New climate targets may not change daily life much

Nov 27, 2009 By SETH BORENSTEIN , AP Science Writer
In this Nov. 25, 2009 file photo, President Obama speaks during the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey, Courage, in a ceremony in the North Portico of the White House, in Washington. President Barack Obama is committing the United States to a goal of substantial cuts in greenhouse gas pollution over the next decade when he travels to a widely anticipated climate conference in Copenhagen next month. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

(AP) -- Americans' day-to-day lives won't change noticeably if President Barack Obama achieves his newly announced goal of slashing carbon dioxide pollution by one-sixth in the next decade, experts say.

Except for rising energy bills. And how much they'll go up depends on who's doing the calculating.

The White House will commit the U.S. to a goal of cutting in 2010 to about 17 percent below 2005 levels at a U.N.-sponsored in Copenhagen early next month. That's about 12.5 percent below 2008 levels, according to the Department of Energy. He also set a goal of cutting emissions by 83 percent by 2050, which is what European nations want.

So the question is how big a burden would those double-digit cuts be for the average American.

Experts say it will mean higher energy bills, fewer deaths from , and maybe even a dividend check at the end of the year. But mostly, they say, it'll be small, slowly evolving changes that the public won't even notice.

Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer compares what would happen under Obama's 2020 target to what has happened the past 30 years to refrigerators. Without consumers noticing much, they have become three times more energy efficient. You only notice when you buy one, because they cost more, or if you look at reduced energy usage on your electric bill, Oppenheimer said.

But what would the overall cost of the big cuts in emissions actually be?

White House climate czar Carol Browner cites a $173 a year cost for a family of four that was calculated by the Congressional Budget Office for the House climate bill, which has the same roughly 17 percent target. That summer CBO study said the poorest households would save $40 a year, while those in the highest income ranges would face a jump of $245 a year.

The Environmental Protection Agency put the overall cost at between $80 and $111 for the average household. But much of those estimates have lots of caveats, such as increased nuclear power use.

Energy companies, business interests, and Republicans say the costs will be far higher and hurt the average American far more.

A number of studies done at the request of business groups have pegged the cost for the average household at $900 to $1,539 a year by 2020.

Scott Segal, a Washington attorney who represents top carbon dioxide emitters such as power plants and refineries, said Wednesday a lot of the cost will depend on the details of how the goal is achieved. But he said the White House is quoting the lower, not the higher end of cost analyses.

"Price increases in those areas could be significant," Segal said.

Taking the White House and Congressional Budget Office figure, it amounts to less than half a buck a day, nowhere near the cost of a cup of coffee. But if the bulk of the increases came in four peak months in winter and summer, that would be an extra $40 a month, which would be noticeable. And industry's figures are closer to $5 a day.

John Reilly, associate director of MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, has conducted a detailed analysis of congressional plans. He says electricity bills could increase by more than 50 percent and a gallon of gas could jump by 26 cents by 2020, but those won't be as onerous as they sound.

The latest proposal for the intricate cap-and-trade system for pollution credits involves auctioning off the right to pollute, with the proceeds being returned to consumers. That means consumers would pay more in monthly bills and then get checks back from utilities at the end of the year, which would encourage them to use less energy, Reilly said.

That end-of-the-year check, he maintained, would offset some of the higher electricity prices.

And the projected gas price increase would be about the same as what happened a couple years ago, Reilly added.

"It's a gradual evolution," he said. "The idea is to gently direct us in another direction so it isn't a big dramatic shift ... to do this with the least amount of pain as possible."

Eventually cars may be made of different materials, Princeton's Oppenheimer said. Some coal power plants may be replaced with cleaner natural gas. Big cars will be more costly and discouraged. Smaller cars may be built to be more comfortable and inviting.

There will be "a million small changes ... most of them you will never know happen, some you will," Oppenheimer said.

"We don't see the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," he said. "We're not going to see most of the measures to remove it from emissions. And we're not going to notice when it's gone except that very gradually over the long term the rate of warming of the world will slow down."

Public health officials from around the world on Wednesday released a series of studies showing that reducing greenhouse gas emissions - by the same 83 percent by 2050 that Obama targeted - would save millions of lives because of reduced air pollution.

Cutting pollution and encouraging more exercise and less meat consumption to reduce emissions would reduce deaths from heart and lung diseases worldwide, study authors and health officials said.

