for an overall reduction of CO2. Even if the U.S. were to shut down its entire economy, growth in emissions from emerging countries would replace U.S. emissions within the next quarter of a century.

Third, the U.S. must continue to lead the world in energy efficiency and conservation. Since 1980 the amount of energy required to expand the U.S. economy has decreased by more than 50%. According to one U.S. government official, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product declined 7.5% over a five-year period ending in 2004.

Fourth, investment in technology is critical, including that which reduces, prevents, or sequesters greenhouse gas emissions. Although some of these technologies currently exist, they are not cost-effective. We must also encourage investment in clean energy by reducing barriers to the research and development of clean coal, nuclear energy, wind, hydropower, biofuels, and other alternative fuels.

Let’s understand, however, that current supplies of alternative energy are not yet adequate to fuel our growing economy and rising population. More than 85% of the energy consumed in the U.S. is produced from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and that will likely continue to be the case for many years.

Finally, we need a long-term strategy that includes maximum flexibility and continued scientific inquiry, sustained over many years. The Kyoto Protocol serves as evidence that short-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction mandates are a recipe for failure. Just about every nation that signed onto the Kyoto Protocol is falling far short of its overly ambitious and prohibitively costly emissions targets.

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The experiences of other nations show that an inflexible, command-and-control, carbon reduction strategy with mandatory caps and taxes is a proven failure. It’s time to look to a long-term, pragmatic, global, market- and technology-driven approach.

Reader Comments

Leonardo Guerrero

I'm totally pro. It seems that Mr. Donohue hasn't seen the Al Gore documentary, and if he did, he didn't listened much. We are extremely late on taking actions against CO2 gases. We are in a phase of autodestruction of the human race. It is the time to demonstrate we are superior to other animal species and that we can plan ahead for the well-being of the human race. People who are well placed to make big changes should act now and think ahead on the interest of the whole population of the world and not just in the interest of a few. Of course, there is going to be job loss and an economic slowdown, but it isn't a choice anymore. We have to open our eyes and make lots of changes in our life styles, not just in America but all around the world. Al Gore is doing a great job of making people around the world aware of the problem. He is helping people to open their eyes. If we act all together, we'll leave a world acceptable for our children to live in. Spread the word, because we can make it happen.


How many times have we heard economists tell us the population growth of India is its biggest advantage? This planet is 50% overpopulated. Yet the economic experts with their tunnel vision still project short-sighted growth rates while ignoring long-term environmental impact that will suppress and even roll back economic progress. We don't need more people on this planet, but rather more education for the ones already here. Europe, Russia, and Japan already have a shrinking population. The U.S. is mainly absorbing immigrants from other countries. China's population is still growing but has slowed down quite a bit due to its population control policy decades ago. It will start to decline in a decade or so. India's 1.1 billion population is still growing strong and even accelerating. Technology can only do so much to reduce the rampant destruction of the earth by humans. If the human population continues to grow unrestrained, it won't matter which country will be the superpower 20 or 50 years from now. The only superpower left will be an angry Mother Nature.

jay radic

Newsweek 1975. Global cooling hysteria.
Enough said.

Ralph Himelick

I feel we are making more legitimate efforts as it is to "save the environment" than the rest of the world combined. I believe global warming (if it really exists) is more a function of the sun's activity than anything we as humans can do to affect the environment. Do I believe that we should all go out and burn tires and pour motor oil down drains? Of course not. However, most international propositions for "saving" the world seem to involve destroying the sovereignty of the U.S., and bankrupting our economy to support the wombats that run that cesspool that is the U.N. Truly reasonable solutions exist. Let's not follow the left off their usual cliff (maybe they'll just go by themselves).

Jim Alderson

It is probably correct that the earth is warming. However, 30 years ago these same scientists were propounding that we were entering a new ice age. I believe a rational solution, if one can be found, requires careful, thoughtful, and meaningful dialogue.

