Environmental concern disappears with economic instability

From University of Southern California  another lesson from the economic train wreck that is Greece; people stop worrying about the environment when you make cleaner fuels too expensive to use.

The price for heating oil has skyrocketed in Greece over the last two years (the government raised the taxes on heating oil 450% this fall alone), and now many residents are turning to wood burning for winter heat since they can’t afford the oil, which has affected the city’s air quality:

athens smog

Smog from wood burning and other sources obscures The Parthenon in this photo. Source: Mediterranean Palimpsest

Greek economic crisis leads to air pollution crisis

Levels of dangerous air particulates jump 30 percent as people turn to burning cheaper fuel sources

In the midst of a winter cold snap, a study from researchers in the United States and Greece reveals an overlooked side effect of economic crisis – dangerous air quality caused by burning cheaper fuel for warmth.

The researchers, led by Constantinos Sioutas of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, show that the concentration of fine air particles in one of Greece’s economically hardest hit areas has risen 30 percent since the financial crisis began, leading to potential long-term health effects.

These fine particles – measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter (approximately 1/30th the diameter of a human hair) – are especially dangerous because they can lodge deep into the tissue of lungs, according to the EPA.

“People need to stay warm, but face decreasing employment and rising fuel costs,” explained Sioutas, senior author of the study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology and Fred Champion Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the USC Viterbi School. “The problem is economic hardship has compelled residents to burn low quality fuel, such as wood and waste materials, that pollutes the air.”

Unemployment in Greece climbed above 27 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, heating oil prices have nearly tripled in Greece during the Greek financial crisis of the last few years – driven in part by a fuel tax hike. Cold Greeks, it would appear (according to the air quality), have turned to wood as a major fuel source.

In their study, the researchers collected air samples that supported anecdotal evidence of Greek residents burning of wood and trash for heating. Taken over two-month stretches in Winter 2012 and again in Winter 2013, the samples reveal a dramatic increase in airborne fine particles since the beginning of the economic crisis.

The concentration of these particles, which has been linked to increased risk for heart disease and respiratory problems, rose from 26 to 36 micrograms per square meter over the study period, the researchers found. The EPA standard in the United States is an average of 20 micrograms per square meter over a 24-hour period. Worse yet, the concentrations of carcinogenic organic compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) increased five-fold during the study period, the researchers found.

The concentration of the particulates was highest in the evening, presumably when more people were burning fuel for warmth, the study found. An analysis of the air samples also showed a two-to-five-fold increase in the airborne concentrations of organic compounds such as levoglucosan, mannosan and galactosan, which indicate the burning of biomass. The presence of these compounds has been strongly correlated in past research to oxidative stress in human cells, which is linked to inflammation, aging and the development of age-related diseases.

“Wood’s cheap, but it’s having a major negative impact on air quality,” Sioutas said. The authors recommend active involvement of public authorities and local agencies to implement effective air pollution control strategies. They suggest increasing natural gas distribution in residential areas as a practical long-term solution. Catalytic domestic wood burners and increasing the energy efficiency of existing buildings might be additional possible solutions, according to the report.

###

Sioutas collaborated with researchers from USC, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the study. Arian Saffari, a Provost PhD fellow at the USC Viterbi School, is lead author of the study. The research was funded by the USC Provost, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the City of Thessaloniki Mayor’s office.

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77 Responses to Environmental concern disappears with economic instability

  1. GlynnMhor says:

    Stop taxing heating oil would be another solution, one that does not seem to have occurred to the authors…

  2. Andrew Marvell says:

    Well if the Greeks are burning wood for heat, that means the Greek trireme threat will recede.

  3. Oldseadog says:

    Where Greece is now, most of Africa, S. America and Asia have been since forever.
    If CAGW had not been invented by the politicians, many of these places could have had clean energy by now.

  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    And they couldn’t see this coming?

  5. I nominate another Tag: Energy Poverty

  6. Wijnand says:

    Shouldn’t the headline be:
    Environmental concern disappears with economic INstability?

  7. Alan Robertson says:

    Athens is once again showing humanity the way of the future.

  8. otsar says:

    Welcome to the third world. Newspapers with non smearing ink, cardboard, polyelthylene bags, anything that burns,etc, will be recycled in ways unanticipated by the economic wizards and bureucrats. The response will be to outlaw burning, then the burning will happen at night. Then there will be heavy enforcement action. Then it will be too dangerous to enforce.

  9. CaligulaJones says:

    Nothing new in my neck of the woods (Northern Ontario). When the cost of heating oil goes up, my dad just cut more wood. When it went down, he cut less.

    People who want to put “green taxes” on heating oil should understand this. I mean, they are all very smart. He has to fall back on his Grade 8 diploma…

  10. Economic stability disappears with environmental concern

  11. wws says:

    Another alternate title: Environmental concerns disappear when economic stability disappears.

    I think everyone agrees that the title, as it stands, gives the opposite indication as to the point of the post.

  12. wws says:

    You know, next they’ll be telling us that impoverished 3rd world countries have worse environmental records than the developed industrial countries do.

  13. Col Mosby says:

    Apparently one of the reasons for increasng the taxes on heating oil was to equalize its price with diesel fuel so that people would stop selling heating oil as diesel fuel. Apparently “equalizing taxes” always means increasing the lesser taxed article. You know, they could have reduced the taxes on diesel fuel to achieve their goal. But NOOOOOO…….!!!

  14. Tenuc says:

    Not just the third world that depends on wood. I live in rural SE England and for me and my neighbours wood burning is the most cost effective way to heat our homes.

    Heating oil has shot up to unacceptable levels and with no mains gas wood is the only sensible alternative. There is also the aesthetic factor – I don’t think you can beat sitting round a roaring log fire when the snow is lying thick on the ground.

  15. Lance Wallace says:

    Andrew Marvell says:
    December 19, 2013 at 12:03 pm
    +1.
    Think how history would have changed if they had burned that Trojan horse to stay warm.

