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June 13, 2009

By Bob Difley

A highly placed government minister in Norway predicted that the country would be ice free by 2015. This was enough, even to those that believe global warming is taking place at an unprecedented rate, to make them cringe. And you could hear the skeptics falling off their chairs in shock.

It wasn’t until Finance Minister, Kristin Halvorsen, explained at a recent alternative fuels and vehicles exhibition in Oslo, that her proposal was to ban the sale of ICE-only (Internal Combustion Engines) by 2015 that brought order back to the assembly. Halvorsen’s plan allows hybrids with IC engines, but stops the sale of conventional IC engine vehicles. She also called for the development of hydrogen and plug-in electric vehicles.

Though Halavorsen explained that this was a realistic goal and the climate crisis problem would have to be solved after the financial crisis has been turned around, there was little chance that her goal would be achieved since she belongs to the minority party of Norway’s three-party coalition and the simple fact that Norway’s economy depends on the export of petroleum.

However, a smaller country leaning in that direction may have influence on how much effort and development funds vehicle manufacturers will be willing to invest in continuing development of ICE-only vehicles. And with every automobile and light truck manufacturer scheduling hybrid and electric vehicles to hit the market in the next couple years, it could be the end of the conventional gasoline powered passenger car. Even Ferrari and Lamborghini are testing electric power plants. And then, the next step is figure out how to electrify medium duty trucks, the delivery van chassis, and finally the RV platform with the power needed without sacrificing quality or safety.

And you can bet, that when local government officials, campgrounds and RV resorts, and parking lot owners see all these electric plug-in cars, trucks, and RVs on the streets, they will quickly install receptacles with meters for people to charge their vehicles while enjoying a tourist attraction, having lunch or an afternoon latte, shopping, and camping. Everybody who owns a parking space will be selling electric “fuel” and making a profit–the entrepreneurial spirit at work making life easier, stalling the rate of climate change, and reducing our addiction to fossil fuels. Now what could be wrong with that?

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  2. Vegasdan

    I happen to have one in my basement. 😉

  3. Joe

    The argument about the legitimacy of global warming is a waste of time unless there is something we can do about it. Until someone can outline a path to get emerging economies like China and India on board with whatever scheme they have to stop global warming, everyone is just spinning their wheels.

    To get India and China on board, you will have to convince them that they don’t have the right to expand their economies and increase the standard of living for their people in the same way we have over the last 50 years (cheap energy….coal). Good luck with that.

    We can probably find more common ground on the idea that the US is better off not depending on foreign oil for so much of our energy. You can agree or disagree with the idea of global warming and still be on board with energy independence. Some of the technologies that lead us to energy independence will make the global warming people happy. That’s no reason to reject those technologies out of hand.

    Stick with things most people can agree on, and everyone can waste less time arguing about things that none of us really know that much about. (I doubt either Bob or VegasDan would have the slightest idea about what to do with a supercomputer running a climate model.)

    My 2cents……

  4. Vegasdan

    It’s been 70s and 80s here in Las Vegas for a couple weeks. Normally we’d be sweltering in the low 100s.

    Here’s an article from daily Tech:

    Scientists quoted in a past DailyTech article link the cooling to reduced solar activity which they claim is a much larger driver of climate change than man-made greenhouse gases. The dramatic cooling seen in just 12 months time seems to bear that out. While the data doesn’t itself disprove that carbon dioxide is acting to warm the planet, it does demonstrate clearly that more powerful factors are now cooling it.

    Let’s hope those factors stop fast. Cold is more damaging than heat. The mean temperature of the planet is about 54 degrees. Humans — and most of the crops and animals we depend on — prefer a temperature closer to 70.

    Historically, the warm periods such as the Medieval Climate Optimum were beneficial for civilization. Corresponding cooling events such as the Little Ice Age, though, were uniformly bad news.

  5. VegasDan
    That’s skepticism toward that particular bill and its provisions. It will most likely be altered to address the concerns of the agricultural state representatives. Everyone has an agenda to protect their voters in their own backyard. But those objections are not directed at the legitamacy of global warming.

  6. Vegasdan

    Well maybe we could believe these guys.

    The House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said Wednesday that he’s at an impasse with the lead sponsor of a climate change bill strongly backed by Pelosi (D-Calif.), and that his list of Democratic members who would join him in voting against the measure is growing rather than shrinking.