Anthony Lam

I might be the only one who has changed my mind about global warming. Naive before, now I see that it is impossible to know if global warming is caused by human activity. Previous cycles of the world have made it much hotter (Jurassic period) or colder (any ice age). The world was not doomed when these occurred, quite the opposite. In the Jurassic period, plants covered the world, [coexisting} with the dinosaurs. During the Ice Age, life was tough, but it did strengthen the species that were adaptable to the new environment. I'm not denying that global warming is happening, I just don't care until it is proven that the world would be screwed if it becomes hotter. By the way, the most important greenhouse gas is water vapor. The largest producers of carbon dioxide are the oceans. The world is most likely not screwed, and more important issues on the environment such as heavy-metal contamination and air pollution should be addressed first.

Peter B

This climate change hysteria is silly. It is obvious we have developed a climate change bureaucratic complex. The more people who worry about climate change the more we spend to study it and write scary reports. These reports make people worry more, and the cycle continues. This is not science; it is a religious cult.

Frank M.

I could understand the need for debate on the topic--if all you people who have written in to express an opinion had the qualifications of a Phd in one of the sciences behind your name. This I doubt.

Michael H.

Regarding Jay's comment on the global cooling worry of 32 years ago: That was a generation ago, with instrumentation and data that reflected the time before widespread use of microprocessors, autonomous floating measuring instruments, satellite observations, and so on. Jay may be surprised to learn how much progress has been made in extending and refining the observational data---so much so that his comment is irrelevant. I can also look at the past and find, for example, comments from IBM in the 1950s that only about 14 computers will be needed in the world. It's sort of funny, but very much beside the point. Get serious, Jay, and do a little study.


Ralph said: "involve destroying the sovereignty of the U.S. and bankrupting our economy to support the wombats that run that cesspool that is the U.N. Truly reasonable solutions exist. Let's not follow the left off their usual cliff (maybe they'll just go by themselves)."

I hate to break it to you, but we're already going off a cliff, courtesy of those "conservatives" in power right now. Climate change will be much more expensive than preventing it. Take just a little bit of the budget we use to fight peasants in Iraq, and apply it to curbing greenhouse gases. After that, we can live to fight another day.

BTW, the climate just has to change a little to render Earth inhospitable to humans. Sure, there was cooling and warming in the past, along with mass extinctions. The Earth will be just fine, it's us humans I worry about.


How do we know CO2 emissions from fossil fuels contribute so much to global warming? It says: "Reducing dependence on fossil fuels…and protecting forests together will reduce the risks of climate change…" The key word is "risks." I need a little more assurance that than; say "cause" not "risks" in that context. There have been some significant climate changes in the Earth's pre-recorded history, like the Ice Age and the global warming following it. No policies were brought into action back then.


Food, water and air are the 3 basic necessities of life. Without these 3, life will cease to exist. And that includes humans. Any action taken to preserve and increase what we have today and enhance the quality is the most sensible thing to do. And it is priceless.

Massive industrialization and an exploding global population are affecting Earth's atmosphere and climate. Exactly in what form and shape will emerge as time progresses and we continue with our economic activities and plundering nature. There is no scientific evidence to prove that the affect is positive. But enough data are pointing in the other direction.

Do we really want to see how bad it can get, and then act? Have we really asked ourselves how many of us would be left to act on it?

We don't understand climate change well enough to provide solid proof and reliable predictions. The rate at which our scientific understanding is growing is obviously slower than the rate at which we are causing the situation to deteriorate.

Isn't it time to just slow things down a little bit? People will not make sacrifices today to address a future dire problem not directly hitting them. Maybe that's the way we are. But I think we should make an exception for global warming. It's in our best interest. Even if it is in haste, it is better to err on the side favouring nature.


- Why isn't Al Gore's home energy-neutral? Shouldn't he have solar panels and windmills that allow him to actually sell electricity to his local utility?

- Why do all of the Hollywood people joining with Al Gore have such huge homes that have no solar panels or windmills?