  16. rabbit says:

    What is it with do-gooders that makes them incapable of seeing more than one move down the chess board?

  17. ossqss says:

    Wood burning is a small worry compared to the mess they have in Greece. They and many other EU countries are all experiencing the failure of a socialist style government. Untenable entitlements abound and there is nobody left to tax or borrow from to pick up the tab.

    Take a close look mighty USA, this is the exact same thing you are blindly heading towards via Obama.

  18. more soylent green! says:

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

    If the basics for survival are uncertain, who has the time, energy or money for non-essentials or luxuries? By no means delude yourself — today’s environmental movement is not only a daydream but also a rich man’s avocation.

  19. ROM says:

    The whole environmental and climate catastrophe movement and it’s infestations of completely irrational do-gooers and “saving the earther’s” has created a vast morass of unintended consequences, nearly all of which finish up as being considerably worse in their effects than the supposed and unproven, hypothesized problems would have ever created themselves.

    Along with all those lists of those innumerable faded and totally wrong predictions of catastrophes to come and destroy life as we know it if CO2 [ due to pure and total ignorance, falsely labelled as "carbon" ] was allowed to increase, perhaps it is time for somebody to start the onerous task of listing all the unintended and usually harmful consequences arising from the past implementation of the numerous “planet saving” actions [ sic] of the “do-gooding” and “saving the earth” eco nuts.

    A list of the suffering and the destruction of wealth and treasure and the destruction of living standards and the immense levels of destruction and damage to the environment and quality of living [ think bio-fuel; wood burning in power generators compared to coal, wind turbines and bird and bat killing, choosing "eat or heat" and etc and etc ] brought about by the do-gooders and the eco-nuts and their “saving the earth” policies would be quite enlightening to most of the public.

  20. Bruce Cobb says:

    The law of unintended consequences always wins in the end. Will they never learn?

  21. rogerthesurf says:

    In my city of Christchurch NZ where we have an earthquake recovery of sorts going on,(Its mostly still theoretical), all building is to meet the strictest CO2 emissions and land is being cleared to protect wetlands (aka swamps) and river banks according to Agenda21. Of course open fires are prohibited and electricity has a habit of failing when you need it most, (cold stormy days & nights). But we are tough here. Just need to keep a great coat in the closet. Mind you part of our government’s rebuild plan is to cram the population from the suburbs into the CBD. When that part of the total rebuild is done, at least we will keep each other warm.

    Cheers

    Roger
    http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.com

  22. Matt says:

    This may be of interest.
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/tree-theft-on-the-rise-in-germany-as-heating-costs-increase-a-878013.html
    Not just poor countries. But the pollution from the people burning wood will be eclipsed I would think by the brown coal to be burned in their many new power stations

  23. Eric Worrall says:

    Supplying more wood might help. Wood burns a lot cleaner in a hot fire with good airflow, but if you are so poor you are trying to conserve wood, you reduce down the airflow, and create a much more smoky fire.

  24. climateace says:

    What a surprise – that any starving person would eat the last surviving Dodo! The question is this: how did Greece get to its Dodo moment?

    It is quite correct that poverty drives people to impoverish their environment further, bearing in mind that the poor generally get the impoverished bits as their share of the environment anyway.

    But It is quite erroneous to argue that the decline in Greece’s air quality suddenly started with some taxes on heating oil.

    Greece has spent the past several millenia treating its environment as infinite source and infinite sump. The net result is exhausted minerals, exhausted, thin soils – including much bare rock, and a sea (shared with others) that is one gigantic over-fished sump. It has to be a sump because water no longer flows out of the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean. The reason for that is that too much water is extacted by too many countries that border the Mediterranean.

    Faced with this decline in resources, Greece has for decades exported its best and brightest young people. The biggest single Greek population is not in Greece – it is in Melbourne Australia, where they have contributed mightily to the Australian economy.

    For decades Greece treated foreign capital as an infinite, pain-free source of spending money and borrowed well beyond what they could pay. As for EEU ‘socialism’, the Greeks treated the ‘rules’ with utter and cynical contempt, systematically fiddling their national budgetary books. The Greek economic crisis was made worse by corrupt patronage politics, crony capitalism and featherbedded state institutions. As for Greek indigenous capital, it simply shifted its base ot other countries as soon as they could no longer screw anything out of the Greek economy.

    Finally, there has been a well-documented and a marked unwillingness to pay taxes of any sort, let alone on heating oil.

    The major direct competitor for tourism is Turkey. The ruins are generally in better nick, the sunshine is the same, the currency is competitive, the tourism infrastructure is competitive, and, by all accounts, the Turks treat tourists with respect.

    What goes round comes round. Taxes on heating oil are the very least of Greece’s worries.

    The take home messages are that we cannot treat the environment as infinite source and infinite sump and that the Greeks, and ourselves, have to live within our social, economic and enviornmental means.

  25. climateace says:

    rogerthesurf says:

    ‘In my city of Christchurch NZ where we have an earthquake recovery of sorts going on,(Its mostly still theoretical), all building is to meet the strictest CO2 emissions and land is being cleared to protect wetlands (aka swamps) and river banks according to Agenda21. ‘

    I thought that the problem being addressed was liquefaction. Basically, the developers got it wrong and built suburbs on wetlands (swamps). With the big earthquake, the substrate liquefied, destroying or damaging the houses and urban infrastructure beyond economic repair. The New Zealand taxpayer is now paying for buying those houses and land and is subsidising the rebuilding of replacement accommodation elsewhere.

    The developers, as they do, got away scot free with their profits.

    But I suppose your theory, that it is a UN Agenda 21 plot might be more correct.

  26. Billy says:

    Gotta love the hysteria!
    Crisis, lung and heart disease, premature ageing, plague and pestilece. Locusts.
    People must be dying by the thousands daily. Soon the population will be reduced and pristine prosperity will ensue. Full employment for grave diggers.
    Was this report pulled from a bodily orofice? Where are the objective observations?
    I think some academics got an expense paid Greek vacation out of this.

