Richard Muller: ‘shale gas technology should be advanced as rapidly as possible’

by Richard Muller, Professor of Physics, University of Califoria at Berkeley

Some oppose shale gas because it is a fossil fuel, a source of carbon dioxide. Some are concerned by accounts of the fresh water it needs, by flaming faucets, by leaked “fugitive methane”, by pollution of the ground with fracking fluid and by damaging earthquakes. 

Although I believe that global warming is real, caused by humans, and a threat to our future, these concerns about shale gas are either largely false or can be addressed by appropriate regulation such as the controversial but ultimately positive developments in Illinois.

Shale gas can not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce a deadly pollution known as particulate matter. Particulate matter is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers, referred to as PM 2.5, are believed to be the most dangerous of these particles as they can lodge deeply into the lungs. Greenhouse warming is widely acknowledged as a serious long-term threat, but PM2.5 is currently harming more people. PM 2.5 is currently killing over three million people each year, including roughly 75,000 in the U.S.

As both global warming and air pollution can be mitigated by the development and utilization of shale gas, shale gas technology should be advanced as rapidly as possible. Environmentalists should recognize the shale gas revolution as beneficial to society – and lend their full support to helping it advance.

Should environmentalists support fracking? Can shale gas limit air pollution? Please share your views.

For more information on this topic, please see my report “Why Every Serious Environmentalist Should Favour Fracking

Source: h/t to Steven Mosher

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73 Responses to Richard Muller: ‘shale gas technology should be advanced as rapidly as possible’

  1. kim says:

    I told moshe yesterday that there are some people whose writings I will no longer refuse to read.

  2. Mark Luhman says:

    There is now seriou study that can point the nonsense the PM2.5 kills 75,000 americans a year. If PM2.5 such a killer the Chinese would be dropping like flies sprayed with insecticide. The study he probably referring to was one Biggs disconstructed, it was done for somc California board so they could justify the imposition of their draconian rules. The commission wanted cover, cover they got, t was certainly was not science!

  3. As someone who has severe lung damage (emphysema), I welcome and support any advance that has the potential to reduce all sizes of particulates. Shale gas (whether fracture drilling is involved or not) strikes me as being a win-win, both for pollution control and energy independence. I seriously question the motives of those against it.

  4. WillR says:

    Particulate matter from NG is of a different nature than coal:

    Particulate Matter –
    Because natural gas is a gaseous fuel, filterable PM emissions are typically low. Particulate matter from natural gas combustion has been estimated to be less than 1 micrometer in size and has filterable and condensable fractions. Particulate matter in natural gas combustion are usually larger molecular weight hydrocarbons that are not fully combusted. Increased PM emissions may result from poor air/fuel mixing or maintenance problems.

    But it’s not zero.

  5. Bloke down the pub says:

    In the UK (and the rest of Europe) we have elections this Thursday. On reading a Green party pamphlet I was suprised to see that they are campaigning against the proposed HS2 rail link. As the major parties are all in favour of the link because they think it strengthens their green credentials, it makes you wonder why.

  6. Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter) says:

    Still doesn’t make him a ‘skeptic.’ Nor does one make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

  7. Latitude says:

    ..and I thought we were confused

  8. Col Mosby says:

    I wonder why he failed to mention the lower carbon emissions from NG? Practically all of the lower
    carbon emissions in the U.S. these days is from the massive switch from coal to natural gas,
    in addition to lower gasoline usage.

  9. Gary Pearse says:

    Since the US is now ahead in reduction of CO2 emissions because of growing use of gas, for one to be against this fossil fuel is to really have another agenda entirely than the environment.

    Skeptics have certainly been suspicious that the environment has nothing to do with the issue among ideo_log_ues who have been the “pipers of Hamlin” in this parade (Maurice Strong – new-world-order inventor, creator of the UN environmental agency as a tool, Soros,….) who cynically attracted (initially well-meaning) scientists into an anti-American (and anti-human) enterprise to kill capit_alism to let the “elite” lead us forward. Scientists who believed there was a crisis are now trapped by personal economic survival and have become less objective in the face of the hiatus in warming.

    This is their one chance, at least those who are not supporting an alternative agenda. My respect for Best has gone up a fair amount – it makes him a concerned person (whether misguided or not). It will go up more when he realizes that real skeptics accept the planet has warmed 0.7C per century. How much is due to man, how much to natural variability, and is it good or bad are the talking points. I’m not encouraged by the growing hysteria and ugly behavior toward skeptics created by a 17yr hiatus in warming that has to be interpreted as natural variation having a much bigger role than thought by CAGW proponents. Praying for a jump and acceleration of global warming after the hiatus certainly isn’t science. This hiatus is falsification of the theory, period.

    Maybe it will straighten out again and resume on average the 0.7C per century. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing. Maybe a bit warmer should be hoped for. Don’t forget, we are in an interglacial (more than half way through), a temporary warm period that makes up only 10% of an otherwise icy climate that has been extant for 2.58 million years in this cycle (Quaternary period). Other similar cycles go back half the earth’s 4.5By history at least. In between these Ice Ages, the planet has warmed such that there were no ice caps (Mesozoic – era of the dinosaurs). I believe a lot of climate scientists over a few decades have learned what geologists have known for more than a century. Instead of embracing this surprising knowledge, they’ve played Whack a Mole with it and taken up revisionism of history. I know Hansen didn’t have a clue about the LIA, MWP, etc until he got into climate science from astronomy.

