US Railroads in the Lead on Climate Change Denial

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jis

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While some in the rail industry tout the environmental friendliness of railroads, in actuality the major US railroads have been in the vanguard of climate change denial.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/12/freight-railroads-funded-climate-denial-decades/603559/?utm_term=2019-12-13T17:43:49&utm_content=edit-promo&utm_campaign=the-atlantic&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR3IagW9JBlJ16TDYoKuI19K7_AE6JAYcgdvoCwLmFf2_jsSw46tZE4tbU0

Amtrak is stuck in the middle of this two facedness, so in spite of its best efforts its attempts to become more environmentally friendly may be thwarted by the hosts it is forced to operate on.
 
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MARC Rider

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While some in the rail industry tout the environmental friendliness of railroads, in actuality the major US railroads have been in the vanguard of climate change denial.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/12/freight-railroads-funded-climate-denial-decades/603559/?utm_term=2019-12-13T17:43:49&utm_content=edit-promo&utm_campaign=the-atlantic&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR3IagW9JBlJ16TDYoKuI19K7_AE6JAYcgdvoCwLmFf2_jsSw46tZE4tbU0

Amtrak is stuck in the middle of this two facedness, so in spite of its best efforts its attempts to become more environmentally friendly may be thwarted by the hosts it is forced to operate on.
This is so obvious that I don't know why I didn't think of it myself. And I spend time hiking the C&O canal towpath around Harpers Ferry and watch the coal trains lumber by.

Of course, most of the general public is in climate change denial, even if they claim not to be, because the decisions they make about their personal consumption (living in single family houses, driving in single occupancy automobiles with power and speed prized above fuel economy, and eating lots and lots of feedlot-grown meat) are the things that are causing the climate crisis. And, mea culpa, I do my share to contribute to this, even if my contribution is less than the average Americans.

Any American political leader, heck, any political leader in any country, who would try to do something that would have an actual effect on the climate crisis would have to reduce the standard of living of the general citizenry to such an extent that they would be quickly removed from office. I'm really pretty pessimistic that humanity is going to prevent the climate crisis. If you're young, I would suggest moving north and don't invest in waterfront property.
 

Anderson

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This is so obvious that I don't know why I didn't think of it myself. And I spend time hiking the C&O canal towpath around Harpers Ferry and watch the coal trains lumber by.

Of course, most of the general public is in climate change denial, even if they claim not to be, because the decisions they make about their personal consumption (living in single family houses, driving in single occupancy automobiles with power and speed prized above fuel economy, and eating lots and lots of feedlot-grown meat) are the things that are causing the climate crisis. And, mea culpa, I do my share to contribute to this, even if my contribution is less than the average Americans.

Any American political leader, heck, any political leader in any country, who would try to do something that would have an actual effect on the climate crisis would have to reduce the standard of living of the general citizenry to such an extent that they would be quickly removed from office. I'm really pretty pessimistic that humanity is going to prevent the climate crisis. If you're young, I would suggest moving north and don't invest in waterfront property.
I'm definitely part of the problem on this (notwithstanding my preference for taking the train where possible, I've thrown in the towel here).

The issue, however, isn't single-family homes. It is (1) the alternatives to driving are basically null in a lot of places and (2) the "ramp" to fix some of those issues is not only steep but obstructed.

There are issues with neighborhood density and the like. Not going to dispute that. However, it isn't like "streetcar suburbs" were completely swamped with apartments, and I think single-family townhouses and the like could sell in a lot of places, particularly if you're willing to stipulate some sort of neighborhood-level transit option that lets you at least centralize parking (as well as, ideally, connecting to a bigger transit system).

"Transit-oriented sprawl" is another option that's turning up in some places like Northern VA: You accommodate the suburban desires that show up, but you also make a point of designing serious transit options (e.g. VRE stops) into the neighborhood.
 