    Peterson has warned that the bill put together by Waxman and Energy and Environment subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-Mass.) will fail if agriculture-related provisions aren’t altered, and he’s said he has as many as 45 votes on his side. That number of Democratic defections would certainly doom the prospects of passing the bill in the House.

    And while the Agriculture chairman said he’s working to resolve those differences and not intentionally trying to torpedo the legislation, he noted that skepticism toward the bill is growing, not shrinking.

  7. Vegas Dan
    This is the “Petition Project” that you are referring to, claiming to have “31,072 American scientists of which 9,021 have PhD’s”. (Those numbers are slightly different than yours). While you can choose to believe whoever you want, here is a look at the opposite opinion, from a blogger named darwin’s beagle. You can check out the facts to see whether he is corrrect.

    “ While having a Ph.D. is not a requirement to be a scientist, the vast, vast majority of scientists do have Ph.D.’s. Yet, less than 1/3 of the “scientists” signing this petition have them. Of those that do how many are climatologists? According to the website there are 3697 “scientists” who are Atmosphere, Earth, and Environmental scientists. A further breakdown in that category claims that 40 have expertise in climatology. And just who are these “scientists”?

    It turns out this petition has been circulating for 10 years. When it first came out notable signees included John Grisham, Perry Mason, Anne Frank, and Spice Girl Geri Halliway, Ph.D. These signatures were hoaxes of course (although Perry Mason and Anne Frank remain on the list). Initially accompanying the petition was a reprint of PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCE USA (PNAS) paper touting the benefits of extra CO2 in the atmosphere. The problem there is that the PNAS never published such a paper. It was a forgery. There are so many things wrong with this “petition” that it is really not worth considering; it has no credibility what-so-ever.

    There is a VERY STRONG CONSENSUS that anthropogenic global warming is occurring, that it is potentially devastating, and carbon emissions from human activity is by far the main cause. While there are certainly SOME scientists who do not believe it (and some of them are climatologists), these scientists have done no publishable research that goes against the consensus opinion. That is about as strong of a consensus as anyone should expect to get on almost anything. This does not mean that the science is ruled by consensus. No science is. The importance of a scientific consensus is for those people who either do not have the time, the skill, or the inclination to look at the REAL data. These people must rely on the opinion of others, and whose opinion should they rely on? There is none better than the consensus opinion of the scientists in the field.”

  8. Vegasdan

    Here is what thousands of scientists say about the Kyoto global warming agreement.
    “We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

    There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

    31,478 scientists have signed the statement you just read. 9,029 of those scientists have PhD degrees. 3,803 of them have expertise in atmospheric, earth, and environmental science. Sound like a consensus to you?

    And Bob, for your info, Adolph Hitler was elected in free elections as Chancellor in 1933.

  9. Larry

    I agree that OPEC countries will continue to ship oil because it is their source of income. They will also raise prices to make more money and/or lower prices to kill alternative energy development. So, the best way to keep US prices stable and to encourage alternate vehicle technologies is thru high taxes on imported oil and more domestic production. This also helps our national security. Why can’t we protect our environment, economy and security at the same time??

    OPEC countries beyond just Iran want nuclear energy. One reason is to maximize their exports of oil. Second, if they can then make the next step to nuclear weapons, they have greater security to keep selling oil rather than having it taken from them by force. Here in the US, some worry about nuclear waste storage and accidents (things that we at least can have some control over), but countries hostile to the US (like Iran) will have no problem disposing of their nuclear waste, it can “accidently” end up in the hands of terrorist and they will put it to good use, guess where?

  10. Tommy

    The melting ice should only concern you if you believe weather only runs one way – continuous warming. Of course, if you believe this, then a scientist you are not.

    Reviews of earth’s weather over thousands of years shows ice ages, tropical environments at the poles, and everything in between. The Sun has a far greater impact on global temps than any man-made processes, population growth, or livestock input will every account for. If you truly wish to see which way the temps are going to move, keep your eye on the solar cycles. Earth’s temp is directly related to the minimums and maximums observed over the past century (about as long as we’ve tracked good ‘ole Sol).

    Man’s impact on global weather can only be described as minuscule, at best. Often left out of Global Warming (or, Global Change) information is the largest sources of CO2 emissions. If included in the data, the numbers do not support the predictions of imminent doom.

