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By Robert Rapier on Mar 14, 2012 with 21 responses

Global Warming Primer & Natural Gas Vehicles — R-Squared Energy TV Ep. 15

In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I answer questions about compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, and talk a little bit about global warming. Some of the topics discussed are:

  • The environmental footprint of a CNG vehicle versus an electric vehicle operating on natural gas-derived electricity
  • The prospects of CNG vehicles in the next 10 years
  • Why I generally do not write much about global warming
  • The basis of future climate change projections
  • The role of feedback mechanisms in climate change
  • The basis of the greenhouse effect
  • My concerns about the tenor of the debate
  • The real “carbon bomb” for the planet

Readers who have specific questions can send them to ask [at] consumerenergyreport [dot] com or leave the question after this post (at the original source). Consider subscribing to our YouTube channel where you’ll be able to view past and future videos.

Link to Original Article: Global Warming Primer & Natural Gas Vehicles — R-Squared Energy TV Ep. 15

By Robert Rapier

  1. By Ed Reid on March 14, 2012 at 9:59 am


    You certainly achieved your mission with this video. Nicely done.

    In your discussion of NGVs, you attributed their higher cost largely to the cost of EPA certification of the converted vehicles’ emissions performance. That is true, as far as it goes, though the fuel cylinders also add significant incremental cost.  Also note that NGV conversion vehicles, whether dedicated or dual fuel, are limited in performance by the compression ratio of the gasoline engine. Natural gas has an octane rating of ~130 and offers improved performance in higher compression ratio engines. Therefore, vehicles manufactured as dedicated Vs are capable of both improved performance and reduced emissions compared with converted vehicles.

    You are correct that Vs could be a ‘no brainer” for fleets. This could certainly be true for purpose-built, dedicated NGV minivans and pickup trucks used in local service and delivery fleets. UPS and others have run NGV demonstration programs. There are a significant number of city and airport buses operating on natural gas as well.

    • By Ed Reid on March 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

      NOTE: Two instances of “Vs” above should be “NGVs”. :-(

  2. By Andrew Holland on March 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Robert - 

    Great stuff on the climate debate. I think you and I agree on a great deal on the uncertainty of climate science. I particularly dislike when people start talking about the certainty of models.

    I would caution you about saying that ‘proponents’ tend to overstate their language. Maybe its just because I’m in Washington, and our dialogue is very different inside the beltway, but the loudest, angriest protesters I run into come from the other side. And, I should mention, some of the dirtiest tricks. You mention Peter Gleick stealing emails. Certainly that was wrong, but don’t you at least have to mention climategate, the repeated FOIA requests from Heartland, or Virignia Attorney General Cuccinelli’s suit against the UVA climate researchers?

    Regardless, it seems that we should operate under the precautionary principle here: we know that this could be really bad, so let’s take some prudent steps to both reduce the damage and mitigate the chances of it happening.

    But – the skeptical side won’t even consider that there’s a chance they’re wrong. So – like you say – we continue to do an uncontrolled experiment in our atmosphere. 

    • By Ed Reid on March 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm


      Gleick has publicly admitted fraudulently obtaining privileged Heartland documents, which is likely a felony. He has not admitted forging the “Strategy Document”, though it appears likely that he did that as well.

      Climategate appears to have been a leak perpetrated by an insider, who would be referred to as a “whistleblower” were he/she an insider at Heartland instead. The British police have not yet determined how the Climategate e-mails were obtained, though they are apparently still investigating.

      FOIA is the “law of the land”. It is intended to facilitate the release of information which has not been freely released by those who hold the information. It has been used by Heartland and others to attempt to obtain data and other information developed with government funding, which should have been in the public domain. It is hardly reasonable to blame Heartland, or others using the law, for the fact that they have had to use it to obtain access to information which would have been available anyway.

      Commonwealth of Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli is suing the University of Virginia, not the besainted Michael Mann, for the release of documents which the University initially reported it did not have, though it now admits that it does. Cuccinelli would only proceed against Mann if the documents indicate fraudulent activity on Mann’s part.

      Your final paragraph begins with a bit of hyperbole based on facts not in evidence.

      QUESTION: What “prudent steps” do you believe the precautionary principle would have all of the nations of the world take with regard to climate change? (As far as I can determine, there is no single, commonly accepted answer to that question.)

      • By Andrew Holland on March 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm

        Ed -

        I’m not sure how a statement like “this could be really bad” is hyperbole. You think there is zero chance a warming climate could happen? We have to talk in terms of risk spectrum here.

        Regardless – I’m on the record here on the prudent steps I would advocate, so I’ll just direct you to the Executive Summary of the report I helped write on Climate Change impacts on security, which you can find here.  Short answer, though, is that the common recipes of mitigation and energy efficiency are largely irrelevant. Instead, governments and security planners should prepare for efforts to adapt to changes in climate and weather, including possible non-linear shocks. Prioritizing disaster response planning is also a ‘win-win’ sort of proposition that should be a no-brainer. 

        Further, I would suggest targeting adaptation efforts at water supplies and food production because these are areas that are already under pressure around the world, and will continue to be regardless of the climate.