  10. Bob Greene says:

    There is little, if any, scientific basis for claims of deaths from particulate matter, including PM2.5. Despite Ms. Jackson’s claims before the Senate that PM2.5 was essentially a killer with no safe dose not only can they not show any diagnoses of deaths by PM2.5, it appears after years of stonewalling on “secrete” science on PM2.5, they can’t even produce the data to support their claims.

    In fact, these claims were debunked with real data

  11. Eliza says:

    He has stated clearly that he believes that humans cause warming AT LAST!! He ain’t no skeptic and never was. I respect the man for his non-acceptance of the hockey stick and I think he is well intentioned, but misguided by peers (as usual in the consensus scenes) LOL

  12. Phil says:

    On page 4 of the referenced powerpoint presentation by Bob O’Keefe at the HEI Annual Conference in San Francisco 2013, there is the following statement:

    Ambient particulate matter pollution – Contributes to 3.2 million premature deaths worldwide. (emphasis added)

    There are several different ways of engaging in falsehoods. One can lie outright (i.e. the claim is completely false), one can lie by omission or one can lie by distortion. The latter is the most insidious and I have seen it often in Climate Science where carefully hedged wording in underlying scientific papers is turned into categorical statements in the press.

    In this case, Mr. Mueller you categorically state that:

    PM 2.5 is currently killing over three million people

    while the reference you cite* has substantially different language.

    I respectfully request that you correct your post as there is a meaningful difference between “is currently killing” and “contributes to 3.2 million premature deaths.”


  13. Brad says:

    Take a look at the link on the 3 million number. PPP with a picture of The Lancet, November 2010 where the graph came from. That issue/article is not available for review online?

    Details, details….

  14. Non Nomen says:

    Regulate shale gas fracking with common sense and then go for it. Competetiveness, independence from imports and less pollution are worth it.
    My opinion.

  15. markx says:

    Oh, I dunno …

    Surely it makes more sense to cut trees in the USA, truck them using diesel to a chipping plant (with a huge energy requirement) then load them onto rail cars pulled by diesel powered locomotives and transport them across the country to ports to be loaded on ships powered by bunker fuel to ship halfway around the world to offload at European ports and ship by rail to power stations modified to burn woodchips with one third the energy density of coal …

    …that’s gotta be better … right ?

    … /sarc off

  16. Brad says:

    May 17th climate article in The Lancet.
    “Third National
    Climate Assessment, released on May 6, 2014, by the
    US Global Change Research Program—a product of the
    efforts of more than 300 experts to document the effects
    of human-induced climate change. Rising sea levels, heat
    waves, ice melt, and ocean acidification are just a few of
    the grim harbingers of a planet in flux. Capturing these
    indices and others, the assessment integrates a range
    of observations that give a stark warning of the trends
    over the next decades, but also bluntly points out that
    climate change is already here.”


  17. NikFromNYC says:

    He sure did leapfrog Mann with his own highly parametrized black box hockey stick, after lying about being skeptical instead of an intense anti-carbon activist, even quitting the Sierra Club way back in the 1980s for their opposition to low-emissions nuclear power, for that stated reason.

    After Steven Mosher helps tweak the parameters, they exclaim to the world, oh look, they our “objective” and totally independent method *matches* the new up-adjusted plots from Climategate University and of the smear site partners Cowtan & Way’s Frankenstein data mashup that uses satellite data to up-adjust ground data in a way falsified by that actual satellite temperature data itself, both being mere support crew for the recent 2012 up-adjustment of the standard HadCRUT plot in which Phil Jones includes a Saudi Arabian university as his affiliation.

    The fact remains that two independent satellite plots falsify such up-adjustments that deny recent lack of warming. One would think that these activists would separate their politics from their science and instead *use* satellite data to *calibrate* the thermometer record as well as fully understand the urban heat island effect. That they do *not* do this indicates that we are dealing with junk science due to utter activist bias and reliance of the bulk of their funding on avoiding even slight moderation of alarm.

  18. Zeke says:

    Coal is just fire. If this is outlawed, do not be deceived into thinking that nuclear, or NG, or thorium, or any other process is going to be less regulated and government controlled/distorted.

    And once you accept that coal is dangerous, than you have yielded that any combustion of any kind is harmful and a strictly regulated activity. Don’t do me any favors.