Even a 17 percent emissions cut by 2020, as Obama outlined, would mean hundreds if not thousands of U.S. lives saved because there would be less air pollution to worsen heart and lung diseases, said Christopher Portier, associate director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"Relying on fossil fuels leads to unhealthy lifestyles, increasing our chances for getting sick and in some cases takes years from our lives," U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "As greenhouse gas emissions go down, so do deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. This is not a small effect."

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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deatopmg
3.4 / 5 (12) Nov 27, 2009
"There will be "a million small changes ... most of them you will never know happen, some you will," Oppenheimer said. "

What he avoids saying is that we will pay for every single one and though small a "million" certainly will add up to real money.

Basically though this scheme is part and parcel of the CO2 driven global warming myth. By their own recent admissions, AGWer's data has been diddled from the beginning. The only thing CO2 and Earth's overall temperature rise over the past ca. 200 yrs have in common is that the temp. has been rising and the CO2 has been rising for the latter half of that time.
marjon
3.7 / 5 (12) Nov 27, 2009
The other changes will be the increasing fascism in the USA with more collusion between the government and favored industries.
"A cap-and-trade scheme is essentially a carbon cartel….By restricting the supply and raising the price of fossil energy, cap-and-trade creates windfalls for the lucky holders of emission credits. Notably, companies caught engaging in illegal market manipulation – Enron, [and electric utilities] American Electric Power, Cinergy, Entergy, and Calpine – have been among the most aggressive lobbyists for the Kyoto Protocol or kindred emission trading schemes. Among the most influential lobbyists for Kyoto-style policy are Wall Street firms that expect to make commissions on the purchase and sale of carbon-trading credits. "
http://cei.org/ar...cidences
omatumr
3.4 / 5 (10) Nov 28, 2009
Amen!

Deatopmg and Marjon are exactly right.

The hacked e-mail messages have documented deceit and dishonesty in the AGW scientific community, but politically poor Mr. Obama cannot now admit that the whole CO2-induced global warming movement is a fraud.

Thanks, Deatopmg and Marjon, for calling a spade a shovel!

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA PI for Apollo
peteone1
3.7 / 5 (9) Nov 28, 2009
Obama is perpetuating the myth concocted by that non-scientist buffoon Al-Gore, that the West, capitalism, and the US are the guilty parties for using CO2 to destroy the earth by warming it. The truth is that Obama has bought into the vacuous lies of the AGW Alarmist/radical environmentalist movement and is now willing to see his nation dismantled by a bunch of anti-capitalist greenazis who wish to get their hands on our wealth while preaching the twisted virtues of communism to the rest of us.
mikiwud
3.3 / 5 (7) Nov 28, 2009
Warmists have got the proverbial tiger by the tail.
They should not have been so stupid to grab it in the first place and now cannot let go as it tries to bite them.
peteone1
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 28, 2009
The other changes will be the increasing fascism in the USA with more collusion between the government and favored industries.
((The other changes will be the increasing fascism in the USA))
What do you mean by that term "fascism in the USA"? Are you one who believes that capitalism, imperialism, fascism, nazism, Christianity, and the USA are all the same? I would hope not because only braindead leftwing neo-communist swine believe that kind of vacuous rhetoric.

I wished we would have REAL collusion between the two, instead of having Leftist ideologues in the Greenazi movement trying to imposed draconian legislation that would otherwise cripple the free market and give control to some type of big govt socialistic bureaucracy.
bhiestand
1.7 / 5 (11) Nov 28, 2009
Not a single fact in a single comment above, nor a single comment that addressed a single fact in the article. Unfortunately it seems a large number of AGW Deniers have invaded PhysOrg, so it's the same people spouting the same arguments in every article about this topic.

I can't even begin to understand what it's like to think that there is absolutely no way we can harm the environment. The SAME arguments that have been used by anti-environmentalists for decades and they're still convincing people they know what they're talking about...?
marjon
3.7 / 5 (9) Nov 28, 2009
The other changes will be the increasing fascism in the USA with more collusion between the government and favored industries.
((The other changes will be the increasing fascism in the USA))
What do you mean by that term "fascism in the USA"? Are you one who believes that capitalism, imperialism, fascism, nazism, Christianity, and the USA are all the same? I would hope not because only braindead leftwing neo-communist swine believe that kind of vacuous rhetoric.