MARC Rider

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I'm definitely part of the problem on this (notwithstanding my preference for taking the train where possible, I've thrown in the towel here).
Me too.

The issue, however, isn't single-family homes. It is (1) the alternatives to driving are basically null in a lot of places and (2) the "ramp" to fix some of those issues is not only steep but obstructed.
The problem (from a sustainability perspective) of single family homes isn't just that people drive more. The homes themselves require more energy to heat or cool (because they don't share walls with other housing units), and thus people living in them consume more fossil fuel (unless they're all-electric and their utility generates its power solely from nuclear, hydro, or renewable sources, which is unlikely). We also have an issue that the average household size in the US is smaller than it used to be, so the total number of housing units has increased at a faster rate than the population has increased. Also, housing consumers demand larger living spaces than in the past, which means more fuel is needed to heat and cool.

Also, if everybody is to have a single family house, more land area must be built up to fit the houses needed as population increases. This spreads out the built up areas in cities and town and requires people to have to travel longer distances to get about in the city or the town.

Your other points are spot-on.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I'm thinking, in the last 4.5 Billion years of this planet...the Climate may have changed before. Maybe a couple of times!
Most of those 4.5 billion years would have been rather inhospitable to human existence.

Yeah perhaps the loudest climate change activists should put their money where their mouths are, ditch their private jets and ride trains instead.
I know hundreds of climate change activists, none of whom has ever owned or ridden in a private jet. They mostly walk, bicycle, ride buses, and carpool. I've yet to see one fly unless there was no other practical option available to them.
 

neroden

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Yeah, we know from geology what it was like the last time the climate was allowed to warm to "hothouse earth". Spoiler: mass extinctions, and humanity would be quite unlikely to survive. We evolved long after that.

It's not about saving the planet, it's about saving our own necks.

As others have commented, one big issue with land use is that zoning prohibits "streetcar suburbs". Streetcar suburbs, with rowhouses and condos, are incredibly popular, but they're illegal to build in most of the country. Zoning is a curse.

Regarding the railroads, coal traffic is dying and will be dead soon. It's becoming unaffordable to operate *existing* coal plants -- it's cheaper to build new wind farms, solar farms, and batteries now. And this is with thermal coal prices so low that all the coal companies are declaring bankruptcy and shutting down mines. The railroads are actually part of this, because they do *not* cut the hauling prices for coal when the market is weak, meaning that there's a large minimum "transportation of coal" cost even if the coal is mined for free.

It is very unfortunate that the "Big Four" railroads decided to commit federal crimes by spreading dishonest propaganda in a corrupt attempt to prop up a dying business. This makes them criminally liable. At least CP, CN, and KCS haven't been implicated, though I wouldn't be surprised if they were guilty too. (BTW, CN is the only one of the "Big Seven" class Is who has essentially no coal traffic.)
 
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F900ElCapitan

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Back in the early 70s we were going into an ice age. All of a sudden we were “warming” and not long after that revelation, mankind would end in “12 years”, of which this time frame has passed a few times and by golly were still here. Today again many are preaching mankind will end in 12 years due to warming. Unfortunately zero of these predictions have been anywhere near the truth. The ocean hasn’t drowned Florida, or California, etc. Storms haven’t become more frequent or stronger. The largest problem has been “climate scientists” doing “adjustments” to actual temps. This was recently exposed that NASA had messed with data in Iceland relating to a cold period around 1980, they have recently “corrected” the data after the issue was exposed but this problem is not isolated among alarmists.

What has happened is the sun has gone through a high-output cycle in the past few decades that is part of a larger and quickly diminishing warm cycle. Sunspots/storms are quickly diminishing and as the only significant source of energy/heat for the earth this is troubling`. There are more and more scientists that are starting to realize that we are actually heading to a cooling period and probable “ice-age” of some sort.

Man has little to nothing to do with “man made global warming”. Hopefully soon this will be realize by the masses and the climate change hoax will end. But unfortunately the “alarmists’ will try their hardest to find another issue to take your money to “fix”.