  19. Mark Luhman says:

    John Ratcliffe, I suffer from asthma and I am very allergic to just about everything, cold is one of them. Just holding a cold object is painful and will give me hives. I do not blame my bad genetics on some diesel truck going down the road, or my lung problems on some mythic 2.5m particle pollution, especially since modern times this exposure has drop, we no longer in this country do we heat and cook with wood, if the human race was that sensitive to 2.5M pollution we would have went extinct when our ancestors started to use fire. The best example I have for that is my grandparents whom did heat and cook with wood most of their lives, with the exception of one all live to their eights or mid nineties, none had lung problems. The one whom did at 74 was my grandmother and it was stomach cancer that killed her, unfortunately i inherited so of her same problems I am looking at a 1 in 20 chance of esophageal cancer. Again can’t blame it on environment just the genetic lottery. My father died at 65 due to lung cancer, I suppose I could blame air pollution, but we lived in rural america where the air was clear most of the time, but it more likely the two pack a day Camel cigarette habit. My wife had the same cancer she never smoked, you probably would blame second hand smoke but again, I consider those studies so much junk. My wife’s cancer again is bad genetics both of her parent had cancer her father cancer lead to his death. The funniest thing I have found out about the early and most definitive study about cigarette smoking was the less than 10 cigarettes a day smokers on average outlived the controls. That in itself should blow the 2.5M pollution and secondhand smoke worries right out of the water if 2.5 M pollution was a problem that would not have happen, it would seem that they human body is quit capable of coping with low level of small particles being brought directly into the lungs, unless you suffer from bad genetics. Unfortunately those kind of fact that do not fit a certain political agenda are suppressed, and laws are being passed to outlaw wood stoves and diesel cars in this country based on junk science. For some reason the left hates poor rural people. A large number of poor rural people heat with wood and a small diesel car would save them money driving the distances they have to since they elected to live in rual America.

  20. Pathway says:

    There is no need to regulate fracking because there is no problem with fracking. Without fracking there is no shale gas production. Period. The industry has a very long experience with oil and gas production using hydrolic fracturing and the gov. needs to get out of the way and let the experts produce as much cheap energy as possible.

  21. Steve Oregon says:

    How novel.
    Put real pollution particulate matter ahead of the boogeyman CO2.

    This could be a sign of the advancement of climate science. Or not.

  22. elmer says:

    He’s probably funded by the Koch Brothers.

  23. Phil says:

    Page 91 of your reference* to the proposed fracking rules in Illinois.

    Section 245.620 Rebuttable Presumption of Pollution or Diminution
    a) This Section establishes a rebuttable presumption for use regarding pollution or diminution under Subpart K (Section 1-85(a) of the Act).
    b) Unless rebutted by a defense established in subsection (c), it shall be presumed that any person conducting or who has conducted high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations shall be liable for pollution or diminution of a water supply if …

    A couple of hundred years some very flawed individuals rebelled against what was in many ways a totalitarian government and tried to establish a more progressive form of government that addressed some of the abuses they had experienced. Among them was the concept that someone or an entity is innocent until proven guilty. Having had the experience of trying to prove my innocence repeatedly against a false presumption of guilt, I have a very strong opinion about the importance of this principle. I, for one, would not do business in a state where I would be presumed guilty unless proven innocent. If I was already doing business in that state, I would have to consider the wisdom of continuing to do business there. It seems to me that this provision should be clearly unconstitutional, but challenging that in court is unbelievably expensive and would take many years. In the meantime, one would have to make some sort of business decision. I would question how this proposed regulation is “positive” and how this is supportive of natural gas extraction. The presumption of guilt as a regulation is astounding to me.


  24. Bruce Hall says:

    Why not heavy boots and down outwear in the winter and going naked in the summer? No particulates, no flaming faucets, no water contamination. Stop moving goods on anything other than sailboats. Forage for food. Tell stories for entertainment. Breathe less. There, problem solved; no global warming.

  25. u.k.(us) says:

    So, [you] can have your cake and eat it too.

  26. Steven Mosher says:

    “There is now seriou study that can point the nonsense the PM2.5 kills 75,000 americans a year. If PM2.5 such a killer the Chinese would be dropping like flies sprayed with insecticide.”

    The definitive study on Pm 2.5 actually comes from China and the government is well aware of the problem.

    The study published in 2013 looked at the Huai river area. for 30 years north of the river the government supplied free coal for use in cooking and heating. South of the river coal was prohibited.
    The 250 million people living north of the river had life expectancies roughly 6 years less than those living
    south of the river. Thats the correlation. The causal pathway is also understood. The pm 2.5 particles lodge deep in the lungs and toxins leach into the blood. For example, the pm2.5 particles would leach
    heavy metals (Pb) into the bloodstream

  27. Bruce Cobb says:

    “shale gas technology should be advanced as rapidly as possible.”
    Should be advanced by whom? At whose expense? The correct answer is industry, paid for by industry. But the unfortunate implication is by governement, and paid ultimately by taxpayers. And, as usual, coal gets kicked to the curb, to the huge detriment of ratepayers.

  28. Steven Mosher says:

    “Pathway says:
    May 18, 2014 at 10:24 am
    There is no need to regulate fracking because there is no problem with fracking. ”

    Actually there are problems and industry has addressed them. Hopefully other will learn from the practices in canada and the US.

    Some reading

  29. george e. smith says:

    If PM2.5 kills 75,000 people in the USA each year, where can we find a graph of the number killed as a function of age. If this is a real effect, I would expect it to be most critical in newborns, who have the smallest lungs.

    I imagine that I have about as crummy a set of lungs as anybody, but I am not expecting to drop dead in the street from PM2.5, any time soon.

    What is the method of death from PM2.5 ??