  27. _Jim says:

    Smog from wood burning and other sources obscures The Parthenon in this photo. Source: Mediterranean Palimpsest

    No!

    You don’t say!

    WHAT have I been complaining about for the last two or three years (‘smoke’ on days that would otherwise be classified as clear, cold and crisp) as I step out the door of my clean, all-electric house in winter in a ‘modern’ suburb north of Dallas, Texas!!!!!!!!!!!

    .

  28. Jimbo says:

    This has been some time in the making. Other countries are also getting in on the act.

    Der Spiegel – 17 January 2013
    Woodland Heists: Rising Energy Costs Drive Up Forest Thievery
    Germany’s forests have become an attractive target for thieves.

    With energy costs escalating, more Germans are turning to wood burning stoves for heat. That, though, has also led to a rise in tree theft in the country’s forests. Woodsmen have become more watchful.
    ————-
    Greek Reporter – 24 January 2012
    Greeks ‘Fell Trees for Warmth’ Amid Economic Chill
    Rising oil prices and chilly economic times are prompting increasing numbers of Greeks to chop down trees for winter warmth,…
    ————-
    The Mercury – 13 May 2012
    Thefts cut deep
    UNLAWFUL and dangerous tree-felling in forestry areas is fuelling a growing illegal firewood trade, Forestry Tasmaniasays.

    If Europeans in the EU feel the need to fell trees what about someone in Peru or the Central African Republic? Warmth and cooking needs take priority. Would you let your 2 year old child die because you didn’t want to chop of a tree branch? Naaaaah. Neither would anyone else.

  29. Jimbo says:

    Warmists are the biggest bunch of fools I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. They think they can force everyone to use windmills and solar. As long as trees are standing they will be chopped down especially in less democratic or lawless countries with large, pristine forests. There is little they can do about it considering it’s happening on their own doorsteps. FOOLS. Co2 release continues, accelerated by Warmist policies. I predicted this (but it’s buried somewhere on WUWT).

  30. Jimbo says:

    Bob Tisdale says:
    December 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    And they couldn’t see this coming?

    I sometimes wonder. Did they? Are they that dumb? I don’t know but let me give you a scary scenario. You are living in Sumatra with your wife and 3 kids. There is plenty of food but no coal, gas, or oil to use for cooking your food. What do you do?????????

  31. Berényi Péter says:

    Why, biofuel is said to be good for the environment. What is more, they are saving the land from deleterious overforestation. Lung cancer, especially if it is restricted to Greek population and the like, is a small price to be payed for saving the globe.
    /bitter sarc off

  32. Gail Combs says:

    Bruce Cobb says: @ December 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    The law of unintended consequences always wins in the end. Will they never learn?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    They learn very very well and they really do not give a rats behind what happens to the environment. The ‘concern’ is nothing more than a mask for the MSM and useful idiots. Think Al Gore and his very large carbon boot print.

    INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: Convergence, Interdependence, and Divergence

    Finance & Development, September 2012, Vol. 49, No. 3

    …New convergence and strengthened interdependence coincide with a third trend, relating to income distribution. In many countries the distribution of income has become more unequal, and the top earners’ share of income in particular has risen dramatically. In the United States the share of the top 1 percent has close to tripled over the past three decades, now accounting for about 20 percent of total U.S. income (Alvaredo and others, 2012). At the same time, while the new convergence mentioned above has reduced the distance between advanced and developing economies when they are taken as two aggregates, there are still millions of people in some of the poorest countries whose incomes have remained almost stagnant for more than a century (see “More or Less,” F&D, September 2011). These two facts have resulted in increased divergence between the richest people in the world and the very poorest, despite the broad convergence of average incomes.
    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2012/09/dervis.htm

    The goal is to develop a two class system, that is to get rid of the middle class. Maurice Strong said as much when chair at Kyoto. He used these chilling words for the opening session in 1992:

    “….Developed and benefited from the unsustainable patterns of production and consumption which have produced our present dilemma. It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class—involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing—are not sustainable. A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to
    environmentally damaging consumption patterns.”

    This should not come as much of a surprise. The middle class is a rather new development and one not liked by the ruling class since it challenges their power structure. The rise of the middle class was a result of the industrial revolution. It first appeared in the late middle ages with the revival of trade and expanded during the 18th and 19th centuries. Getting control of these mavericks and relieving them of their wealth has been the goal of the ruling classes ever since as shown by Sen. Daniel Webster’s speech.

    This speech of Sen. Webster, during the debate over the reauthorization of the Second National Bank of the U.S. in 1832 shows one of the methods successfully used to reduce the middle class back to poverty as the 2008 financial crisis (and Greece) has illustrated.

    “A disordered currency is one of the greatest of evils. It wars against industry, frugality, and economy. And it fosters the evil spirits of extravagance and speculation. Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effectual than that which deludes them with paper money. This is one of the most effectual of inventions to fertilize the rich man’s field by the sweat of the poor man’s brow. Ordinary tyranny, oppression, excessive taxation: These bear lightly the happiness of the mass of the community, compared with fraudulent currencies and robberies committed with depreciated paper.”
    http://dailyreckoning.com/a-suggestion-of-bankruptcy-part-i/

    Meanwhile the Fed has had the printing press running full out printing up even more “fraudulent currency and depreciated paper” Money supply changes during my life:
    in 1959 was 50.1 billion
    1964 – $54.1 billion
    1974 – $101 billion
    1985 – $205 billion
    1994 – $ 406 billion
    2006 – $808 billion
    2008 – $831 billion
    2009 – $1663 billion
    2013 – $3115 billion
    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/data/BOGUMBNS.txt

    The GDP has not grown to match the growth in the money supply since it has been ~ zero or negative since 1989: http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/gross-domestic-product-charts

  33. _Jim says:

    Eric Worrall says December 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Supplying more wood might help. Wood burns a lot cleaner in a hot fire with good airflow, but if you are so poor you are trying to conserve wood, you reduce down the airflow, and create a much more smoky fire.