Talk is talk, but actions speak louder than words. They should be leaders in this type of technology, but I don't see it happening.


If you want a positive change, maximize solar and wind energy by banning clothes dryers and using a clothes line. The energy savings would put to shame all the panels and windmills in the U.S. today in terms of energy and pollution. You should all start this program at once if you're serious.


After reading Jay's posted article, I am no less convinced industrialization is changing the Earth's climate. The article noted that there had been "three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions," which would coincide roughly with the increase in combustion-engine popularity. The scientists in the 1970s reported a cooling period. Then the Earth got warm again. Then we had el niño, then la niña. Never mind what the actual temperature is; what troubles me is the increase in temperature variation. The Earth's temperature regulation is becoming an out-of-control process. If a machine in a factory started producing this type of variability, you would throw a six sigma person at the problem to reduce the variation and create a long-term control process to keep things in check. The Earth is our most productive machine, and it needs some help to remain productive.

e brown

Thumbs down to both. A quick check of the NASA Web site shows there has been higher sun-spot activity over the last 20 years, which has resulted in higher temperatures throughout our solar system. In addition, a review of the temperature data on Mars shows that it has been increasing. The bottom line--our rising temperature is being caused by our sun, not human action. The other part of this issue is pollution, and it is hurting our health. We should be taking reasonable action to reduce it.


E brown: A "quick check" isn't enough. Nor is solar flux enough to explain most of the warming trend (still in its early stages). Thermal inertia (mostly from the oceans), feedback effects, and a large, persistent CO2 accumulation mean more change in the "pipeline" and a need to act before significant atmospheric effects are widespread.

Even if solar were a significant factor in the warming, an amplified greenhouse effect traps more of that energy. But for the "rest of the story" on solar influence and Mars, see
(#9) and


We are so dumb. More people, more cars, more factories, more gas. Even if the Earth is going through a cycle or the sun is exploding, we still have more of the above, hence more gas (including the likes of my spiel here). One plus one still equals two in my math. If you want the end result to be 1.5, you still have to take away half a point. The idea that we should take no action to reduce the gas factor is just stupid.


The comments against the science of climate change are anti-science, like the denials of Galileo's theory that the Earth rotates around the sun. People believe what they want. One of the roles of good government is to make long-term plans for the welfare of the people—for example, investment in infrastructure like roads, schools, public health, defense, and now climate change.

Economic activity providing solutions to environmental problems provides jobs and creates wealth just as building another road or real estate development does. I support starting and expanding environmentally beneficial activities now.


I stopped driving and started cycling—thinking that it is better for the environment and for myself. I don't know if it really helps the environment, but I am hooked on the morning ride to work.


Global warming? I don't think so. How is it that we don't set a new "record high for this date" every day? Very often the highest recorded temperature for any given day was 50 or more years ago. Who's kidding whom? When we start seeing a new record high for "this date" every day, I'll start believing.

Peter Homan

I read in The National Post of 21/04/2007 an interesting Q&A with a professor Linden or Lindzen. According to his analysis, there is also evidence for a cooling climate. He points out that in the last 6 years, the supposed temperature change has gone nowhere, which historically has indicated that we can look forward to a cooling trend.

This leads me to a word I don't use to often, "eisegesis." I think that the scientific community has mostly jumped onto the eisegesis bandwagon and is doing its science in reverse. First a theory is developed, i.e. global warming, and then the data is collected and interpreted in such a way as to substantiate the prevailing theory. What we really need is a search for truth rather than just facts that may or may not prove a popular theory. Does it remind you of the Year 2000 scare where all our computers were going to go on the fritz. I know a whole lot of money was spent and numerous programs were written, but what was the truth? Now with 20/20 vision, are we still of the same opinion as then? Finally and most important, we must never forget that God created the heavens and the earth. If you are so convinced that the world may come to a real warm or hot conclusion, should we not look to our Creator? He created and said it was good; man came along and broke it.