That being said, I am totally for clean air and water. We should take care of our planet and our resources but drop the alarmism.
 

MARC Rider

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Back in the early 70s we were going into an ice age. All of a sudden we were “warming” and not long after that revelation, mankind would end in “12 years”, of which this time frame has passed a few times and by golly were still here. Today again many are preaching mankind will end in 12 years due to warming. Unfortunately zero of these predictions have been anywhere near the truth. The ocean hasn’t drowned Florida, or California, etc. Storms haven’t become more frequent or stronger. The largest problem has been “climate scientists” doing “adjustments” to actual temps. This was recently exposed that NASA had messed with data in Iceland relating to a cold period around 1980, they have recently “corrected” the data after the issue was exposed but this problem is not isolated among alarmists.

What has happened is the sun has gone through a high-output cycle in the past few decades that is part of a larger and quickly diminishing warm cycle. Sunspots/storms are quickly diminishing and as the only significant source of energy/heat for the earth this is troubling`. There are more and more scientists that are starting to realize that we are actually heading to a cooling period and probable “ice-age” of some sort.

Man has little to nothing to do with “man made global warming”. Hopefully soon this will be realize by the masses and the climate change hoax will end. But unfortunately the “alarmists’ will try their hardest to find another issue to take your money to “fix”.

That being said, I am totally for clean air and water. We should take care of our planet and our resources but drop the alarmism.
What are your sources for this? Everybody I know who's an actual expert on the subject is quite satisfied that the evidence is clear that we're experiencing severe climate change, and it's main source is from burning fossil fuels.
 

Bob Dylan

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Wow, he must have read it on the internet,or else mistakingly tuned in to hate radio!:rolleyes:
 
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jis

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http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/coasts/sealevel/

This article has a nice discussion of the observed relationship between the rise in mean sea level as caused by broad climatic changes and the rise/fall of sea level in specific locations. The mean temp and sea level has been rising for a while with variations along the timeline. Sea levels at individual locations which are affected by other factors have risen at different rates or in a few cases have even fallen.
 
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peteypablo

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FWIW, here’s one “fact” about what the IPCC predicts: If we do nothing to change, sea level will increase by 2.8 feet by 2100. If we eliminate all fossil fuel burning by 2030, sea level will rise 1.6 feet by 2100. Here’s another “fact” about what countries have promised to do: India and China have promised not to increase their burning of fossil fuels after 2030. Not to stop burning, just to cap their burning. Here’s another fact: Germany has almost tripled its cost of electricity by installing wind and solar capacity that is 150% of its base electricity need. Germany has decommissioned almost all of its nuclear power plants. Since wind and solar generation are so intermittent, Germany keeps significant coal plants running constantly to back up the unreliable electricity from wind and solar. And electricity is only about one third of energy consumption. So, for all of this expense, Germany has so far accomplished virtually no reduction in its CO2 emissions.

I think the Netherlands are doing the right thing to raise their main dike by 6-7 feet. Anyone else with property close to sea level should consider doing the same. The total disconnect between actual IPCC predictions and the hysteria in the news, on the one hand, and the similar disconnect between what would have to be done to have even a measurable effect and what is actually being done or even proposed, on the other hand, compel a conclusion that we are going to find out in the next eighty years if the IPCC’s direst predictions are correct.

My bet is that they are wrong, but I won’t be here in 2100 to say, “I told you so.”
 

jis

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FWIW, here’s one “fact” about what the IPCC predicts: If we do nothing to change, sea level will increase by 2.8 feet by 2100. If we eliminate all fossil fuel burning by 2030, sea level will rise 1.6 feet by 2100.
That would seem to be partial fact since the associated uncertainties and error parameters have also been stated precisely by them [emoji6]
 

jiml

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Who is seriously preaching that “mankind will end in 12 years” because of the climate? That’s a claim I’ve never heard.
The most frequent user of the 12-year reference has been Greta Thunberg in several speeches since 2018. I don't believe she's actually said "the end of mankind" at any point; more that if change wasn't implemented within 12 years the trend would be irreversible. Of course using her timeline means we're down to 10 years now. I'm not endorsing what she says - I think she's a puppet for others, packaged in such a way that makes her less likely to be disregarded, however there is some solid science to support reduced use of fossil fuels and efforts to find cleaner energy.
 