  30. Mike Mellor says:

    Richard A Muller is one of the good guys. He’s definitely not anti-nuclear as a couple of people here have claimed. Read his WSJ article “The Panic Over Fukushima” or go to his web page and read “The Witch of Yucca Mountain.” Go to Youtube and download his video lectures “Physics for Future Presidents.” Download, because you’ll want to watch them over and over.

    He’s a warmist but rabid isn’t in his nature. Please stop the character assassination. That’s an alarmist strategy. Address the facts, not the man, in his articles.

    Oddly enough, sulfur emissions are good for agriculture. If you buy a farm (no not “buy the farm”) get one close to a coal power plant. The sulfur minimizes blights and pests on your crops. I learned that from Frans Malan, founder of Simonsberg wine estate, who grew up in the heavily polluted Ruhr where blights and mildew were almost unknown.

  31. Mike Mellor says:

    George E Smith the preferred method of death from PM2.5 is emphysema.

  32. fhhaynie says:

    I think we shoud use what we have learned with shale fracturing to design methods of in-situe conversion of coal to natural gas that can be distributed through pipe-lines rather than by barge or train.

  33. Kpar says:

    “Mike Mellor says:
    May 18, 2014 at 11:26 am
    Richard A Muller is one of the good guys.”

    Mike, I was impressed by Muller’s non-strident but open acknowledgement of his bias. While I disagree with his basic premise on Climate Change, I am intrigued by his willingness to dispute the wild theories of his more excitable brethren. I have, however, been unable to find his website to read the article you mentioned (I have been quite outraged by the governments’ refusal to open Yucca Mountain, despite the billions invested to guarantee its safety).

    Do you have a link?

  34. Steve Oregon says:

    Muller is making a huge mistake if he thinks he can turn on the Anti-Fracking lunatics and not take any heat.
    They are the same people he’s been spooning with over the AGW movement.

  35. JeffC says:

    “Although I believe that global warming is real, caused by humans”

    Yet another “scientist” taking a faith based view of AGW … nice resume there by Muller but if he really believes AGW then he’s no scientist … he’s a bird of a feather with all those that think nuke power is safe, GMO’s are safe and vaccines do not casue autism … they follow the real scince in those three subjects then ignore the sloppy or fraudulent “science” around AGW.

    Every wonder why ? Its all about the massive amount of money in AGW … he’s terrified of being labeled a skeptic and seeing AGW funding reduced for Berkeley … even though he’s not a climate witch doctor …

  36. Mike Maguire says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    “The definitive study on Pm 2.5 actually comes from China and the government is well aware of the problem”
    I’m familiar with that study and others related to the air pollution problem in China. It’s hard to over state the significance of their air pollution problem. It’s for real. I won’t dispute the estimated numbers for premature deaths there or in the US, especially, since I used those stats in an article I wrote a year ago.(they seem high for the US). The main objective of that article was to hammer home the difference between real pollution and CO2.
    We know that breathing ambient levels of CO2 have resulted in 0(zero) deaths in all of human history vs XXXXXXXX number of (premature) deaths from legit pollution, which is what we should be focusing on.

    It’s quite pleasant to read about fighting real pollution for a change.

  37. Anna Keppa says:

    Steven Mosher: granted that unregulated use of coal generates huge amounts of disease-causing particulates. But what about the phrase, “the poison is in the dose”? What epidemiological basis exists for the claim that tiny concentrations of soot particulates “cause” anything? Where’s the study offering iorn-clad evidence of that?

  38. Anna Keppa says:


  39. Chad Jessup says:

    Bravo for Mosher’s coherent postings. Thank you!

    One matter with the Chinese investigations concerning the inverse correlation between elevated PM 2.5 levels and longevity I would like to see addressed more definitely is the cause and effect issue, so that this problem does not travel the same road as CAGW/CO2 agenda.

  40. Phil says:

    PM2.5 is a perhaps misleading metric. It includes all particles under 2.5 microns (2.5 x 10^-6) in size. However, particles almost 1000 times smaller (in the nanometer (10^-9 range) may have a greater effect on health than larger particles. Please see the rest of my comment here.

  41. Randy says:

    I do not buy the claims of the C in Cagw AT ALL. I studied this topic to better PROVE it to people until I realized the holes in the claims had more weight then the (lack of) data backing the claims.

    That said… I think nuclear is absolutely insane for us to use. Thorium or other things that cannot melt down arent perfect either but I can mostly accept those.

    I think deep sea drilling is also utterly insane.

    what happens if a MASSIVE earthquake, tidal wave, maybe a metoer hits along a coast with all those deep sea well, enough to really shift the ground and break them?? I understand this isnt terribly likely, but it could indeed happen and if it did, holy cow it could make the myth of agw in its most extreme form look like a joke.

    With nuclear look at all of them in ohio for instance along a river that historically DOES flood albeit rarely well beyond what it would need to cover several nuke plants. Several other nuke plants in precarious positions as well. And… well japan literally highlights the points Id make here, something totally unexpected but guaranteed long term devastated them.

    so… THORIUM damn it!!! it has issues to, but shouldnt lay waste to large tracks of earth if something goes terribly wrong…. put the politics down people.

    I said all that to say that, Im not really a fan of fracking either, but its 100 times better then deep sea drilling imo. atleast any potential issues are somewhat contained.