    Hence ‘pelletized’ wood stoves which burn a metered amount of wood ..

  34. Policycritic says:

    Last winter, the Greeks cut down and burned 13,500 tons of trees.

    The problem is the Euro. Greece gave up its sovereign currency, the drachma, for a foreign one, the Euro. Same problem with Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, et cetera. Only country that is benefitting from the Euro is Germany.

    Greece cannot denominate its debt in its own currency, like Japan, Great Britain, Australia, or the US. It has to borrow from the bond vigilantes who are extracting huge interest payments and taking their natural resources as collateral. The rich, because of the EU, can move their money out of the country to banks in Germany, or even here. Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, et cetera, are like the 50 states: they can’t create their own currency. They gave up their own sovereignty for that stupid experiment called the Euro.

    By way of comparison, look at Japan. A monetarily sovereign country. Central bank interest rate close to zero, Debt-to-GDP over 225%, hasn’t been able to inflate for 20 years, credit rating below Botswana, yet it’s the third strongest currency in the world, it’s education level is higher than ours, it has universal health care, and a booming export market. And the bond vigilantes can’t touch it because Japan can denominate its own debt in its own currency just like we can.

    Now Italy is in trouble, yet curiously it has the same debt-to-GDP level it had before it joined the Euro and it was doing well. But it has put itself in hock to the bond vigilantes, and can’t pay its bills. Youth unemployment 50% just like Spain and Greece. Horrible situation for all of them. If Italy leaves the Euro, the experiment is over and everyone will be better off because the ECB refuses to help and has imposed austerity. And since there isn’t a government of Europe, there is no overriding elected body that can stem the bleeding.

    That, at least, is the value of our government and central bank. Congress tells the Fed what to do with fiscal policy–it’s supposed to–although Congress has completely abdicated its responsibility since Obama came in and has impoverished Americans needlessly with austerity programs and sequesters.

  35. DirkH says:

    Policycritic says:
    December 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm
    “Now Italy is in trouble, yet curiously it has the same debt-to-GDP level it had before it joined the Euro and it was doing well. ”

    I cannot remember any time in history where Italians were happy with their politicians or the economy, and I know the place since the 70ies. I was in vacation in Italy during the Bologna terror attack in the 80ies. When they had the Lira they complained about inflation and about il tedeschi; and they had a new government every 3 months.

    “But it has put itself in hock to the bond vigilantes, and can’t pay its bills.”

    You mean before the Euro, kind old grannies owned the Italian state’s debt, and since the introduction of the Euro, the kind old grannies sold the bonds to evil unruly kids with sunglasses? Yeah I guess having a currency they can’t devalue has nothing to do with it.

  36. Dave the Engineer says:

    Not surprising. “Environmentalism” was always a luxury good.

  37. pat says:

    POOR, NEARLY 40 MILLION WITHOUT ELECTRICITY:

    13 Dec: Myanmar’s SEA Games host city baffles and delights
    Reforms have swept Myanmar since 2011 with the release of hundreds of political prisoners — including 44 on Wednesday, ahead of the SEA Games opening — the promise of elections, and the opening up of the nation’s straightjacketed economy…
    A 20-lane motorway — eerily devoid of traffic — arcs around the vast, gated parliament complex, while a handful of empty shopping malls and gem shops cater to a presumably wealthy, but strangely absent, elite.
    ***The surrounding countryside remains poor, in a low income nation of more than 50 million people where, according to the World Bank, a quarter of all children are malnourished and three quarters of the population has no access to electricity…
    http://au.sports.yahoo.com/news/article/-/20293901/myanmars-sea-games-host-city-baffles-and-delights/

    SOLUTION? PRAY TELL, HOW WOULD THIS BE FINANCED? OR IS THIS MORE ‘NIGHTMARE’ THAN ‘DREAM’?

    7 Dec: Renewable Dream
    Can wind, sun and hot springs solve Myanmar’s electricity crisis?
    Wind and solar “farms” offer more reliable and less costly alternatives, said London-based BMI.
    Provisional agreements have been signed with Thai and Chinese firms to develop or assess potential to develop both wind and solar power projects in several areas of the country.
    Green Earth Power of Thailand signed a deal with the Ministry of Electric Power to build a 50 megawatt (MW) project at Minbu 300 kilometres north of Yangon…
    Meanwhile the US firm ACO Investment Group of New York signed a deal with the ministry for a 250 MW solar project also in central Myanmar, at Nabu-aing near Mingyan…
    Earlier reports had said Green Earth was planning a much bigger project of 210 MW at a cost of US$275 million.
    No reason for the reduction in size of the Green Power project was given by the newspaper. However, financial difficulties this year have prevented construction of several planned new power plants, the Minister of Electric Power Khin Maung Soe told The New Light of Myanmar in a separate report last week…
    The minister admitted that Myanmar is currently suffering an electricity capacity shortfall of more than 5,000 MW, the worst gap in supply and demand since the country began opening up two years ago.
    Electricity demand is 8,929 megawatts but capacity this year is only about 3,600 MW, the minister said…
    “According to Khin Maung Win [deputy director general of Electric Power under the Ministry of Electric Power], Gunkul and CTG are planning to build wind power plants with a total capacity of 2,930MW and 1,102MW respectively,” said BMI in its assessment of Myanmar’s energy problems…
    http://www.mizzima.com/opinion/features/item/10714-renewable-dream

  38. _Jim says:

    Gail Combs says December 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm
    ..
    The goal is to develop a two class system, that is to get rid of the middle class.

    I rather think it is because they are incompetent and inept. Very incompetent and very inept. No need for deep-rooted con spir acy theories existing on a global basis. When the ‘leaders’ have no knowledge of how things actually work, what do you think the result is? Stupid decision after stupid decision. The very core of competence.
    .
    .
    in·ept – having or showing no skill; clumsy.

    incompetent – Inadequate for or unsuited to a particular purpose or application, Devoid of those qualities requisite for effective conduct or action.