I wished we would have REAL collusion between the two, instead of having Leftist ideologues in the Greenazi movement trying to imposed draconian legislation that would otherwise cripple the free market and give control to some type of big govt socialistic bureaucracy.


Fascism, a subset of socialism, occurs when the government controls 'private' property with regulations.
marjon
4 / 5 (7) Nov 28, 2009
Not a single fact in a single comment above, nor a single comment that addressed a single fact in the article. Unfortunately it seems a large number of AGW Deniers have invaded PhysOrg, so it's the same people spouting the same arguments in every article about this topic.

I can't even begin to understand what it's like to think that there is absolutely no way we can harm the environment. The SAME arguments that have been used by anti-environmentalists for decades and they're still convincing people they know what they're talking about...?


What are the facts in the article? I see much speculation and prediction. The government said Medicare wouldn't cost much either.
bhiestand
5 / 5 (4) Nov 28, 2009
Fascism, a subset of socialism, occurs when the government controls 'private' property with regulations.

Yeah, I remember that from my high school history courses. Hitler and Stalin fought a war over the best way to implement Socialism and their main disagreement was on environmental policy.
bhiestand
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 28, 2009
What are the facts in the article? I see much speculation and prediction. The government said Medicare wouldn't cost much either.

* Pollution causes health problems
* Renewable energy produces much less pollution
* Obama's plan will save lots of lives by reducing health problems caused by pollution
* CO2 emissions reductions will be gradually phased in
* Most of these changes the plan calls for can be made with simple behind-the-scenes changes, like cleaner coal, increased nuclear usage, and increased renewable use.
* Carbon cab-and-trade proceeds will be returned to the customers (oh so Socialistique!)
* According to a rather distinguished fellow at MIT, "electricity bills could increase by more than 50 percent and a gallon of gas could jump by 26 cents by 2020".
* Lots of other groups are trying to estimate the costs, and the Obama Admin cites the lower estimated costs.
marjon
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 28, 2009
Fascism, a subset of socialism, occurs when the government controls 'private' property with regulations.

Yeah, I remember that from my high school history courses. Hitler and Stalin fought a war over the best way to implement Socialism and their main disagreement was on environmental policy.


You must have gone to a government school in the USA.

"To argue that Soviet communism, Italian fascism, and German Nazism were all branches from a common source in collectivism and socialism has been one of the great taboos of the 20th century. "
http://www.fff.or...200h.asp

zbarlici
1 / 5 (3) Nov 29, 2009
Hey! ever wonder why the USA & co. are reluctant to go ahead with a cut in greenhouse gas emmisions?

Is is because their auto manufacturers can`t figure out how to make decent small engines so they wont be able to slash co2 emissions?

Nope, thats not why. The reason why theyre reluctant to do so is because there`s huge tax income from sales of gasoline. Also, most likely, most of the the members of parliament`s climb to the top was done by use of a plastic ladder.

It also makes perfect sense that, a nation which harbors 5% of the world`s population but uses in excess of 25% of renewables, not sign up for any greenhouse emission accords. After all theres absolutely no room for improvement there.
marjon
5 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2009
Hey! ever wonder why the USA & co. are reluctant to go ahead with a cut in greenhouse gas emmisions?

Is is because their auto manufacturers can`t figure out how to make decent small engines so they wont be able to slash co2 emissions?

Nope, thats not why. The reason why theyre reluctant to do so is because there`s huge tax income from sales of gasoline. Also, most likely, most of the the members of parliament`s climb to the top was done by use of a plastic ladder.

It also makes perfect sense that, a nation which harbors 5% of the world`s population but uses in excess of 25% of renewables, not sign up for any greenhouse emission accords. After all theres absolutely no room for improvement there.


What is the productivity of that 5% population?
freethinking
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 29, 2009
Isn't it interesting people who believe Obama generally belive in AGW.
bhiestand
1.2 / 5 (5) Nov 29, 2009
... and people who believed Bush generally don't believe in AGW... and people who don't believe in AGW generally don't believe in evolution... and the entire crowd of people who think Palin is a good leader think AGW is a hoax...
zbarlici
Nov 29, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
freethinking
5 / 5 (3) Nov 30, 2009
Not to get into bush, obama bashing, however truely ask yourself If things were reversed, for example an bush had data that supported climate change, emails that showed that he was trying to prevent pro-AGW studies being published, etc, etc, were leaked, we all know that ABC, NBC, CNN, the democratic party, Obama, and Physorg would keep this all low key right?
bhiestand
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 30, 2009
You started the Obama bashing and brought politics into this. I brought up a counter-point to show how ridiculous that argument is, now you want to ask me about this hypothetical?