    I hold out hope no major geological events happen to a coast with deep wells or close to a bunch of nuke plants before weve moved onto tech that could devastate so much so fast, and so easily if something went wrong well out of our control. THORIUM PEOPLE!!! THORIUM!!!

  42. Mike Maguire says:

    This study was obviously done some time last year, as the price of natural gas has rising from that stated, $3.5 to $4.5. This is still cheap compared to other countries.

    However, the days of $3.5 and lower priced natural gas may be behind us. This last Winter, we used a record amount of natural gas for residential heating.
    Supplies went from a big surplus and near record in storage at over 3.8 Tcf(Trillion Cubic Feet) down to precariously low supplies, lowest in 11 years close to .8 Tcf(800 Bcf).

    Extreme and sustained cold in the heating intensive, high population centers of the Midwest and East from November thru March was responsible.

    This caused extreme price spikes, especially in January, made much worst by freeze offs:

    The extreme cold this last Winter may or may not happen again during the next decade( I believe we will see several frigid Winters at least rivaling last WInter) but barely having enough natural gas, with storage starting so high is reason in itself to ramp up production and storage.

    Obama is determined to shut down coal fired power plants. This means less power for electricity needed for residential heating, increasing our dependency on natural gas……and using more of it……so not increasing supplies and storage could leave us vulnerable to high price spikes and shortages.

    Using less coal and more natural gas, will necessarily cause natural gas price to go higher, possibly much higher if we have a hot Summer(resulting in high AC demand for electricity generated by natural gas) and can’t inject enough natural gas to rebuild supplies before next heating season.

    Another cold Winter will also likely keep prices high.

    Fortunately, higher prices will make it more profitable for the natural gas industry, which will respond with more supplies(and much higher profits for them).

    The negative factor which is not going to be avoided, is higher to much higher prices for consumers/businesses for natural gas and electricity.

    I am glad to see this discussion on real pollution. Should we shut down more coal right now, after coal, natural gas and nuclear combined, BARELY got us thru this last WInter?
    Should we focus more on developing cleaner coal technologies?
    After all, the US has something like 250 years worth of power generating coal in the ground.

    If natural gas can replace coal without it causing a huge, permanent price increase to natural gas, to consumers/businesses and our economy and/or be capable of keeping up with the increase in demand 365 days a year(coal generated power/electricity does not have freeze offs from sub zero cold)……then, go for it.

  43. cwon14 says:

    He’s such a poser, worse than Dr. Curry and they both play both sides like a violin.

    This is where skeptics looking for friends go to die. He’ll contradict or offset this statement in a very short time.

  44. Tom J says:

    Steven Mosher
    May 18, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I may not agree with you on a number of things but I suspect in an argument with you that you would probably win. Perhaps not all the time though.

    Over time I’ve developed quite a bit of respect for your even keel and acquisition of information.

  45. Tom J says:

    John Ratcliffe
    May 18, 2014 at 9:16 am
    ‘As someone who has severe lung damage (emphysema), I welcome and support any advance…’

    Best wishes to you sir. I have it too. May I be so bold as to advise being careful about what the doctors tell you. Thus far I have more than doubled the life expectancy one doctor gave me. Oops, that’s two doctors. Emphysema is like any other disease; an antagonist that requires a gallant antagonist to combat it. I’ve bookmarked your blog. You’re well informed.

  46. Steven Mosher says:


    “Steven Mosher: granted that unregulated use of coal generates huge amounts of disease-causing particulates. But what about the phrase, “the poison is in the dose”? What epidemiological basis exists for the claim that tiny concentrations of soot particulates “cause” anything? Where’s the study offering iorn-clad evidence of that?”

    I find it interesting that people ask for iron clad. There is no iron clad in science. Not happening. EVER. you will always have uncertain, incomplete and potentially wrong information. If you want iron clad, do math 2+2=4 is iron clad. e=mc^2, well that our best understanding, could be wrong.

    But Lets look at the study in question and change a few things.

    For 30 years imagine the US government had High taxes east of the mississippi and no taxes
    west of the mississippi. Or Gun control east of the river and no gun control.

    Then imagine you found this:

    East of the mississippi where there were higher taxes imagine we found higher unemployment;
    West, lower unemployment. Would you ask for Iron clad? or would this data be enough to
    convince you that lower taxes were better?
    If east of the mississippi with gun control there were more home invasions than west of the mississippi with no control would you ask for iron clad? would you doubt? or would this be reason
    enough to conclude that gun control was bad for preventing home invasion.

    In the study for 30 years coal was freely burnt north of the river and prohibited south of the river.
    Life expectancy was lower in the north.

    If you knew this would you move? If you knew this would you ask for Iron clad?

    Simple question really. would YOU act on this knowledge, this uncertain scientific knowledge?
    If you wanted to move and the government said NO would you complain?

    Now, to your question about “tiny” doses. That’s a good question. Suppose your sister had 5 drinks a day and died from liver cancer. Would you suggest to your children that 5 drinks a day
    was ok because nobody showed that teaspoon a day was no threat?

    The data we have shows this: PM2.5 is linked to decreased life expectancy. How much is safe?
    I dunno, how many cigarettes a day is safe? My moms 78 and smoked. of course dad died at 62 and smoked. Since PM25 is linked to decreased life expectancy and we have good evidence about how this happens ( toxins leaking into the blood stream) chances are its a good thing to reduce Pm25.