I read comments like Tom's and start to think people just don't realize how serious a relatively small change can be. A general trend of a few degrees over years doesn't seem like a big deal, but when you take into consideration that these trends are applied to mind-bogglingly enormous ecosystems, i.e. an entire planet or even just an entire ocean, you have to realize the significance of the forces behind that kind of change.

A few degrees over a number of years is something not to be taken lightly—you can't see these kinds of serious changes overnight. If we were experiencing new high temperatures every day, that's probably a sign that the Earth is actually plummeting straight into the sun at speeds we can't even fathom.


It is not enough just to infer either way about global warming by observing that temperatures are rising or falling or remaining stable. Being from India, I have seen that many weather patterns, which had been stable for centuries, have changed drastically. The glaciers in the Himalayas are melting, which would mean death from drought to many millions in the northern plains, flooding of the plains of Bangladesh and east India, and a total change in the climate pattern of Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, and the surrounding areas. With a hastened destruction of the glaciers, the entire Indian subcontinent will eventually die a dry death.

Nobody wants to emaciate the American economy. What is needed is a worldwide agreement on collective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and other threatening factors like CFCs and plastic. The world looks to the U.S. for providing, and leading the way in adopting, technology that is ecologically sustainable in such a way that there is no excessively skewed distribution of profits. Face it: Most of the hostility toward the U.S. stems from the fact that they earn excess profits from things that the Third World regards as absolute necessities of life. If this seems to be excessively self-abnegating and too philanthropic to be American, I can only say this: You have to earn being on top—not only economically but also in the hearts of the people of the world.


The one thing we can all do that would have a positive impact and save money is to travel less. Working from home one day per week reduces gasoline costs by 20%.

Brad Arnold

It has been calculated that to obtain just a 50% chance of preventing dangerous global warming, global GHG emissions must be cut 80% by 2050.

Furthermore, it is fair that developing nations continue to increase their GHG emissions per person, so this means developed nations will have to cut their emissions by more than 90% per person.

In other words, by 2050, Americans will have to cut their GHG emissions more than 90% from 2007 levels, and that is to only have a 50% chance of success preventing dangerous global warming.

To lower the CO2 level of the atmosphere, mankind either has to decrease CO2 emissions dramatically, or we have to improve nature's ability to remove the CO2 from the air.

Since worldwide demand for electricity is expected to double by around 2030, and coal-fired generation now accounts for about 30% of that, it is hard to see how mankind's CO2 emissions can be cut by that much, that quickly.

By the way, I haven't even included other factors, like:

- Increased natural emissions from carbon sinks that become carbon emitters when the Earth continues to warm.

- Nature soaks up about half of mankind's CO2 emissions now, but that is expected to reduce 30% by 2030

- Increased growth of fossil-fuel-powered transportation.

- Increased agricultural GHG emissions.

- Decreased global dimming if emissions decrease.

In summary, since mankind probably won't cut greenhouse gas emissions so fast and so deep that dangerous global warming is avoided, removing the CO2 from the air is the only solution.

I suggest improving nature's ability to absorb CO2 with genetic engineering (perhaps seeding a genetically modified organism into the ocean).

Karl Engblom

A question for everyone: Should polluters compensate the victims?

I think so. I would like to see a "Climate Change Responsibility Act," where the U.S. and other developed countries clearly state that they are going to compensate victims, both within and outside their own countries.

For example, if 80 million people become displaced by rising sea levels, the U.S. should provide sanctuary for 20 million of them, since it has caused 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and Europe should take in something like 16 million.

Some cause-and-effect relationships will be hard to determine, but it’s just a matter of creating rules for acceptable variation. A single hurricane is a chance event, but if a certain region experiences 50 hurricanes over a 10 year period, when 10 hurricanes per decade was the 20th-century average, the polluters should pay for the damage caused by the other 40. There are pretty good statistics on the average frequency of storms, floods, droughts, the sea levels, etc from the time before global warming.

No one is asking you to stop driving SUVs. Drive as much as you want, as long as you pay for the damage you are causing.