Trogdor

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There’s a huge difference between saying if we don’t change within 12 years, we’ll be on an irreversible trend, and saying “mankind will end in 12 years” (which is F900’s exact quote).

I want to know who has claimed mankind will end in 12 years, but somehow I don’t think I’m going to get pointed to a legitimate source on that one.

Understanding the difference between the meaning of those two statements is important, because apparently there are plenty of folks (including perhaps in this very thread) who misunderstand what they thought they heard, and when their misunderstanding turns out not to be correct, they just assume the whole thing must be a hoax and ignore it.
 

MARC Rider

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http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/coasts/sealevel/

This article has a nice discussion of the observed relationship between the rise in mean sea level as caused by broad climatic changes and the rise/fall of sea level in specific locations. The mean temp and sea level has been rising for a while with variations along the timeline. Sea levels at individual locations which are affected by other factors have risen at different rates or in a few cases have even fallen.
The negative effects of climate change are more than sea level rise. There will be changes in optimal areas for growing food crops, for instance.

The "corn belt" in the US might not be so good for growing corn in the near future, and other countries, some of which don't have the friendliest relations with us, may become the new breadbaskets of the world.

The ranges of many plant and animal species, may shift -- How about alligators in Virginia, or tropical diseases becoming endemic in the middle latitudes? Sugar maples may not grow as well in the northeastern United States, putting our pancake breakfasts at the mercy of the Canadian maple syrup cartel.

A slug of fresh water from the melted Greenland ice sheet could mess up ocean currents in the North Atlantic, resulting in colder climates in western Europe, despite overall global warming. There's evidence that this is, indeed, happening.

A lot of our economic system, optimized for climate of the recent past, could be severely disrupted, which could, in turn, result in all kinds of political disruption. Our military is taking this problem a lot more seriously than some of the politicians supposedly in charge. This is really serious stuff, and the last thing we need are ignoramuses telling the world that there's not a problem. We better be prepared for some pretty severe shocks in our way of life in our lifetimes or in the lifetimes of our children.
 

F900ElCapitan

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Ok, first of all, I apologize, I did mis-speak a bit about the 12 years...it has been uses multiple time to say if we don’t change in that time frame then it will mean doom and gloom and then yes possibly lead to the end of the human race. My point was more that fear mongering with respect to the climate has been beyond reasonable and continues to be so. This in addition to continued exposed monkeying with data means the “science” is junk and the “scientists” are telling you what they want you to hear. If you would like some predictions that really demonstrate my point...

1970s multiple predictions we were heading into an imminent ice age, nitrogen buildup will make all land unusable, all fish are about to be dead
1980s acid rain about to wipe out all life in most lakes, the Maldives will be underwater by 2018, massive regional droughts, NY’s west side hwy will be under water by 2019
1990s multiple predictions of impending temperature rises (by the IPCC, NASA, NOAA, and others) which were well above what happened.
2000s children won’t know what snow is, famine in 10 years if we don’t give up eating fish, meat, and dairy, Britain will be Siberia by 2024, Arctic will be ice free by 2018, Al Gore predicts ice-free Arctic by 2013 (not to mention the hockey stick), Prince Charles says we have 96 months to save world, UK Prime Minister Says 50 Days to ‘Save The Planet From Catastrophe’, more and monster hurricanes, Manhattan underwater by 2015
2010s more ice free arctic predictions, 500 days before climate chaos (2014)

These are just a few and doesn’t include things like the emails of the 2000s that exposed the temperature data changes.