  47. Steven Mosher says:

    More Muller

    “Fracking does not require fresh water; it can be done using brine, and brine is available at most locations where fracking is done. The US is gradually switching away from fresh water; we discuss this in our “Why Every Serious Environmentalist Should Favor Fracking” article.

    A comment about passing the tipping point. Skeptics are often criticized for ignoring the science, even when there is a “clear consensus” that global warming is real and caused by humans. We should be equally critical of other departures from the consensus. Sometimes they are correct, but they demand the burden of proof. I am referring here to Mr. Berry’s statement that “we may have passed a tipping point.” I don’t believe we have, and I also believe that the scientific consensus is that we haven’t. That doesn’t mean that an occasional scientist won’t mention his worry about a tipping point … but that does not mean that science has established any such point. Many of the tipping points that have been discussed in the past are now widely discredited. For example, Wallace Broecker, who worried us about the overturning of the thermohaline circulation, later concluded that the threat was not real. “

  48. I glanced at the EPA document that comes up with the estimate of 75,000 deaths due to fine dust. It is a well-intended effort, but I do have some issues with it.

    Firstly, they correlate the dust densities measured in 2005-2007 with incremental mortality in that period. However, when fine dust kills, it kills slowly; therefore, for the deaths in that period, it would be much more relevant to look at the dust load 20-40 years back. (That’s one of the few things I still remember from med school long ago. ) I’m not up to speed on recent US environmental regulations, but I would guess that the amounts of dust then were substantially higher than today, and that the impact of the current amounts would accordingly be overstated.

    Secondly, and more fundamentally, what does a number of 75,000 deaths really mean? We all have got to die of something, some time. A more relevant measure would be, how many years of life expectancy have been lost? The answer might be somewhere in the report, but it didn’t leap out at me when I sifted it.

  49. rogerknights says:

    Improvements in fracking are increasing well productivity.

    Super fracking (new fracking technology that’s in the pipeline) promises at least a 50% increase in well productivity, a 50% cut in drilling costs, and a 50% cut in water use.

    Solazyme’s new Encapso drill-bore lubricant promises to cut horizontal well-drilling time substantially (and reduce use of less environmentally friendly lubricants):

  50. Anna Keppa says:
    May 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm
    Steven Mosher: granted that unregulated use of coal generates huge amounts of disease-causing particulates. But what about the phrase, “the poison is in the dose”? What epidemiological basis exists for the claim that tiny concentrations of soot particulates “cause” anything? Where’s the study offering iorn-clad evidence of that?

    Excellent question. The EPA report states that there is no clear picture or consensus on this point, but it is noteworthy that the report itself uses an exponential relationship, that is, the adverse health effects grow exponentially with the amount of dust particles. This would suggest that effects observed under extreme conditions like those in China don’t tell us much of anything about the risk that prevails in a typical Western country with proper environmental control measures.

  51. Zeke says:

    “Particles less than 2.5 micrometers, referred to as PM 2.5, are believed to be the most dangerous of these particles as they can lodge deeply into the lungs. Greenhouse warming is widely acknowledged as a serious long-term threat, but PM2.5 is currently harming more people.”

    Any one care to list all the other sources of particulate matter 2.5?

  52. Mike Maguire says:

    “This caused extreme price spikes, especially in January”

    I should note that price volatility and spikes higher, continued well into February, with a top put in(2-24-14) just prior to the expiration of the front Month(at that time, March natural gas).

    I’m thinking that was at well over $6 for the front month/March contract, almost double the price it was trading at to start November 2013. This is when weather models started picking up on the big pattern change to cold, a week before it kicked in.

    After the late Feb top, we saw a drop to under $4.3 by early April. Priced bounced from there to just above $4.8 in late April and have dropped to around $4.4 right now.

    This is the injection(storage refill) season. There is a very long way to go to get anywhere close to full storage by late Oct/early Nov. We are 895 bcf(billion cubic feet) under storage last year and last year’s Summer was cool, which meant less natural gas demand to generate electricity for air conditioning.
    From now until early November, we have a potential 25 weeks of injections. To get back at the level we were at, nearly full in early November of 2013, we would need weekly injections to average almost 36 bcf higher vs the prior year.
    That is impossible. Obviously, we can take it out much faster in the Winter than we can put it back in the rest of the year.

    Not sure what market expectations are but a hot Summer, with absolute certainty, will cause some big price spikes and result in sustained high natural gas prices.
    These will be getting passed on to consumers and businesses(industrial demand) as the year goes on.

    A hot Summer means $5+, maybe $6+ if hot enough. Another cool Summer like last year or especially like 2009 could result in making up over half the storage deficit vs 2013 and keep prices well under $5. I believe we have enough increasing supply to pressure prices well under $4, best case scenario with a 2009 type Summer.

    When storage is as low as we have currently, anomalous temperature scenario’s have greater potential to move prices up or down.

    Again, natural gas storage for this current week, is the lowest in 11 years(2003).
    What’s interesting is how low prices really are considering this. 6 years ago, for instance, with storage at 500 bcf HIGHER than what they are now, prices were double current prices.