  39. Bob Greene says:

    Come on, guys. Wood is a renewable resource. Burning wood is carbon neutral. All the best green minds say so. Fossil fuels are dirty. Fossil fuel combustion causes climate change. The Greeks have done the absolutely correct thing. They have arbitrarily made renewable energy competitive to dirty fossil fuels and the population has responded by seeing the wisdom of renewable energy and have jumped on the renewable energy bandwagons. And you folks are finding one minor negative aspect, probably cherry picked from all the positives. PM2.5 from renewables is not nearly as deadly as PM2.5 from dirty fossil fuels.

    I’d put a [/sarc] on the above, but the greens and our wise leaders have been touting such carbon neutral policies. It get’s very quiet when you ask silly questions about health/environmental downsides of some of these wonderful policies. The best environmental policy is plentiful, cheap energy, no matter where it is from.

  40. climateace says:

    Bob Tisdale says:

    [I sometimes wonder. Did they? Are they that dumb? I don’t know but let me give you a scary scenario. You are living in Sumatra with your wife and 3 kids. There is plenty of food but no coal, gas, or oil to use for cooking your food. What do you do?????????]

    This is a dumb, scary hypothetical, but here goes:

    If I were a Sumatran, I would be grateful that the Indonesian Government ignores Tea Party-like calls for getting rid of all taxes and all support for the poor.

    I would be grateful that Sumatra is a major exporter of fossil fuel and that Sumatra’s agriculture is thriving due in particular to the final stages of the Green Revolution.

    I would also be grateful that the Dutch colonialists have been kicked out because they sucked the lifeblood out of the colonized Indonesians, and that the times in which the area’s exported plantation commodities were exported while Indonesians were starving to death are long gone.

    If I lived in a tsunami zone and survived the Great Tsunami and received good quality aid from Australia, I would be grateful for that. Further, if I lived in Aceh I would be glad that the latest Aceh insurgency is over and that the islamic fighters succeeded in getting reasonable concessions from the Javanesse Empire in terms of keeping more of the benefits of the province’s resources as well as a reasonable degree of autonomy.

    I would also be grateful fuel for domestic cooking is heavily subsidised by the Indonesian Government.

    OTOH, were I Sumatran fisher, I would be unhappy that the quality of my coral reefs and the associated fisheries are going backwards as a result of heat-related bleaching, over-fishing, dynamite, chemicals, over-fishing and agricultural run-off.

    Perhaps I might even have a niggle at the back of my mind that my expectation that the environment is infinite source and infinite sump is false.

  41. Willis Eschenbach says:

    I couldn’t make sense of the headline either, so I changed it … hope Anthony doesn’t bust me, but it didn’t scan the other way.

    w/

  42. climateace says:

    I have no trouble at all with the concept of using wood as a renewable fuel source. Like all energy sources there are costs and benefits that need to be weighed for economic desperation destroys all real choices. Environmental air quality is certainly a factor in the balance, particularly in areas subject to temperature inversions. Lung cancer is, after all, not a pleasant way to go and the last year or so is extremely expensive in terms of the health costs.

    Common sense would suggest that planting and harvesting regimes are balanced so that the wood-burners don’t destroy their energy source.

    One of the ironies here is that Greece’s current forest extent and carbon storage extent have both expanded significantly over the past couple of decades as they have reforested degraded areas.

    So it is just as well they tended to that bit of their environment and did not piss away all their financial and fossil fuel borrowings on sybaritic lifestyles on the fiscal never never.

  43. climateace says:

    D the E says

    ‘Not surprising. “Environmentalism” was always a luxury good.’

    This may or may not be true.

    What is absolutely indisputable is that the environment is not a luxury good.

  44. _Jim says:

    climateace says December 19, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    … ignores Tea Party-like calls for getting rid of all taxes

    Insertion of a straw-man argument; detracts from your efforts.

    .

  45. _Jim says:

    climateace says December 19, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    and all support for the poor.

    And another; have you heard of, or do you know what a ‘charity’ (literally: a charity organization) is?

    .

  46. climateace says:

    Jim says:

    ‘ climateace says December 19, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    … ignores Tea Party-like calls for getting rid of all taxes

    Insertion of a straw-man argument; detracts from your efforts.’

    The issue I was addressing in Tisdale’s hypothetical was how a Sumatran felt in the context of cooking the food for his/her family. I gave the answer. In that context, fuel costs and the things that might impact them are not Straw Men. They are central.

    There are very active calls in Indonesia now for domestic fuel subsidies to be stopped, and this issue – apart from impacting directly on a Sumatran’s ability to cook his/her food, may well be a determinant in next year’s presidential elections.

    Straw man? Not if you depend on politics for your cooking fuel.

  47. _Jim says:

    climateace says December 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I have no trouble at all with the concept of using wood as a renewable fuel source.

    Works GREAT in a modern city too, where we HAD progressed in previous years the use of wood, several decades of using coal, then we saw ‘fuel oil’ as a heating source, then onto clean-burning natural gas and ****electric**** (IN THE MODERN AGE!)

    Next, we bring back STEAM ENGINES b/c they run on “a renewable fuel source” TOO!!!

    Yay! Climate idiocy all around!!!!!!

    I LOVE THAT SMOKY SMELL ON A CLEAR DECEMBER DAY!!!!!

    (t ‘comes in’ with the clothing worn outside too! An added benny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    .

  48. climateace says:

    Polycritic says

    ‘Last winter, the Greeks cut down and burned 13,500 tons of trees.

    The problem is the Euro. ‘

    Not really.

    Germany has the euro and the eruo is not a problem for them.

    The real problem is that the Greeks borrowed euros and now they have to pay back in euros. So instead of deflating their currency and cheating their lenders, they have to pay back the same value as they borrowed.