One benefit to the slightly higher carbon is plants are growing much easier and better now. With regard to growing zones, so maybe we won’t be able to grow corn in the same regions as we do today, I’ll bet now that the American farmer will be better than anyone thinks and will overcome and adapt with appropriate crops that will do really well in their region. But we are a very long way from that.
 

peteypablo

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That would seem to be partial fact since the associated uncertainties and error parameters have also been stated precisely by them [emoji6]
Fair enough. The error margins are fairly wide, but these are people whose past predictions have been high, and even then every claim that their predictions have been accurate is dependent on the accuracy of temperature data which they both collect and adjust. If one examines only the raw temperature data, there is virtually no evidence of temperature increase over the past century. And one looks in vain for evidence of accelerating sea level change.
 

peteypablo

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There’s a huge difference between saying if we don’t change within 12 years, we’ll be on an irreversible trend, and saying “mankind will end in 12 years” (which is F900’s exact quote).

I want to know who has claimed mankind will end in 12 years, but somehow I don’t think I’m going to get pointed to a legitimate source on that one.

Understanding the difference between the meaning of those two statements is important, because apparently there are plenty of folks (including perhaps in this very thread) who misunderstand what they thought they heard, and when their misunderstanding turns out not to be correct, they just assume the whole thing must be a hoax and ignore it.
There is a difference, sure, but it's more than just saying we are on an irreversible trend. They're saying we're doomed. At least this is the claim of AOC. It's hard, of course, to nail down what Greta Thunberg is predicting, precisely, because no one will ask her a tough question, but she's pretty hysterical. And she seems to think it's just a matter of passing a bill and suddenly the problem is solved. Our entire standard of living is based on burning fossil fuels. There are a very few places where geothermal or hydro power are abundant enough to supply the anticipated needs of locals, but for everyone else, if we have to stop burning fossil fuels, we're going to see a serious retrenchment in standard of living of the likes no one has experienced outside of war zones.

Germany did us the favor of undertaking a vast experiment in reliance on wind and solar power, at enormous cost to their society. Until and unless someone comes up with a reasonable electricity storage solution, wind and solar are not the answer. The UK and Netherlands are taking another tack. They're going to burn wood chips from North America to generate electricity and pretend that burning does not generate CO2.
 

peteypablo

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The negative effects of climate change are more than sea level rise. There will be changes in optimal areas for growing food crops, for instance.

The "corn belt" in the US might not be so good for growing corn in the near future, and other countries, some of which don't have the friendliest relations with us, may become the new breadbaskets of the world.

The ranges of many plant and animal species, may shift -- How about alligators in Virginia, or tropical diseases becoming endemic in the middle latitudes? Sugar maples may not grow as well in the northeastern United States, putting our pancake breakfasts at the mercy of the Canadian maple syrup cartel.

A slug of fresh water from the melted Greenland ice sheet could mess up ocean currents in the North Atlantic, resulting in colder climates in western Europe, despite overall global warming. There's evidence that this is, indeed, happening.

A lot of our economic system, optimized for climate of the recent past, could be severely disrupted, which could, in turn, result in all kinds of political disruption. Our military is taking this problem a lot more seriously than some of the politicians supposedly in charge. This is really serious stuff, and the last thing we need are ignoramuses telling the world that there's not a problem. We better be prepared for some pretty severe shocks in our way of life in our lifetimes or in the lifetimes of our children.
These "mights" are the kinds of predictions that have been quoted elsewhere on this thread, and, once they fail to occur as predicted, the advocates quickly disassociate themselves from the "mights" and make another prediction of what "could" happen.

The Arctic is not ice free, we still have snow, Manhattan is not flooding, the Maldives are thriving, crops yields continue to rise, and deaths from natural disasters are at all time lows. If you want me to take you seriously, make a serious specific prediction that is not worded like a horoscope and I'll offer you a friendly wager.
 
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