    Why would prices be much LOWER, when storage is LOWER?

    Shale gas and massive production that the market knows is there.

  53. Bob says:

    Most of the reports of flaming methane in their water supply is caused by people drilling water wells and not reporting them, or having them tested. This has been a long standing problem in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania and New York state. According to one study (American Society of Petroleum Engineers), up to 20,000 unregulated (illegal?) water wells per year are drilled in that area.

    Fracking in and of itself will not cause problems with the shallow water deposits, or leak methane into water supplies. The water tables are usually not much over 1000 ft below the surface, and fracking usually takes place a mile or two beneath the surface.

  54. Joel O'Bryan says:

    Similar arguments can and have been made concerning the need for more modern nuclear power.

    That argument and $4 will get you a latte at Starbucks. But that about all.

  55. john robertson says:

    So based on the wisdom of the self styled sceptic Muller, we can expect mass human die offs in China and next to every major desert?
    So there should be massive differences in life expectancy between dusty regions and jungle environs.

  56. nigelf says:

    Closing down coal generation is an ideological argument. The fact remains that we have a couple of centuries worth of coal and it’s a cheap stable fuel supply for power plants. To try and make it up by burning more natural gas is short-sighted. It will cause NG prices to rise as these plants use huge amounts every hour that used to be used by individual households.
    Keep burning the coal and leave the gas for homeowners and chemical industries. Coal is a hell of a lot cleaner now than it used to be and comparisons to China with their old and dirty technologies aren’t a good comparison. Much more good comes from cheap coal fired electrical generation than bad. Life is full of choices and risks. I’ll take the risk of a theoretical shorter life for a better economy and cheaper electricity during my lifetime any day of the week.

  57. Gary Pearse says:

    Mike Maguire says:
    May 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    “This caused extreme price spikes, especially in January”

    Mike, one factor was the frac sand supplies fell short because of the cold, particularly in Wisconsin and Minnesota and a few other northern midwest states.

  58. Gail Combs says:

    GEE, why am I not surprised?

    As I said a few years ago Muller has a consulting business where one of the the TEAM at Muller Assoc. is “former” Shell Oil President, Marlan Downey, Oil and Gas Executive…

    The whole CAGW scam has been about getting rid of the competition – COAL.
    A short old comment on the subject is HERE.

  59. Zeke says:

    What are all of the other sources of PM2.5 the EPA wants to regulate?

  60. bushbunny says:

    In Australia there is a big campaign to stop CSG mining on agricultural land. And I tend to agree with the campaign. In Australia there is a legislation that if one is a freeholder of land, the government has the right to come in and use exploration followed by mining. The farmer has no say in it. Our artesian water is not renewable. [Our] water tables are expansive in some areas but can be contaminated. I feel if they do give farmers the right to say ‘yay’ or ‘neh’ if they want to mine on their properties, then it’s up to the farmer. Not the mining companies. Is this the same in the US and UK?

    [CSG = C???? Shale Gas? Mod]

  61. Doug Badgero says:


    What we know is that relatively large concentrations of PM2.5 particles impact lifespan. Any attempt to apply a linear no threshold model to these impacts will certainly result in the wrong answers. Nothing in biology is linear…no dose impact…ever. Is it worth further research? Sure.

    To pretend that these questions don’t matter to science and public policy is damaging to both science and public policy.

  62. Phil says:

    @ Anna Keppa (May 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm )

    From Lim et al. (2012) A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010:

    Pg. 14 under “Results”:

    Quantification of risk factors in this analysis represents the effects of each individual risk factor, holding all other independent factors constant. The effects of multiple risk factors are not a simple addition of the individual effects and are often smaller than their sums,156 especially for cardiovascular diseases, which are affected by several risk factors (eg, table 2). The sum of the individual effects of just the metabolic risk factors at the global level is 121% and the summation of all the risks is greater than 400%.
    (emphasis added)

    This means that one cardiac mortality becomes 4 cardiac deaths by attribution to different risk factors, if I understand this correctly. Deaths from cardiovascular disease are one of the biggest components of the PM2.5 death estimates. If I have understood this correctly, then it would be appropriate only to say that PM2.5 contributes to 3 million deaths per year.

    With respect to the Chinese study, Chen et al. 2013, the levels of all PM are about 552 μg/m^3 in the North and about 355 μg/m3 in the South or about 46 times and 30 times, respectively, the new limit of 12 μg/m^3 in the US. I have been in cities outside the US where you could not see across the street and levels of PM that high have to be very unhealthy, so I am not minimizing the issue. But the difference in concentration is so great between the Chinese study and the US that the applicability of that study to US levels is questionable.

    Further according to Lim et al. (2012) on page 12:

    The relation between concentration of small particulate matter and risk of disease is probably non-linear.132,133

    The sources referenced are:
    132 Pope CA 3rd, Burnett RT, Turner MC, et al. Lung cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality associated with ambient air pollution and cigarette smoke: shape of the exposure-response relationships. Environ Health Perspect 2011; 119: 1616–21.

    133 Pope CA 3rd, Burnett RT, Krewski D, et al. Cardiovascular mortality and exposure to airborne fi ne particulate matter and cigarette smoke: shape of the exposure-response relationship. Circulation 2009; 120: 941–48.