  49. climateace says:

    Jim

    ‘And another; have you heard of, or do you know what a ‘charity’ (literally: a charity organization) is?’

    Yes.

  50. _Jim says:

    re: climateace says December 19, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Moving goal posts, dis-avowing/distancing from the contents of a previous post, dodging and weaving to justify the insertion of a nonessential/unneeded element (i.e. the err, the argumentative ‘faux paus’ of a Straw man).

    The question in mind now: A Troll or no?

    .

  51. climateace says:

    Berényi Péter says: CO2 linked to overforestation

    That is a very interesting article. There is little doubt that changing atmorpheric concentrations of CO2 are not only going to affect climate, they will affect ocean chemistray, all sorts of weather events and, of course, all sorts of ecosystems.

    It is good to see that some studies have been done. I have been observing woodland and grassland interactions on- and off- for over five decades. In relation to the particular study, I did a quick scan but noted no reference to fire and changes in herbivory regimes as inputs.

    If fire and herbivory regimes have not been integrated with the studies, then I suggest that the findings should be taken as tentative, at best.

    I accept that it is very highly likely that changing CO2 concentrations will change plant growth significantly but beyond that the future is highly uncertain.

    Grasslands can turn into forests in ways other than responses to atmospheric CO2 concentrations. When land managers tried to conserve US prairie systems by excluding fire, the prairie systems turned into forests.

    When foreingn herbivores where introduced into the Australian rangelands, vast shrublands started to form. One reason: the shrubs were inedible to the introduced herbivores but had previously been controlled by wild fires. The problem was that the introduced herbivores ate all the grasses and forbs. The result was that is no longer sufficient fuel to burn out the shrub layer. (I suspect that mesquite in the US has a similar dynamic).

    Anyhow, we are conducting a one-off gigantic experiment with the planet by putting billions of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Blind faith that all the changes will be good is blind faith.

  52. climateace says:

    jim
    There is no need to get over-excited. You could always just try to discuss the issues in a reasonable fashion.

  53. Wayne Delbeke says:

    Eric Worrall says:
    December 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Actually, depending on your location, I think sustainable burning of wood makes perfect sense. Heating fuel and electricity costs have increased significantly due to “deregulation” where I live. I built my heavily insulated house in 2003 around a large high efficiency masonry fireplace. I heat most of 3600 square feet with wood (six cords or so a year, and I burn excess deadfall in fire pits on summer evenings). Also have water to water heat pump and a fish pond; some supplemental heat from a propane hot water tank when it gets below 30C below and windows designed for winter heat gain. I will never run out of wood. I could run out of grid electricity or propane with little consequence. With a hot fire, the only evidence is a bit of water vapour drifting into the cold blue atmosphere. Probably not good in a population dense area, but when you live 40 km from the nearest town, and 5 km to the nearest neighbour, I doubt there is much of a “pollution plume”. When you live in a province with just 5.5 people per square km wood heating is more than self sustaining. But simple high efficiency wood heat is not a solution for high density populations. Nice thing about rural living, my own wood lot. Get heated 7 times by the same wood – cutting it, splitting it, stacking it, hauling it in to the house to fill the wood box, burning it and hauling the ashes out. Now, with a population density of 90 people per square km, Greece is another matter.

    @ Jim –> Pellet stoves do work well and a lot cleaner than split wood.

  54. climateace says:

    Delbeke
    Sounds ideal to me.

  55. _Jim says:

    Bob Greene says December 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    PM2.5 from renewables is not nearly as deadly as PM2.5 from dirty fossil fuels.

    As another poster pointed out, it’s more than just ‘renewables’ that go into the fire and up the chimney; think anything combustible such as plastics, cardboard (and the glue used), colored wrapping paper from Christmas presents, ‘pallet’ wood, wood siding, plywood (glues and all!), treated woods, other scavenged wood products EVEN THOUGH it is advised against to burn these materials in a domestic fireplace!

    Not everyone, not all nationalities ‘respect’ what may or may not be burnt in a fireplace …

    .

  56. Caleb says:

    Attempts to manipulate the public by tweaking money supplies and other rich-man-games always backfire. The ordinary Joe is not as stupid as those in Ivory towers like to think, nor are those in Ivory towers as smart as they tell the face in the mirror, as they kiss the cold glass in the morning.

    I have worked a lot of grunt work in my time, working beside average Joes, and also have associated with the elite, and chit-chatted at tables with silver spoons and linen napkins. If you were to ask me who is smarter, I would say it is the average Joe, because he knows he isn’t smart, and is just a backbone. The elite, on the other hand, have been blessed, privileged, highly educated, and somehow wind up more stupid than teenagers joyriding in tanks. Why? Because they often opine that a brain without a backbone is a good thing.

  57. E.M.Smith says:

    Hey, I just moved to Florida… No need to burn fuel or trees. At the swimming pool last Saturday, this Sunday supposed to be good sunny pool weather too… 80 F range IIRC. Figured out it stays warm when Thermohaline circ slows and Europe freezes. Summer wasn’t bad either despite car AC being out. I like it :-)

  58. Just Steve says:

    “Overlooked side effect”

    Only by myopic bureaucrats and overeducated nitwits.

  59. anna v says:

    Well, I m Greek and live in Greece.

    The problem for politicians at this moment in time is to get a balanced budget, that is not to spend as a country more than is gathered in taxes, that is the austerity program imposed by the lenders who took us out of bankruptcy in 2010 by lending us an enormous amount of money so as to be able to pay the interests and maturing bonds. Our happy go lucky politicians had , during the period of the fat cows, thought that money grew on the trees and we only had to ask for it.. Now it is the lean cows.