        So – focus on no-regrets “win-win” propositions like preparing food production and water resources for a changed climate, while prioritizing plans for disaster response. Is this prudent?

        With that – I’m not going to take over Robert’s comment feed. If you want to continue this, jump over to the comments on my blog here on Consumer Energy Report: Energy Security, Policy.

        • By Ed Reid on March 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm


          Last Paragraph begins: “But – the skeptical side won’t even consider that there’s a chance they’re wrong.” That is hyperbole based on facts not in evidence.

          NOTE: The link didn’t work.

    • By Robert Rapier on March 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Maybe its just because I’m in Washington, and our dialogue is very different inside the beltway, but the loudest, angriest protesters I run into come from the other side.

      I guess I expect better from the scientific community. I am not amused by the antics of Gleick, the hyperbole of Hansen, or the utter nastiness of Romm. Have you seen what Joe Romm does to people that he deems to be “deniers?” He goes into character assassination mode. Those are tactics that have no business in this discussion (although Joe McCarthy would approve). 

      With respect to Gleick, I predict that it will eventually come out (perhaps in court, under oath) that he forged the strategy document. It just looks too much like how a climate change advocate might think their opponents would think, but in reality misses the mark in a number of spots. And when this comes out, it is going to be ugly and unforgettable.


      • By Ed Reid on March 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm

        “And when this comes out, it is going to be ugly and unforgettable.”

        One can only hope!

  3. By perry1961 on March 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Proponents and sceptics agree on one thing. There’s a very simple solution to global warming. Block 1% of the sunlight reaching the planet. Use solar collecters with laser transmissions if you want some tangible benefits, or just do it on the cheap. Sprinkling tiny bits of tin foil in the upper atmosphere would work just fine. We can have the benefits of all that extra carbon without the downsides. People just need to stop sniping at each other and get ‘er done.

  4. By Jerry Unruh on March 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm



    I’m disappointed that you mentioned the excesses of Hansen, etc, without mentioning the death threats against him, Mann and other climate scientists.  Those seem more serious than hyperbole over the pipeline.

    • By Robert Rapier on March 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm


      I condemn that sort of thing from either side, but I am unaware of the death threats. Do you have a link?


      • By Jerry Unruh on March 16, 2012 at 9:57 am


        About a year ago or so Hansen put some of the vicious emails he had received on his website.  I’m sure if you contact him directly he would be glad to supply much of what he as received.  In addition, there have been intimations of such issues against other climate scientists on  As I’ve said before, I only reliably read and your blog and I seldom respond to any.  However, I’ve stumbled on to some very nasty blogs over climate change with quite vicious personal attacks.  I haven’t kept any of the references.

    • By Ed Reid on March 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Dr. Hansen is a NASA employee. If he received death threats, I trust he referred them to the FBI for investigation. I do not recall reading about anyone being arrested for threatening Hansen’s life. If the threats were e-mailed, I doubt the FBI would have much difficulty in identifying the perpetrators.

  5. By pat on March 16, 2012 at 2:32 am

    the expensive result of the precautionary principle in australia, where too much water was allowed to fill a huge dam (while the public suffered from water restrictions and increased water bills) because the CAGW alarmists suggested rains would no longer  fill our dams:

    16 March: Ninemsn Australia: Qld flood report strengthens case: lawyers
    Maurice Blackburn partner Rod Hodgson said the report, including its finding that Wivenhoe Dam’s operating manual was breached during the disaster, confirmed victims’ suspicions.
    “… too much water was allowed to accumulate in Wivenhoe Dam and the strategy for water releases was botched,” Mr Hodgson told reporters after the report’s release on Friday…

    Ipswich Councillor Paul Tully said the report was not the whitewash he’d expected.
    “It is quite explicit. It really opens the doors for a class action,” he said.
    “It is an opportunity for people who were not insured and lost everything to be able to recover something.”…
    The lawsuit could potentially run into the billions…



  6. By Bob Baldwin on March 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    We are working in Texas to pass a bill next year  called the Texas Natural Gas Act of 2013 that gives permission for everyone in Texas to convert their cars to NG using kits from around that world that are not EPA certified and much cheaper. This will probably reduce the cost of converting a vehicle by 40-50%. We will never succeed with NG with only 2% of cars that have a kit available that is certified by the EPA.

  7. By Warren Stephens on March 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

    The best backgrounder to (1) climate change science, (2) the IPCC models, and (3) the biggest potential alternative explanation are all together found in this one video presentation by physicist Dr Jasper Kirkby of CERN (the European science organization).  It lasts about an hour.

    CERN video from 2009:


    A very similar presentation by Dr Kirkby in 2011 is posted on youtube:


    The gist is this:

    The sum effect of mankind was estimated by the IPCC models to be 1.5 W/m2 of warming, with one assumption being that clouds had no net effect on temperature (there is no historical record of clouds, so nothing else could be assumed I suppose).

    But since clouds provide 30 W/m2 of net cooling effect, then if (repeat IF) clouds have actually changed by 5% then the 1.5 W/m2 effect current attributed to mankind would disappear.