    Oh, one more thing. Why is it OK to cherry pick locations to support Global Warming/Change but, when other locations do not support the alarmist’s viewpoint, toss them out? That, my friends, is not science.

    It is a fact that glaciers are receding.

    It is also a fact that glaciers are advancing.

    It is a fact that the global temp has gone up (revised downward from the earlier estimates).

    It is also a fact that we are not as hot as the earth has ever been nor as cold.

    No one can say with certainty that the global temp has ever gone up or down this fast in history. Tree rings are not a reliable logging device for temperature records. (They ARE reliable logs for tree growth in a particular year which could just as easily have occurred due to excess rain, not heat).

    I, for one, will believe “scientists” concerning Global Warming when they can accurately predict the weather, 100% of the time, three days into the future.

    Until then…


  11. G Shea

    I agree with Brad. Our “new” “free thinking” administration isn’t doing anything to get us off foreign oil (like every previous admin). Real answers are available now. Drill here, drill now, CNG, Hydrogen (which denmark uses to great success), electric, hybrid, bio diesel, ect.. Our “new free thinking” admin won’t push to have any of these mainstreamed because they don’t want us off foreign oil, nor do they really care about the enviroment. They want cap and trade to payback GE for using NBC and MSNBC to push push thier liberal agendas and win thier elections. GE stands to get Billions in “green” crap that will do little for the enviroment and nothing to get us off foreign oil. We need to demand hydrogen and CNG NOW and cars that use it. Both are proven to work and clean the air as well, but I bet 4 or 8 years from now we will still be bowing to the Saudi King and making excuses.
    G SHea

  12. TXBrad

    All: Normal spring storms in N.Texas knocked out power in several thousand homes, businesses, etc. Crews from several states are working now for a week to restore power.
    Now where do you plug in your electric vech. ??? Buy a gasoline driven generator!
    School is out & fuel $$$ going up in price w crude going up. People will cut back some & OPEC / Saudi/ Iran, etc. will drop price & increase production. These countries sole income is selling crude & natural gas.
    Last time I was in Saudi-Arabia, Medical ( some darn good Drs. & hospitals, ) college education, new pick-ups all free to most people ! Sale of oil ! Da.
    Loan money to build a house & don’t need to pay it back until you complete house.
    { don’t complete & free ! ]. They out source most of their Military .
    America has more oil on land & sea. Just think what we could do. Only 2 hold backs: the Govt & liberal courts. TX Brad

  13. John Shelton

    “I wonder where all of this electricity is coming from. North America is almost maxed out now and the enviromentalists hate large hydro plants.”

    Dick Boak, perhaps I can offer some answer to your question here. First, be aware that although the 4:00 pm “brownouts” on an unseasonably hot or cold day and in limited areas receive considerable press attention, this does not accurately portray the U.S. electric capacity. Many, and increasing numbers of public utility companies are installing “smart meters” that reduce electric rates during off peak hours because we are only using 80% of the available U.S. grid capacity during these off peak nighttime hours. This is the time that the majority of commuter type, grid recharge only, vehicles would be recharged. Other than the installation of a receptacle convenient to where one parks their car (if necessary), the infrastructure and capacity is already in place to recharge these vehicles. Of course, a battery only vehicle will not be suitable for many owners. For the remainder of the commuter world and for all intercity highway operation the vehicles would have onboard gasoline or diesel powered generators that recharge the batteries while enroute or while parked. These onboard generators, while operating at constant speed and near constant load can be designed and tuned to deliver approximately double the fuel mileage of a current equivalent gasoline or diesel engine powered vehicle.

    While battery only vehicles would not be suitable for intercity operation, the plug-in hybrid with an onboard generator would be, and would also be suitable for commuter service for a large percentage of the U.S. workers and would not use the gasoline or diesel fueled generator for weeks at a time.

    So the infrastructure and capacity is already in place for thousands of electric vehicles and as the numbers of such vehicles moves into the millions, public utilities will add capacity as appropriate. This is not something that will flood the country with millions of electric vehicles overnight and overwhelm our electric grid capacity. Perhaps a major battery breakthrough will eventually be developed to change this scenario completely, but not today.

  14. Well, Craig, since we elected Obama, I would venture a guess that there are more of us who believe in what he says and does than those who don’t. And by the way, dictators are not elected.