... Bush ran an oil company, was so deeply tied to fossil fuel interests that they defined his policy, personality, and life story. Bush was ideologically opposed to governmental environmental legislation and is known to have sabotaged all attempts at proper studies on the subject. The Republican Party intentionally and illegally avoided using government email servers so that their communications could not be exposed. The media was extremely weak on them, and many of the Democrats didn't beat that drum, probably because they have their own skeletons in their corporate-funded closets. So yes, they DID play it low key.

I like how you lump "ABC, NBC, CNN, the democratic party, Obama, and Physorg" all into one group, though. I suppose the only honest news left is Fox?
bhiestand
1.2 / 5 (5) Nov 30, 2009
... and, for the thousandth time, the CRU emails don't come close to showing any evidence of any international conspiracy. At most, there are some potential legal violations regarding the FOIA requests, although it sounds to me like these were jokes made in private rather than systemic patterns of illegal activity.

Although that's not really even relevant. You could prove every paper CRU ever published to be a flagrant hoax and still have a giant mountain of evidence for AGW from every other research organization on the planet. Even IF there is one bad apple, and that doesn't look likely at this point, there is NO reason to believe that an entire field of science has a giant anti-capitalist conspiracy.
Birger
1 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
If you want to assess the cost of alternatives you have to compare the total costs...in this case comparing the cost of doing *nothing with the cost of effective reduction of CO2 and of the carbon microparticles that make the polar ice absorb more heat. In that perspective, it is no more dramatic than paying insurance for your car. It stings a bit to pay the extra money, but it is a good investment.
And if you don't pay, you are betting on never being in a car crash, or, in this case, betting on all the climate scientists in the world being part of a big conspiracy.
marjon
5 / 5 (1) Nov 30, 2009
If you want to assess the cost of alternatives you have to compare the total costs...in this case comparing the cost of doing *nothing with the cost of effective reduction of CO2 and of the carbon microparticles that make the polar ice absorb more heat. In that perspective, it is no more dramatic than paying insurance for your car. It stings a bit to pay the extra money, but it is a good investment.
And if you don't pay, you are betting on never being in a car crash, or, in this case, betting on all the climate scientists in the world being part of a big conspiracy.


Who do you pay? What will happen to the money? Recall how Enron lobbied Clinton for the Kyoto treaty. GE, BP and others are lobbying big time for Cap and tax. The devil is in the details.
jcrow
2 / 5 (4) Nov 30, 2009
Wow the people on here must love air pollution. There is without a doubt more pollution being spewed than ever. Now that India and China are passing us up something must be done. Do you people actually believe there is no limit to how much we can pollute the air? Its not like companies are incapable of reducing emissions below the cap.
marjon
not rated yet Nov 30, 2009
Wow the people on here must love air pollution. There is without a doubt more pollution being spewed than ever. Now that India and China are passing us up something must be done. Do you people actually believe there is no limit to how much we can pollute the air? Its not like companies are incapable of reducing emissions below the cap.


How do you propose to force India and China to do anything?
Velanarris
5 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
Wow the people on here must love air pollution. There is without a doubt more pollution being spewed than ever. Now that India and China are passing us up something must be done. Do you people actually believe there is no limit to how much we can pollute the air? Its not like companies are incapable of reducing emissions below the cap.


I keep seeing this tired argument. You do all realize that CO2 is not air pollution, nor do any of these proposed emissions cuts have to do with anything other than CO2.

These protocols and targets do nothing for actual air pollution.
bhiestand
1 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
Wrong on all counts. First, a point I know you'll ignore, CO2 is pollution. When you're significantly changing the atmospheric mix, it's safe to call that pollution.

Second, most of these cuts will reduce pollution across the board because they involve increased end of pipe controls, switching from inherently polluting power sources to non-polluting ones (renewables), and increasing efficiency from other products that produce pollution, like cars.
marjon
3 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
Wrong on all counts. First, a point I know you'll ignore, CO2 is pollution. When you're significantly changing the atmospheric mix, it's safe to call that pollution.