    Some scientists have proposed that since the long term geological reconstruction of historical temperature (the ups and downs over thousands of years) correlates rather well with the geological record of cosmic radiation then if cosmic radiation can be linked scientifically with cloud formation (i.e. cloud nucleation) then the IPCC climate models are incorrect.

    Kirkby later published a research letter showing a physical mechanism was found linking cosmic radiation and cloud nucleation in Nature, Volume 476, August 2011.

  8. By Russ Finley on March 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Natural gas fleets are all over the place. I was following a cab yesterday that ran on it. Our garbage and recycling trucks run on it …big improvement over the diesels with their biodiesel blend.

  9. By Russ Finley on March 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm


     The following link may help put Hansen’s comments into perspective (I can’t get links to work in the comment field so you will have to copy and paste it):

    SolveClimate News: Can you explain why you have said it’s “game over” on the climate front if the Keystone XL pipeline is built?

    James Hansen: President George W. Bush said that the U.S. was addicted to oil. So what will the U.S. response to this situation be? Will it entail phasing out fossil fuels and moving to clean energy or borrowing the dirtiest needle from a fellow addict? That is the question facing President Obama.

    If he chooses the dirty needle it is game over because it will confirm that Obama was just greenwashing, like the other well-oiled coal-fired politicians with no real intention of solving the addiction. Canada is going to sell its dope, if it can find a buyer. So if the United States is buying the dirtiest stuff, it also surely will be going after oil in the deepest ocean, the Arctic, and shale deposits; and harvesting coal via mountaintop removal and long-wall mining. Obama will have decided he is a hopeless addict.

    SolveClimate News: You have referred to Keystone XL as the “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.” What actual effect would it have on the amount of carbon dioxide in the air?

    James Hansen: If released all at once, the known tar sands resource is equivalent to 150 parts per million. As is the case with other fossil fuel sources, the amount in the air declines to about 20 percent after 1,000 years. Of course, only a small fraction of the resource is economically recoverable at the moment. But if you decide you are going to continue your addiction and build a big pipeline to Texas, the economically extractable oil will steadily grow over time. Moreover the known resources would grow because there is plenty more to be discovered.

    Every seller will tell you his pile of pollution is small compared to the total pile on Earth, and that is correct.  What makes tar sands particularly odious is that the energy you get out in the end, per unit carbon dioxide, is poor. It’s equivalent to burning coal in your automobile. We simply cannot be that stupid if we want to preserve a planet for our children and grandchildren.

    I concur with Robert’s opinion that this oil will simply find another way into the world market if we don’t build the pipeline. If we don’t profit from it, somebody else will. Hansen assumed years ago that humanity would consume all of the oil in the ground. His hope was that we would leave some coal in the ground. But my state is preparing to export vast amounts of coal to China so even if we replace coal with nuclear in this country, it looks like we will simply export the coal we don’t burn. Hansen will likely arrive here soon to protest the coal trains heading for the export harbors.  I have a great deal of respect for the man. He is going to die trying.

    Robert’s perspective is practical. Hansen’s perspective is symbolic. He wants the U.S. to send a message to the world by rejecting the pipeline.

    Short of new low carbon energy technology that can compete with fossil fuels, I see no hope of ending humanity’s ongoing destruction of the biosphere. I share his concern for our grandchildren’s futures (although I don’t have any yet).

  10. By Russ Finley on March 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    On Global Warming:

    I often find myself in no-man’s land dodging the rocks being thrown by warring monkey troops.

    Global warming isn’t even the biggest concern when talking about humanity’s impact on the biosphere. From Transgressing identified and quantified planetary boundaries:

    Now, largely because of a rapidly growing reliance on fossil fuels and industrialized forms of agriculture, human activities have reached a level that could damage the systems that keep Earth in the desirable Holocene state.



    From a review I wrote about a book called Climate Cover-up:

    The book does a very thorough job of documenting the history of sometimes despicable attempts by various vested interests and contrarians to discredit climate science. There is no doubt which side holds the science high-ground on this issue and after reading this book there should be little doubt which side holds the moral high-ground.


    And from an article I wrote about The Armchair Climatologist:

    You know who I’m talking about, that stereotype who inevitably appears in the comment field armed with irrefutable evidence that climate change is a giant conspiracy theory. He dares other commenters to engage him in nuanced debate so he can bury them with the (erroneous) data he’s gleaned off the internet.

    As with the debate over dark matter, or string theory, or any number of other science topics, the debate over the “science” of climate change is between climate scientists using the scientific method. Real climatologists engage in debate in peer reviewed science journals.


    Note, the above article was rapidly moving up the ratings in Digg when it was thwarted by the Digg Patriots ( )


  11. By Natural Gas in PA on March 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    What about the 2012 Honda Civic, which operates on natural gas?

    • By Robert Rapier on March 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      It is about $10K more than the non-CNG version, which is my point about the cost of CNG vehicles needing to come down. My understanding is that this is largely due to EPA licensing requirements.


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