  15. Ron Swofford
    If you’ve read up on climate change and global warming, note that the key word there is “global.” Global climate change is not local, as in Chicago. When weather patterns are disrupted, many unpredictable changes take place, like it being cold in Chicago in June and the Arctic ice cap melting opening the famed Northwest Passage for the first time in history. That’s the problem with cherry picking an event then using it to support your point. And why do you choose to believe the naysayers and not the ones who think we should be doing something about it?

  16. Craig Powell

    Global warming is a HOAX! All this green car stuff is just another way for Mr.Obama and the green crowd to control how we live our lives in this country. Obama and the green crowd who financed his election will not be happy until all of us are living like rats in a cage doing only what we are told to when we are told to by our elected dictator!

  17. Ron Swafford

    More environuts “hand wringing.” To really think that we humans can do very much against what our own SUN is doing is pure folly and An Inconvenient Lie that is making a TON of money for ALGORE. When folks like CNN and Bob Difley begin to read from the hoard of peer-reviewed scientists who cast a lot more than doubt on some of the silliness of the “political class.” Here’s a brief article about how warm it’s been in Chicago lately!

    WGN-TV Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling and the WGN Weather Center staff provide daily coverage of weather in the Chicago area.
    So far, June’s chill is one for the records
    Steve Kahn
    on June 12, 2009 10:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
    The cloudy, chilly and rainy open to June here has been the talk of the town. So far this June is running more than 12 degrees cooler than last year, and the clouds, rain and chilly lake winds have been persistent. The average temperature at O’Hare International Airport through Friday has been only 59.5 degrees: nearly 7 degrees below normal and the coldest since records there began 50 years ago.

    More bad weather is on the way Saturday with a cold rain expected to linger through the bulk of the morning. Rainfall could be heavy — especially north of the city, which would be a reversal of Thursday’s deluge that targeted the southern suburbs.

    Better days ahead
    Encouraging signs in recent computer runs signal a change to more typical June weather which by now should feature daily highs around 80 degrees. A return of sunshine should boost temperatures well into the 70s Sunday and Monday, though lake cooling will continue. By midweek a northward shift in the jet stream promises a steady diet of highs in the 80s, though showers and thunderstorms are likely to accompany the warm-up.

  18. Larry

    It is truly sad that the Pres. feels that Iran is justified in wanting two major energy sources, oil and nuclear. BUT America can’t have either one, so who’s future is he looking out for??

  19. Vegasdan

    I, for one, am investing in palm trees to export to Norway. I’ll make a fortune!!!!

  20. Dick Boak
    Corn never was a good idea for making ethanol, other than that it was a starting point and it got the whole process started. New plants, like switch grass and misancanthus (sp?) (as well as algae) are being tested successfully, take nothing away from the food supply, out produce corn for energy, and will grow in poor soil unsuitable for food agriculture with little or no fertilizer or pesticides. I think also that supplying the energy to electric cars from power plants using natural gas, and even coal, is a better stop gap until solar, wind, and nuclear can be brought on line. It is better than continuing to import oil from OPEC and unfriendly nations. Let’s at least produce our electricity here in the US, which we can do with coal and natural gas. Thanks for your comments. Bob

  21. Dan Rambow – Yeah, you’re right. But the concept is interesting. It wouldn’t take much–every backyard electrician could wire in an outside plug–to have recharging stations (plugs) all over the place. But it would cause a revamping of the way electricity is offered and paid for.

  22. John Shelton
    If think “figuring out how to do it” also refers to the political, even more so than the mechanical or technological. So many factors come into play, such as the influence of lobbyists, the price of oil, the climate change effects blamed on global warming, instability in the oil producing countries, evidence of funding of terrorists by OPEC nations, and whether subsidies bby the government to electrical buyers all play a part. Yes, the technology is there, but the political will and the $$ to get it done are another thing. Thanks for the comments.

  23. Dick Boak

    I wonder where all of this electricity is coming from. North America is almost maxed out now and the enviromentalists hate large hydro plants. It is like the short sited bio fuel enthusiasts that have driven up the price of food corn to the point that poorer nations are going hungry. It is time we started thinking about the source and effects of our “green” energy sources first before producing the consumers

  24. John Shelton

    “And then, the next step is figure out how to electrify medium duty trucks, the delivery van chassis, and finally the RV platform with the power needed without sacrificing quality or safety.”