Second, most of these cuts will reduce pollution across the board because they involve increased end of pipe controls, switching from inherently polluting power sources to non-polluting ones (renewables), and increasing efficiency from other products that produce pollution, like cars.


Quick, stop breathing, you are polluting the atm.

Then you fully support nuclear power?
bhiestand
1 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
Right, and defecating is a natural, necessary process, but if someone filled a thousand dump trucks with feces and covered a small town with it, you'd agree that it was pollution. It's a question of degree.

I don't "fully support" anything. This is international policy, not football. I agree that nuclear (fission) power could be part of the medium-term solution. Right now it's a lot more expensive than wind, takes too long to build the plants, and has some unresolved fuel and waste issues. I enthusiastically support efforts to continue developing the technology, but I think it's the equivalent of whale oil now--I'd be amazed if we were still operating commercial fission power plants in 2109.

In terms of where I stood with the history of fission, I hate Kerry for shutting down the Integral Fast Reactor. We should've been actively developing at least one proper breeder in the US, and the NIMBY fear of modern nuclear reactors was reactionary and irrational.
freethinking
3 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
Why did I lump CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and Physorg together with Obama and the democratic party? Listen to one and you listen to them all. If you believe they were fair to Bush, then I know why you are a believer.

On Fox news and even the crazy Glen Beck, they have actual debates. On health care, Glen Beck had pro and cons on, even though he is against health care. I have yet to see a balanced debate on any of the other networks.

If I'm wrong and they had differing viewpoints please show me. The only network to discuss this issue of leaks is Fox, The only network to discuss ACORN is fox, the only network that discusses health care is fox. I wish the other networks would be more balanced as I don't particularly like fox.

I love debate, pro's and con's, that way I can learn, but schools, the media, environmental scientists now only allow regurgitation of accepted facts.

I bet this post will be deleted, whereas the one that prompted from bhiestan it will stay.... any takers??
marjon
not rated yet Nov 30, 2009
Right, and defecating is a natural, necessary process, but if someone filled a thousand dump trucks with feces and covered a small town with it, you'd agree that it was pollution. It's a question of degree.

I don't "fully support" anything. This is international policy, not football. I agree that nuclear (fission) power could be part of the medium-term solution. Right now it's a lot more expensive than wind, takes too long to build the plants, and has some unresolved fuel and waste issues. I enthusiastically support efforts to continue developing the technology, but I think it's the equivalent of whale oil now--I'd be amazed if we were still operating commercial fission power plants in 2109.



Reactors are being built everyday around the world. The US Navy puts some in their subs and ships every year. All it takes is the political will to start building more. Toshiba as a design to power an AK town. It' ready to go, now. http://hyvin.nukk...iba.html
Velanarris
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
Wrong on all counts. First, a point I know you'll ignore, CO2 is pollution. When you're significantly changing the atmospheric mix, it's safe to call that pollution.

So say 0.0003% is significantly changing the atmospheric mix?

Second, most of these cuts will reduce pollution across the board because they involve increased end of pipe controls, switching from inherently polluting power sources to non-polluting ones (renewables), and increasing efficiency from other products that produce pollution, like cars.


Incorrect. Feel free to pull the specific line items out that support your case so I can educate you on how to read.

I've actually read this bill, or rather the 14 versions circulating through the government currently, and you can feel free to bring any circulating versions out. Without specific references, you can't say I'm incorrect.
defunctdiety
3 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2009
I can't even begin to understand what it's like to think that there is absolutely no way we can harm the environment.

bhiestand, you find yourself in the underwhelming minority because MOST people are open to equal consideration of all sides regarding such a complex subject and will ultimately believe what reason arrives at.

What one with such characteristics is guaranteed to find, is that the evidence is just not there for AGW. The majority of evidence that is there is the ultimately insignificant physics (CO2 radiative forcing can only account for a fraction of a % of global net irradiance MAXIMUM) and the rest has tremendous uncertainties attached (climate models, historical variability).

I don't think anyone here would make the idiotic claim you feebly try to impose upon us, no one's saying we can't effect the environment. There are a million environmental issues, none of them related to climate. You will come around too, albeit silently I imagine, what w/hubris and all...