All of this global warming alarmism is ridiculous; it's post-normal science. People, you need to realize that all of these dire predictions come from computer models that lack any real skill. No person or computer model can predict the future; it's not possible, especially for a nonlinear, complex, and chaotic system like Earth's environment. If you take a few minutes and actually look into the science and not just the media reports, you'll see there is a huge amount of uncertainty. Governments and organizations around the world are using this whole scare as a proxy for changing energy policy. Let's just call it what it is.


The polar caps on Mars are melting. Human involvement? Hardly. Not sure and really don't care what Al Gore thinks about a melting Mars, but common sense would dictate that, as Mars is much farther away from the sun than Earth, our climate changes must have a lot to do with the sun's (spot) activity.

Am I for green technology? Sure, with 6.5 billion of us here now and an anticipated doubling within 50 or so years, natural resources are an ever-dwindling commodity. Truth is, we are going to have to get a handle on population growth--and sooner rather than later. The global warming fear mongers never have seemed to address this issue, erroneously thinking we can conserve (changing light bulbs and taxing the hell out of everything) our way out.


The most pathetic thing about this global warming issue is that the opinions (pro, con) of most people hinge on their "political" ideology--liberal-conservative. I have a strong opinion that 98% of the human population is drop-dead stupid and has nary a clue about the difference between opinion and fact.

I remember a recent conversation with a stranger in a U.S. airport who was strongly "pro"--who didn't even realize the earth has gone through numerous warming and cooling periods. Yet he believed everything that hypocrite Al Gore had to say in his Op/Ed movie. The media outlets truly understand the stupidity of the human race and ultimately prey on the weak by getting them to believe the hype and scare tactics.


Judging by comments above, there is still a high percentage of denial that global warming is even happening. The best explanation I have seen so far is a documentary by David Attenborough that clearly explains the carbon cycle we are all a part of.

If many of the biggest companies in the world's sole purpose in life is to extract millions of years' worth of carbon-based fossil fuel from under ground with the side effect of energy production resulting in the transfer of much of that carbon into the air, it's obvious there will be major effects.

As the broader population gradually becomes aware of the need to be more energy efficient, then general demand moves more in that direction. The changes have started small with the move away from 95% inefficient incandescent light bulbs in the home. I think electric vehicles are a mega trend that hasn't even started to gain traction yet. An ICE is the motoring equivalent of the incandescent light bulb at about 15% energy efficient. As people become aware they are wasting 85% of the money they spend at the petrol pump simply because the ICE is inherently inefficient and that EVs can be 1/10th the cost to run compared to a petrol-powered car, demand for electric vehicles will skyrocket.

As for economic benefits, we've all witnessed the broad-based inflation caused by rapidly rising fuel prices--everything from food to wages has been affected. Well, imagine the reverse of that effect when driving costs are reduced by a factor of 10, down to as little as $0.01 per mile. All the cash flow that currently gets siphoned off the general economy in huge quantities by hedge funds, oil companies, and foreign suppliers can remain in consumers' pockets for wealth redistribution at their discretion.


If the government showed this much concern over keeping America working, manufacturing jobs wouldn't be leaving, new jobs would be coming, and we would be paying less in taxes. So, great, you solve the world's energy problems, but you still leave us a Third World country. Oh, and one other thing: The guy who believes we are all stupid isn't far off the mark, including him. So let's get cheaper energy, no deficit, and employ everyone. Are there any politicians out there willing to commit to that? If so, they will have my vote. Chew on that, America.