    Do you think that the problem here is “figuring how to do it” or is it “figuring how to do it at a cost that the buyer is willing (or able) to pay”? When gasoline gets back to $4/gallon and beyond, these vehicles that you describe will be “coming out of the woodwork”. Diesel/electric technology has been proven in successful locomotive power for – how long? – 40-50 years now. Even battery technology is not the limiting factor for highway vehicles because they only need limited battery power. Onboard generators running at a constant speed, providing the AVERAGE power needs of an electric vehicle can easily double the fuel mileage of an equivalent ICE only vehicle. These vehicles only need battery power for initial start up from a stop, acceleration, and hill climbing and some of this energy is returned on the downhills. I think cost is the biggest single factor that is preventing the production and public acceptance of this type of intercity motor vehicle powerplants that Motorhomes and towing vehicles need.

    Although it is certainly not the desired route, it is likely that recent and future, not yet introduced, legislation will force this advancement. (put a frowning “smiley” here)

  25. Dan Rambow

    The sale of electricty is highly regulated to avoid price gouging. Look at Arizona that had to regulate the way campgrounds could charge for electrical hook-ups.

    It will take some major legislative changes for every Tom, Dick, and Jane who owns a parking lot, to be able to charge for electric fuel at a profit.

    In Alaska, many office buildings and homes have outside electrical outlets to power heating of cars in the winter. So it isn’t a big deal to set up the infrastructure, but charging for a profit, is going to be another story.

  26. Joe

    Here’s the article on GM and the Malibou.


    “The company will continue to make hybrid versions of the Malibu for fleet buyers, but it is uncertain if GM will ever produce the Malibu hybrid for retail consumers ever again.”

  27. Joe

    What’s wrong with that? Where to start…….

    First off, Electricity and Hydrogen are not sources of energy. They are carriers of energy. In order to run a fleet of hydrogen or electric cars, you still need to put energy into them. For the reasonable future, that energy will come from fossil fuels. You’re not eliminating or reducing your dependence of fossil fuels, you’re just burning them at the power plant instead of in the car.

    There is one large volume source of electricity that does not depend on fossil fuels or let off greenhouse gasses. The technology is well established, but the US is in no hurry to use any more of it for political reasons. Nuclear. The current administration has shown no desire to allow new nuclear plants to be built.

    Until the US can get on board with nuclear (even France can do it!) , our plug-in and hydrogen cars will ultimately be powered by electricity generated from Natural Gas, Coal, and a small amount of Wind in some areas of the country.

    [On a side note, Hydrogen takes up a LOT of space per unit of energy carried. It’s not likely to be useful for cars…maybe big trucks and RV’s]

    Second, the near term future for the internal combustion engine looks pretty strong. GM, who has as much incentive to push green technologies right now as anyone, announced this week that they are scraping the hybrid Malibou for 2010 in favor of the ICE version.

    GM’s new CEO is out pushing the Volt, which they promise to make into a great car. Still, he admits in this article http://gm-volt.com/2009/06/11/gm-voltcom-exclusive-video-interview-with-gm-ceo-fritz-henderson/:

    “I asked him what percentage of GM’s vehicles he expects to be electric in 10 years and if he is fully committed to electrification of the automobile and getting this country off of oil.

    He replied that GM is “committed to being a part of the solution.” The commitment he advised is broad beyond purely electrics but also improving gas car fuel efficiency. He said that even in 10 years “the lion’s share” of GM vehicles will use the internal combustion engine, yet they will be “far more efficient.””

    GM’s CEO didn’t break down what part he expects to be ICE only and which part will be ICE/hybrid, but their recent decision with the Malibou gives you an idea of the challenges ICE/Hybrid is facing in larger cars.

    I don’t know where Bob is getting his vision of the future, but it doesn’t look to me like it’s based in political reality, technical reality, or science.

  28. Larry


    This is not a news flash and it didn’t come from Norway, nor is it about Norway. The news is from late 2007 that by 2015 or maybe even 2010, the Arctic will be ice free during the summer months. Even that doesn’t mean zero ice, just some ice free passages for some few weeks. This data came from researchers in Canada, not Norway. And no skeptics fell out of their chairs.

    The Finance Minister, Halvorsen, did recently propose no ICEs after 2015 for Norway, but even that is not a flash since she realizes that the economy must get better first before such a proposal could be adapted by Norway and the best way for Norway’s economy to get better is for petroleum prices to rise and for Norway to continue exporting petroleum.

  29. If the idea here was that the headline justified the rest of the article then I agree. Doug