Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bill Maher: "There is no such thing as clean coal"

On November 16th, 2012 during episode 267 of Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill Maher made the following assertion:

 "There is no such thing as clean coal"
Maher is right. He dropped this bombshell while expertly executing one of his trademark comedic rants, this time about America's energy future. He chided the clean coal euphemism and furthermore insisted that President Obama no longer kiss the asses of the coal industry.

Despite the purported war on coal the Romney campaign accused Obama of during the presidential election, he does have a history of puckering up to backers of coal.

Jeff Briggers of the Huffington Post railed the president, rather unapologetically, to stop backing clean coal permits in areas like the Powder River Basin and Appalachia because coal kills both people and the environment. These permits are part of a plan the president laid out in a 2011 state of the union address where he said that all energy sources needed to be considered in the nation's energy future.

But clean coal was not always part of the president's game plan. Obama has always supported green energy sources, such as wind, solar, and nuclear energy, but only added a section in his energy plan about clean coal after a firestorm of criticism from republicans, who consider him anti-coal.

Obama was only anti-coal when it was called dirty-coal, yet is pro-coal when it is called clean coal. The problem is this-all coal is dirty coal.

His apparent flip flop on coal shows that Obama knows clean coal is a myth. Bill Maher also knows it. They know it because facts show the words 'clean' and 'coal' to be inherently contradictory.

The best example of this contradiction is the regulation recently enacted by the EPA on carbon dioxide emissions for newly constructed power plants. The regulations cap the maximum allowed CO2 levels so that they not exceed 1000 pounds per megawatt-hour of electricity. This is crippling to the clean coal industry because most plants simply cannot get their levels below that mark. The EPA's regulations are not too stringent . The coal is just far too dirty. The following charts put the numbers in perspective.

Power source life-cycle emissions GHG Emissions per kWh

Truly clean sources of energy that Obama has always supported emit exponentially less co2 than even the cleanest of clean coal. The numbers show that coal emissions are about 70 times higher than that of wind, solar, hydro or nuclear. It is about 10 times higher than all of the real green energy sources combined. To call it clean would be like calling a hummer fuel efficient because it has fuel efficient tires.

Obama flip flops on coal because of the lie disseminated by the coal industry that coal could ever be called clean. Until the public is told the truth, he will have to continue his political dance between championing green energy sources and relenting to pressures from the coal industry.

Side note: also in this episode, Michael Moore bolstered a claim I address in an earlier post that a disproportionate amount of the money generated in America is in concentrated in the blue(democratic) states and supports red(republican) states.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Andrew Sullivan is right to point out republican hypocricy regarding federal spending

On this week's Real Time with Bill Maher episode, first airing November 9th, 2012, Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast dropped a bomb that I cannot believe turned out to be true.His charge- Republicans are hypocrites.

Sullivan said that the government's federal funding disproportionately subsidizes republican (red) states. And crazy as it seems, he is right. The party of personal responsibility also turns out to be the party of government welfare.

These would be the same red states that supported Mitt Romney, who famously complained about government dependency in a secret tape to a room of wealthy campaign donors, and who, as fate would have it, was overwhelming supported by that very same 47 percent he so condescendingly trounced. Here are the facts:

Below are two maps showing two key pieces of information. The first map shows the electoral college results for the 2012 presidential election with the 10 states that received the most federal funding in 2000 shaded in pink lines. The second map shows  the states that received the most federal funding in 2010 on the same electoral map and similarly shaded:

top 10 federally funded states in 2000
top 10 federally funded states in 2010

These maps reveal that the republican party is dominated by states that are dependent on the government. Republicans won 8 out of 10 states in the 2012 election that took the most federal money in 2000 and 6 out of 10 states that took the most federal money in 2010.

Yet this is the same party that vows to eliminate all entitlements, shrink the size of government, and make that freeloading, government dependent, lazy 47 percent of America take responsibility for their own well being. Well, I hate to break it to ya, republicans, but that 47 percent is also the voting base you rely on every election cycle.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Margaret Hoover dismisses measures to reduce climate change

This week on episode 265 of Real Time with Bill Maher, which first aired on November 2nd, 2012, CNN contributor Margaret Hoover made the following statement about climate change:
"[According to] the U.N. Climate Control Panel(IPCC)...if we do many many things and have India and China go along with us, then maybe in 100 years temperatures will change 1 degree, and then that could change weather patterns potentially"
She used this supposed fact, and her dismissive emphasis on the word 'potentially', to question the idea that policies to prevent climate change have meaningful impact and ought to be implemented by following administration.

Bill Maher immediately shot back, expressing his skepticism about the fact because he had never heard it before. Neither had I. So I investigated the claim and came up with nothing that explicitly supports Hoover's claim, although that is not to say it doesn't exist. What I did find was a potentially contradictory IPCC statement.

The website reports that the panel expects average global temperatures to rise by 2-15 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, before the supposed 100 year time frame of Hoover's claim. NASA's climate website suggests similar numbers. This fact is very damaging to her claim. It suggests that global temperatures will gradually manifest throughout the century, not begin its ascent at the end of the century.

It is worth noting that the website cites the panel admitting that effects of climate change will not be manifest for 100 years. Perhaps this projection is the evidence behind Hoover's claim. What she might have meant was that complete global compliance could help global temperatures rises come in under the IPCC projections.

All in all, I find no factual support for the claim, but I would be hesitant to call it a outright lie. Maybe the supporting information is out there. And if it is, I would love to be pointed in its direction