Robert Shafer (Ph.D. physics)

The United States, with about 5% of the world population, uses about 25% of the world's energy. Energy is the fuel for our GDP (gross domestic product). Our high GDP per capita has given us one of the the highest standards of living in the history of the world, but at a very high price. On a per-capita basis, let's examine the world's energy consumption: about 70 Mbtu (million Btu) of energy per capita (per 2005 IEA tables). We are now being told that the fossil fuel component of this energy is too high and must be reduced. For individual countries, the numbers are U.S., 340 Mbtu per capita; China, 51; Indonesia, 23; India, 15; and Pakistan, 14 Mbtu per capita. The average American driver (205 million) each uses about 700 gallons of gasoline annually. At 115,000 Btu per gallon, this is 81 Mbtu per driver annually, more than the total energy use by more than half the world's population. Because global warming gases are cumulative, we must be precautionary and do something now, before the world reaches a point where there will need to be mandatory international restrictions, including trade embargoes, to reduce the use of oil.

Unfortunately, the wealthy nations must reduce the most Mbtu consumption per capita, on a percentage basis, so that developing countries will have a chance to develop, while the wealthy ones reduce their fossil fuel energy use. At some point, altruism must become global, not parochial. The gross disparity between the energy consumption by people in the wealthiest and poorest nations cannot persist indefinitely, without regional and worldwide political and military conflict. Inexpensive alternative energy, energy conservation, energy sharing, and energy efficiency seem to be the only solutions.


I, for one, am probably more inclined to believe in the scientific majority (hence, what I like to call "global climate uncertainty" is caused to an avoidable extent by the current practices of large-scale human industrial activity and consumer behavior).

But even if I didn't, and I called myself an intelligent person, I'd believe in simple things like cost avoidance and energy-use reduction, purchase of better products (like the EVs and CFLs mentioned here), lower amounts of wasted resources (including the sun, which is shining down with free energy all the time), which is just good fiscal and business sense either on the part of a corporation or a family.

Not to mention more "close to home" issues like national security and U.S. economic development in a growth industry. It's a pretty simple economic equation even without the scientists, global mathematical models, etc.

Paul B

We should be doing much more to harness renewable resources, and it's in our economic interest to do so. But the Al Gores of this world don't want us drilling for more oil; they want to force the issue. Indeed, they want the end of the age of the internal combustion engine.

With the Hollywood films, and the career interests of people like Gore, we've become hysterical on this issue and have lost perspective. We are about to embark on a trillion dollar tilt at the latest windmill. The resources could be better spent on real human suffering.

jerry Jiang

Climate change is a complex global issue demanding innovative solutions. A vast array of stakeholders--large and small, public and private--are turning their attention to new approaches to securing a greener future. The challenge lies in developing sound measures that not only capitalize on new market mechanisms and sources of revenues (such as carbon credits) but also optimally engage key players, including government, industry, and civil society.

Motor vehicles are the major source of urban air pollution. A study shows motor vehicle emissions contribute the following levels of pollutants to the overall air quality:

80% of carbon monoxide (CO)
60% of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
40% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
30% of particulate matter (PM)--resulting in winter smog

With rising oil prices and global pollution concerns, governments and consumers are discovering the powerful benefits of electrical vehicle technology.

Please surf for killer technology in electric vehicle applications.

Worldwide applications of magdyno technology will help to save our plant and save energy.

green Power

Poor LEV/EV performance is slowing consumer adoption due to the following customer problems:

- Limited range between charges
- Expensive battery only lasts one year
- Limited warranty due to power train problems
- Slow acceleration from stop
- Slow acceleration from cruising speed
- Can't climb steep hills
- High torque output produces heat in the motor windings that must be removed to avoid motor damage

Battery technology is one of the factors in electric vehicle adoption; however, more efficient electric motor innovation should be taken into consideration.

In, it shown there are 121 participants in the recent show in California, but most companies are battery or EV engineering companies, not many electric motor drive-train (motor) companies in the event. More investment is recommended in innovations of drive-train motor and control technology in order to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles' significantly reducing the greenhouse gas emission.

Paul Leveille

Why this subject is still debated is beyond rational thinking. There are no choices. We probably will destroy all life on this planet if we continue to follow our current path. This is not a gamble we can afford to choose. The skeptics need to become more educated if that is possible. Start reading articles about climate change and global warming in the archives of Scientific American.

Mike K

I have several questions that should be asked and addressed in this debate.