  63. gymnosperm says:

    Muller is a strange bird. He tallies an enormous amount of data that corroborates what everyone already knew, that the planet has warmed until recently, and somehow in his mind construes the sheer mass of data as a new indication that the warming is human? Before he amassed the data he thought it might not have warmed?

    To his credit he makes very rational and unpopular recommendations if you accept the thesis that a serious amount of warming is human.

    Seems like another initial conditions problem…

  64. Steve in Seattle says:

    NO use for this man, or anything he says or does.

  65. bushbunny says:

    Moderator CSG is coal seam gas. This is the concern in Australia. And as far as I know our subsurface aquifers are used but considered fresh enough for stock and irrigation.

  66. fred says:

    The world economy has been burning all energy sources as rapidly as possible. We must ride the wave of infinite economic growth. Why should shale gas be any different? I haven’t heard of anything slowing shale gas technology. Why not advance clean coal technology as rapidly as possible?

  67. Chris Wright says:

    Muller is often portrayed as a person who was originally a climate sceptic, but who became a believer. I think he was always a believer. However, he made scathing remarks about Mann’s hockey stick, calling it ‘an artifact of bad mathematics’ or something similar. Of course, it’s perfectly possible to subscribe to AGW or even CAGW and still be capable of recognising bad or even fraudulent science.

    I’m baffled as to why Muller thinks the warming is a threat to humanity. History shows that mankind always prospered during the warm periods and suffered during the cold periods. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the IPCC forecasts are hopelessly exaggerated. If any more warming occurs during this century (and even that isn’t certain) it will probably be small and, as some research shows, will almost certainly be of net benefit to humanity.

    Muller is wrong, just as he turned out to be with his Nemesis hypothesis.
    Sadly, I’ve lost some respect for Muller, but his book, Nemesis, is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it.

  68. john karajas says:

    Exploring for CSG may involve accessing shallow coal seams which are in communication with near-surface aquifers (but sometimes CSG exploration attempts to extract gas from deeper coal seams well away from the surface).

    Shale gas or shale oil extraction, however, is aimed at shale beds deeper than about 1,500m and these beds are NEVER in communication with shallow groundwater. If the cement jobs on the casings of shale or shale oil wells are done properly, then there should never be an effect on the near-surface groundwater. What is potentially a problem is the theft of cement, as in the old Soviet Union, with the result that poor cement jobs can result in messy consequences. Nasty old capitalism is less likely to experience such bad consequences than noble socialistic regimes (sarc.)

    So, bushbunny me old cobber, please don’t confuse shale gas or shale oil with CSG (as it is known in Queensland) or coal bed methane (as it is known in the USA where the technique was developed well before it ever took off in Queensland and the CSIRO came up with the bullshitty term “CSG”).

    The USA has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions as well as producing substantially more natural gas at a cheaper price due to the widespread drilling and fraccing for shale gas. Shale gas is mostly methane and comes from geologically tight formations but otherwise is no different from natural gas that is produced from permeable formations such as sandstone or limestone. Fraccing has been around as a technique used by the oil industry since the 1940’s and has been extensively used all over the place with minimal effects to farm houses, etc, etc, etc.

  69. bushbunny says:

    Thanks John, (me old cobber? Only a term for men LOL) when I hear the name fracking I assume they are both similar or the same processes used.

  70. john karajas says:

    Hi bush bunny you grouse sheila! (Sorry about the wrong gender identification).

    The term “fracking” is oil industry slang for hydraulic fracturing whereby water is pumped into formation surrounding the well bore under high pressure and is accompanied by sand proppant (to keep the induced fractures open) as well as specialised chemicals. The technique has been used to render “tight” formations more permeable since the 1940’s and is, by no means, confined only to CSG (or as our American cousins would call it “coal bed methane”) or in “shale gas” production.
    Fracking is the name of the technique and experience shows that it is pretty harmless to the near surface with the exception where you have gassy coal seams very close to the surface and use of the technique can affect shallow ground water that supplies agriculture.

  71. drumphil says:

    Gail Combs said:

    “GEE, why am I not surprised?

    As I said a few years ago Muller has a consulting business where one of the the TEAM at Muller Assoc. is “former” Shell Oil President, Marlan Downey, Oil and Gas Executive…

    The whole CAGW scam has been about getting rid of the competition – COAL.
    A short old comment on the subject is HERE.”

    Yet Anthony’s association with the Heartland Institute doesn’t prove anything about him. Seems like a selective application of that logic to me.

  72. bushbunny says:

    owyagoin me old mate Johnno, LOL. Well what I sympathize is with the farmers on whose land this will be fracked if they go ahead. The current legislation states they have no say in it. One company that is being involved said they could provide NSW with 25% of its energy. However, this is not completely true, they are selling it overseas.

  73. bushbunny says:

    Armidale NSW had a gas generating station before it had electricity. Piped to the older sections of town until a few years ago, when the site was sold to Centro, and all piped gas ceased and replaced by cylinder gas. But the old gas fires, I was allergic to them, and could not work near them. But it is now more expensive if you use it for heating. Cooking stoves don’t seem to use a lot. They use it in Canada though, and it is expensive I believe.

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