    So the same ( as a class) politicians are trying to get money out of a rapidly diminishing GDP, so rapidly that the percentage of the debt is higher than when the lenders came to the rescue!
    Among the measures to get money they address the problem of tax evasion, and in the case of oil it is this:

    Oil always had a very high tax, but for heating purposes the tax was reduced so that the market price for heating oil was half of that for boats and other uses. This had led to enormous tax evasion, people using heating oil when they should have been getting the high tax oil. Heating oil was always colored artificially but that did not affect the tax evaders.. So they made the price uniform at the high level. This stopped a lot of the tax evasion traffic but also the tax income from heating oil dropped because people stopped using it: they use air conditioners, and fireplaces in apartment houses, wood stoves and fireplaces in houses. Whole apartment buildings have stopped completely the central heat. The tax income in total must be having a positive effect on the budget though, because one believes that they would not keep this high tax up if it were not so. ( of course the troika of the lenders who is in control finally might be stupid enough).

    Of course the practically 30% unemployment and the 50% cuts in the incomes of those who are still employed and of the pensioners, those who central heating before the crisis, is taking its toll in this energy and tax balance account.

    Maybe in ten years we may be back to normal

  60. higley7 says:

    “These fine particles – measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter (approximately 1/30th the diameter of a human hair) – are especially dangerous because they can lodge deep into the tissue of lungs, according to the EPA.”

    Yeah, the EPA. They claim these particles are lethal and then got volunteers to breath 100 strength of what they claim is lethal and nothing happened. They buried results. The EPA is a fraud.

    And, we have cilia and mucus in our lungs to clear out particulates. Unless you are a smoker and destroyed this ability, you will be healthy.

  61. Brian H says:

    anna v;
    Maybe in ten years we may be back to normal

    On the present trajectory, very, very unlikely. Don’t imagine it can’t get a lot worse.

  62. Chad Wozniak says:

    A huge example of un-environmental response to economic difficulties is the denuding of vegetation in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere to use for fuel. Oh, but der Fuehrer tells Ghanaians and people in Soweto that they must use their “bounteous resources of biomass” instead of far cleaner and less destructive fossil fuels. Go figure.

  63. climateace says:

    C Wozniak says

    ‘A huge example of un-environmental response to economic difficulties is the denuding of vegetation in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere to use for fuel. Oh, but der Fuehrer tells Ghanaians and people in Soweto that they must use their “bounteous resources of biomass” instead of far cleaner and less destructive fossil fuels. Go figure.’

    Reductio ad Hitlerum. FAIL.

  64. climateace says:

    Brian H says:

    ‘On the present trajectory, very, very unlikely. Don’t imagine it can’t get a lot worse.’

    Agree. Things get to a certain stage and there are only bad and less bad choices left.

  65. climateace says:

    caleb
    Yep. The elites run the place. How could that happen when they are so stupid?

  66. david eisenstadt says:

    climateace says:
    let me kill this thread.
    and he does.

  67. John Law says:

    The EU and its supporting cast of politicians in the subject nations, are increasingly like uncle Joe Stalin. All this suffering is necessary to enable the glorious EUSSR to succeed. The climate scare is just another useful tool to control the “sheeple”.

  68. DirkH says:

    Caleb says:
    December 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm
    “The elite, on the other hand, have been blessed, privileged, highly educated, and somehow wind up more stupid than teenagers joyriding in tanks. Why? Because they often opine that a brain without a backbone is a good thing.”

    I sympathize with the notion; a lot of the average Joes are more self-reliant than I will ever be, and a lot of the elite really believe their own propaganda messages, i.e. we must save the planet with wind turbines or somesuch.

    BUT you shouldn’t overgeneralize. The strategies are made by a handful of the elite, whose success in clinging to power rests on a very good understanding of all the information available (no, not what goes for information in the media). These people stay in the background most of the time. Kissinger or Maurice Strong come to mind; that type of people; very cunning. Sometimes they make mistakes – like Kissinger as he admitted himself when causing the 1973 oil price shock – and that was a mistake of colossal proportions – but most of the time they just get it right enough to keep control.

  69. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    ““Wood’s cheap, but it’s having a major negative impact on air quality,” Sioutas said.”

    Only if it is burned in crummy stoves and furnaces, often designed to burn something else. If you put some kerosene into your gasoline engine because it is cheaper and you hope to go a little further per $, you may have some smoke to deal with. The Europeans make some of the cleanest biomass burning devices around. That they are not used is no reason to blame ‘wood’ for causing the smoke. All emissions are a combination of three things: the device, the fuel and the operating method. If the result is not to your liking, change one or more of the parameters.

  70. Policycritic says:

    Gail Combs says:
    December 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks for the Maurice Strong quote. I think it was at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, but that’s a quibble. His goal of global governance—he never says directly who is going to be in control, or who he’s working for—was averted at Copenhagen in 2009. Mother Nature isn’t complying with the plan concocted 40 years ago to use global warming as the template for succumbing to all things global. And they didn’t plan on the climate gate leaker and the criminal mortgage bankers waking people up from their sleep and, at least, noticing what was going on.

    Now they’re using the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to get people used to the idea of a global body (and transnationals) with the power to override the laws of any nation, the most pernicious piece of legislation inour country’s history that no one knows about.

  71. Policycritic says:

    Gail Combs says:
    December 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    The figures you cite are the monetary base, not the money supply. The central bank’s assets in 2008 were $800 billion; now just over $4 trillion because of QE. That hockey stick rise after 2010 on the Fed chart you link to is QE. When the Fed purchased those securities, it effectively took the interest income from them out of the economy—to the tune of nearly $100 billion/year–because it must return that interest income by law to the Treasury every year. That has the net effect of making the dollar scarcer (increasing its value not devaluing it) and being a tax on the economy.

    But rather than blame the Fed for doing whatever it is legally allowed to do under monetary policy, the real culprits are Congress who have failed abjectly, despicably, horrifically to enact fiscal policy to fix this mess as is their duty under our Constitution as the only legal entity who can.

  72. Policycritic says:

    Gail Combs says:
    December 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    What should our currency look like if it wasn’t “fraudulent currency and depreciated paper?”