Question 1: Correct me if I am wrong, but CO2 is the fuel for photosynthesis in plant life, which results in the production on O2 or oxygen. So if we have more CO2 in the atmosphere, would we not have more healthy and thriving plant life on the planet? And with more healthy and thriving plant life, would that not result in more oxygen being generated for more consumption by the animal life on the planet (including humans)? So can someone explain to me why this is bad?

Question 2: Why is a warmer climate worse for the planet and mankind? It has been proven that back between 1000 and1300, A.D., the planet warmed up, and this warm-up was extremely beneficial for both humans and plants in the Europeans countries, especially England and Ireland. Was this not good for mankind at the time? I think so. So why is global warming bad now? And how many cars or power plants were on the planet at the time? So how do the "global warming geniuses" explain the global warming during this period? Maybe global warming is not man-made and is a result of something else, like activity of the sun or volcanic activity on the earth. How much greenhouse gas was spewed into the atmosphere when Mount St. Helens blew its top several years ago? Could these gasses and dust particles in the atmosphere affect the global climate temperature?

Question 3: How many people die each year from the cold compared to people who die from the heat? I believe the facts will bear out that more people die from the cold. I personally think if the planet was a little warmer that might not be all that bad (longer growing seasons that would result in higher crop yields, less energy use in the winter trying to heat our homes, etc.).

Question 4: Why does everyone assume the global warming (that is supposedly occurring, which is less than 1 degree in the past 100 years), is man-made? First, how accurate were our thermometers 100 years ago? Second, have you seen the studies of the areas where these official temperature measurements are being taken? Some are right next to A/C units blowing hot air in the direction of the towers, and others are now surrounded by asphalt. How much asphalt do you think was around these sites 100 years ago? Seems to me that there is a significant debate as to whether these numbers are accurate. And 1 degree in 100 years. With the known problems with the measurement devises, do we really feel this is statically significant? The standard deviation of these measurements would prove this number would not be statistically significant? That's from a Six Sigma trained person.

Question 5: If we can't even predict what the weather is going to be in the next few days, let along over a four to five month period (last year's hurricane predictions), why do we think these global warming advocates can predict the global climate in 40 to 100 years from now? Does this not seem ridiculous?

David Becher -Cambridge

Give Mr. Stern credit for his detailed review of available information--which, however, was strongly panned for cherry picking and using the precautionary principle in cost-benefit discounting future benefits against near-term costs. More important, we are yet to see the science that justifies redirecting the global economy to mount this massive attack on warming mitigation, e.g., Nordhaus (Yale economics), Weitzman (Harvard economics) in the September, 2007, issue of American Economic Review; Pielke (University of Colorado Atm Sci and Metrology) in Science Direct, Feb 2007).

Weitzman also studied (NBER working paper #13490, Oct., 2007) on how an uncertain multiplicative parameter, which scales or amplifies exogenous shocks and is updated by Bayesian learning, induces a critical "tail fattening" of posterior-predictive distributions. This, however, uses the outputs of the same models to define a set of statistical data on low probability catastrophic climate change events. However, IPCC itself says that it cannot forecast beyond a short period, i.e., certainly not multi-decade periods because of the complexity and non-linearity of the systems. And too many degrees of freedom in modeling--same reasons it is difficult to develop long-term macroeconomic models. What does this really mean? Any one climate-change model is unable to inform on the earth's future CO2 and temperature trajectory. The IPCC presents sets of multiple model outcomes to "bracket" the possible outcome--but this is a scenario input and output with assumptions on the input and forcings--not actual closed system modeling.

IPCC makes no claim that any one of these outputs actually represent a model of the future trajectory of input and forcings--greenhouse gases and temperature. So IPPC shows the entire collection that gets imprinted as the IPCC idea of the likely range of forecasts--it does not. So get a group of IPCC staff together and make a poll on likely, very likely, very highly likely, etc., with understanding that it absolutely is unbiased voting. A lot of great science is being done on understanding what has happened in the past. The models give framework for learning, but they are not predictive. But let's be clear that a lot of the alarm of GHGs and warming is from this IPCC framing the question.

