New EPA Rules

carpollute2

This is no April Fools!  On April 1, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), in response to an Obama Administration directive, established new, more stringent Federal Rules that “set the first-ever national greenhouse gas emissions standards and will significantly increase the fuel economy of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the United States. “  According to Lisa P. Jackson, EPA Administrator, “cleaner car standards will be 950,000,000 tons of pollution cut from our skies. They will mean as much as $3,000 dollars in savings for drivers of 2016 model clean cars. And they will mean $2.3 billion dollars that can stay at home in our economy rather than buying oil from overseas.”  She continued, “. We expect to reduce greenhouse emissions by the equivalent of 42,000,000 cars over the life of the program.”

Basically, the new rules establish more stringent fuel economy standards under several programs including the Clean Air Act for vehicles manufactured for 2012 – 2016 model-years.  It will require automakers to reduce gas emissions by approximately 5% per year and strengthen fuel economy standards to 34.1 mpg average by 2016.

According to the EPA press release, “Climate change is the single greatest long-term global environmental challenge. Cars, SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks are responsible for almost 60 percent of all U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.”

The projects envisioned for this change include those within the auto industry that will ripple throughout the business community; more efficient engine design, new materials for all of the parts that go into making vehicles; glass, structural panels, interior parts, whatever.  Less weight means less energy to push (or pull) the vehicle along, so saving ounces adds up.  I’m sure that you can think of lots more projects that could enhance the vehicle’s performance; tire design, even new design for roads and road materials to make vehicles roll with less friction, new testing equipment and testing facilities.  While something like road design won’t make the vehicle more efficient per sec, in the long run, it may add to the reduction of carbon emissions and the overall point of these regulations.  More importantly to the project manager is the awareness of these problems and drivers of the “Green Wave”, will lead to identification of areas of need a vigilant project manager can step in and manage.  After all, we, as project managers, do want to be leading the charge, not trailing it.  For more information on the new regulations, see: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm

Information is a beautiful thing

IIB

As engineers (and project managers), we’re naturally attracted to the practical use – and conveyance – of good information.  Systems that take complicated or disparate information and “promote” it into knowledge and wisdom are, well, it sounds goofy, but they’re beautiful things.  There’s actually a whole science dedicated to the advancement of data to wisdom – see this link on the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom pyramid. That’s why we like a book like “The Back of the Napkin“, by Dan Roam.  He has a knack for taking an idea and illustrating it – and if you read the book he can show you how to do that yourself.

Microsoft Project and some of its add-in programs have this same effect on us.  If software can take a 500-component Work Breakdown Structure and generate a chart that shows us when resources will be short – we like that.  Alot.

So it’s no wonder that we had a sense of wonder when we came across a site called informationisbeautiful.net .  And we liked it even more when it featured several images – or rather diagrams – on “climate”.  We of course want to direct you to those but we also encourage you to spend a moment drifting though this site and gazing at the way in which they show how information can be presented in a form that is striking.  And it’s not only visual – one of their more recent posting has a music box (complete with music) represented by the planets’ orbits around our sun.   Creative, engaging stuff.

We’d like to direct your attention to one particular climate image regarding the skeptic and consensus view of climate change.  We don’t want to steer you to either side, we just want to have you look at the way in which the information is presented – balanced, with the data in the center and the opinions on the appropriate “side” of the “argument”.  Project managers can take a tip from this style of arbitration.  Get the facts on the table.  Put the information in perspective.

climate_skeptics_960wNow – we realize you won’t be able to read this tiny version of the chart, and that’s why we gave you this link to the image (click here).

We also provide you with a link to the main site (click here).

And, for completeness, the source of the consensus view (click here).

Sell the Prius and buy a stretch Hummer? Or not.

Evidently, the whole Climate Change thing (say some folks) is just vaporware.  Pun intended.

Today’s Boston Globe has a very telling article (read the whole thing here), with some poll statistics showing that people are backing off their stretch-hummerbelief in climate change.

To us, the most revealing statistic is this one: Just since 2008, the number of people who do not think “that global warming is happening” has doubled. It’s still an (ignorant, in our opinion) minority of 20%, but it’s 20% now, when it was 10% in 2008.   see the chart below.

And, according to the surveys, done by Yale and George Mason Universities,

Sixteen percent are considered “dismissive’’ – believing that global warming isn’t happening and is probably a hoax – up from poll-globalwarming7 percent in 2008. So the number who actually think this is a hoax, has MORE than doubled.

Here’s a quote from the article:

“This issue is so politically sensitive, scientists need to be careful they [focus] on the science and not advocacy. . . . The science is robust and can speak for itself,’’ said Adil Najam, a lead author of two Intergovernmental Panel assessments and director of Boston University’s Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. He said the recent errors do not undermine the fact that man is significantly contributing to global warming, “but the review process needs to be strengthened’’ for future reports.


Dyslexia is not equal to a hoax

One of the issues providing fuel (again, pun intended) for the cynics, is the fact that some of the scientific reporting has been sloppy.  Not good, ladies and gentlemen, please tighten up on this. Turns out that when one report cited the ice on the Himalayas would melt by 2035, they reversed a couple of numbers – it should have read 2350.  In scientific terms, of course, that’s a blink of the eye.  In talk-show host language, though, this is ammunition, baby.  It shows bias.  It proves that this is a hoax.  Damn lying scientists!  Proving their points with false facts! Give the talk show hosts a little nub like this and they will hang their hats on it.  Again, to quote the Globe, “the errors went beyond sloppiness and were troubling to scientists because advocacy group reports, no matter how robust, can give the perception of bias and are often not peer-reviewed – meaning they have not been vetted by independent scientists, as are studies published in scientific journals.”

More than one way to be wrong

The article also points out – quite correctly – that errors have probably also been made which underestimate the problem.  And even without errors, are we 100% sure that we have all of the effects in hand?  We may be missing an “accelerator” factor that actually would either increase the intensity or speed of some of the changes that have been detected, and may not even have detected or predicted other changes at all.

Have a look at the detailed poll below.

poll-globalwarming-full

Your comments wanted

What do YOU think? If you’re a cynic, where are you getting your energy (pun)? And if you are in the camp that thinks that there is a change to the climate initiated by millions of tons of GHGs (greenhouse gasses) produced by humankind, what’s keeping your belief level high despite the dyslexic and dumb dabbling of some of our scientists?