  73. DirkH says:

    Policycritic says:
    December 20, 2013 at 7:02 am
    “But rather than blame the Fed for doing whatever it is legally allowed to do under monetary policy, the real culprits are Congress who have failed abjectly, despicably, ”

    The senate hasn’t made a budget for years as would have been their duty; so for what spending should Congress have made tax laws?

  74. Gail Combs says:

    Policycritic says: @ December 20, 2013 at 7:02 am

    The figures you cite are the monetary base, not the money supply…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That website states: The fundamental concept of the monetary base, or “high-powered money,” is the sum of total balances maintained by depository institutions at the Federal Reserve plus currency in circulation.

    “the sum of total balances maintained by depository institutions at the Federal Reserve” is the amount of money (Reserve Requirement) that allows the banks to lend out more printed out of nothing fiat funny money based on the fractional reserve banking fraud concept. So increasing the monetary base is actually worse that increasing the money supply since it allows the banks to create ten times as much or more debt “money” in the USA. This multiplier factor is why it is called “High Powered Money”
    SEE US Banks Operating Without Reserve: http://www.marketskeptics.com/2009/03/us-banks-operate-without-reserve.html

    Of interest is this from A PRIMER ON MONEY, COMMITTEE ON BANKING AND CURRENCY
    HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
    WRIGHT PATMAN Chairman 1964

    …Furthermore, they [the public] are quite certain that the Federal Reserve System has “used” their money to acquire the Government securities which the Federal Reserve may buy in the process of reserve creation. Believing this, the bankers naturally feel that they are entitled to some share of the tremendous profits which the System receives from interest payments on its Government securities. Many bankers know better. The leaders of the bankers’ associations certainly do. But some of these leaders have not hesitated to play on general ignorance and misunderstanding to mobilize the whole banking community behind drives that are nothing but attempts to raid the Public Treasury.
    The truth is, however, that the Private banks, collectively, have deposited not a penny of their own funds, or their depositors funds, with the Federal Reserve banks. The impression that they do so arises from the fact that reserves, once created, can be, and are, transferred back and forth from one bank to another, as one bank gains deposits and another loses deposits. [pg 37]

    Under Secretary of the Treasury Robert V. Roosa, formerly a Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, while testifying before the House Committee on Banking and Currency in 1960, described the misconception as follows:
    “There is another misconception which occurs much more frequently-that is, the banks think that they give us the reserves on which we operate and that, too, is a misconception. We encounter that frequently, and, as you know, we create those reserves under the authority that has been described here.”
    The writer [Wright Patman] has had a couple of personal experiences which ‘have provided some amusing confirmation of the fact that the source of bank reserves is not deposits of cash by the member banks with the Federal Reserve banks…. having seen reports that the Federal Reserve System had, on a given date, Government securities amounting to a proximately $28 billion, I went on one occasion to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where these securities are supposed to be housed, and asked if I might be allowed to see them. The officials of this bank said, yes, they would be glad to show them to me; whereupon they opened the vaults and let me look at, and even hold in my hand, the large mound of Government securities which they claimed to have and which, in fact, they did have.
    Since I had also seen reports that the member banks of the Federal Reserve System had a certain number of millions of dollars in “cash reserves” on deposit with the Federal Reserve bank, I then asked if I might be allowed to see these cash reserves. This time my question was met with some looks of surprise; the bank officials then patiently explained to me that there were no cash reserves. The cash, in truth, does not exist and never has existed. [pg 38]
    http://famguardian.org/Subjects/MoneyBanking/Money/patman-primer-on-money.pdf

    Tricky devils aren’t they?

  75. DaveG says:

    Here is a tip that works well, quick and easy.

    How to make newspaper logs for your fire – Instructables.com **

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Intro_1/ – Proxy – Highlight

    This instructable shows you how to make a newspaper log in less than two minutes …
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Intro_1/

  76. rogerthesurf says:

    climateace says:

    December 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    rogerthesurf says:

    ‘In my city of Christchurch NZ where we have an earthquake recovery of sorts going on,(Its mostly still theoretical), all building is to meet the strictest CO2 emissions and land is being cleared to protect wetlands (aka swamps) and river banks according to Agenda21. ‘

    I thought that the problem being addressed was liquefaction. Basically, the developers got it wrong and built suburbs on wetlands (swamps). With the big earthquake, the substrate liquefied, destroying or damaging the houses and urban infrastructure beyond economic repair. The New Zealand taxpayer is now paying clearing for buying those houses and land and is subsidising the rebuilding of replacement accommodation Government the offer elsewhere. Utilities would be simple

    The developers, as they do, got away scot free with their profits.

    But I suppose your theory, that government wants their land no matter what.complaining it is a UN Agenda 21 plot might be more correct.

    Climateace,

    The only catch with what you say is that the clearing of the river banks and former wetlands includes undamaged and marginally damaged properties as well. There are worse properties that are not red zoned. On top of that, the Government “offer” includes the proviso that of you don’t accept you will lose all your utilities. Even undamaged properties 10m or less from non red zoned properties (where connection to utilities would be simple should there be technical problems with the current supply) still have to move out. Residents are complaining that the government wants their land no matter what.
    If you look on my blog, you will see the “Christchurch Central. Recovery plan” where on P41 it recites Agenda 21 very clearly. Also I have there government web pages where Agenda 21 is acknowledged and which legislation has been modified to accommodate it.
    Think what you wish of that.

    Cheers
    Roger
    http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.com
    Ps the land in question would have originally been approved for development by the council. The buck stops there on my view.

  77. Neil Craig says:

    In the Hierarchy of Human Needs – starting with air; water; food; shelter … – smoke free environment comes a long way back. The British Clean Air Acts were produced in the 1950s so if that is where the greens are sending us their success guarantees their failure.

    How long before the Greeks decide buying Chinese nuclear reactors are the best way to get their economy growing and eventually passing Germany’s. How long before that would work.If Greece managed China’s 10% growth they would pass Germany in about 14 years.

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