I will disregard anyone's blog that starts by putting their name followed by PhD, as in Joe Blow, PhD. Not necessary. Please read Wittgenstein's "Philosophical Investigations" and "On Certainty," and come back and discuss this in the most basic terms of understanding, knowledge, values. Great, Al Gore has just started up a climate venture capital company. And Dupont, GE, BP, etc., have huge stakes in cashing in on carbon credits or sale of goods and services if serious climate-change policy is promulgated.

We have been down this road how many times throughout history? Thomas Malthus, 1798, "An Essay on the Principal of Population," Paul Ehrlich's 1968, The Population Bomb, Club of Rome's Limits to Growth, first published in 1972, Michael Moore's Day After Tomorrow, and Gore's exaggerated Inconvenient Truth. I believe some people think they understand the science and the process of science apart from policy-making. But what is and is not legitimate science is even debatable on a philosophical level (meaning--some views of science require that the null hypothesis or counter factual be proven and that science as progress is not acceptable.)

So why are we in the debate? Thomas Hobbs said a person acts only in his own best interest. But value systems must also come into play--what one person sees as best interest, another would not.

The Oxford historian Norman Davis outlined five basic rules of propaganda in Europe--a History, Oxford Press, 1996, pp 500-501):

Simplification--reducing all data to a simple confrontation between "good and bad," "friend and foes," etc.

Disfiguration--discrediting the opposition by crude smears and parodies

Transfusion--manipulating the consensus values of the target audience for one's own end

Unanimity--presenting one's viewpoint as if it were the unanimous opinion of all right-thinking people; drawing the doubting individual into agreement by the appeal of "star- performers," by social pressure, and by "psychological contagion."

Orchestration--endlessly repeating the same message in different variations.

IPCC should be unbiased in the working of science and separated from the policy making. I would like to see a world body independent of IPCC as peer review and policy recommending--put in Nobel prize winners in economics; cognitive psychology (Tversky and Kahneman), due process (a lawyer); facilitation. IPCC has very good scientists; they are being used unfairly by the policy advocates.

David Becher

Climate-change science is different from, but just as complex as, particle physics. There was never this kind of debate on particle physics. People who have done large-scale nonlinear systems modeling can understand--journalists and talk show hosts cannot. IPCC says that the climate models are not reliable for multi-decade predictions. The driving force for policy is long-term climate change and chance of triggering very poorly understood low-probability high-consequence climatic outcomes...perhaps lower probabilities than, say, finding life in outer space.

David Becher

Reduce this to the basic language of philosophical logicians such as Russell, Frege, and Wittgenstein, in which facts are reduced to most basic statements and we shall see what is known and not known about climate change. The earth has warmed in the last hundred years by less than a degree; we cannot explain the cooling in the middle of the last century; it is likely that climate will warm in the next century, but IPCC climate models cannot inform on the extent of future warming (all of the talk is about scenarios but does not take into account changes of GHG in both supply and demand of GHG); and models cannot account for the lag in temperature rise preceding the CO2 increase over many millennial cycles of warming and cooling. IPCC statements about mid- and long-term impact are not supported by data and reasoned analysis, and models cannot be tested--and yet the committee makes subjective "qualitative" probabilities on likely, very likely, etc., which is an ideological tactic to scam the public. Unqualified persons like ex-vice-presidents, politicians, and media are voicing opinions and being heard (for ideological reasons) when they are unqualified to speak. Wittgenstein's closing to Tractatus Logico Philosophicus paragraph 7 says: "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence." I am highly qualified to speak on physical chemistry, large-scale systems modeling, thermodynamics, economics, and philosophy.
David Becher PhD, MBA


I believe the pro of this article should go to the governments of developing countries like India. India is the second biggestnation in population, and still there are no reforms or steps from government to control population and their caused pollution.

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