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back to article When poor people pollute - the Tata Nano and eco-crime

It's small, it's cheap, it's low emission so... the arrival of the Tata Nano, India's new 'people's car', has been greeted by a wailing and a gnashing of the teeth from the environmental aristocracy. The prospect of millions of the global peasantry driving, emitting and pushing up 'our' gas prices is a nightmare. It promises to …

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like fucking for virginity

Ummm... how can I put this? Unless what are coyly referred to as "precautions" are taken then, yes, fucking *will* produce virgins. Nine months later, give or take a few days.

I'd be interested to learn how globalisation, which appears to inevitably produce vast amounts of carbon-fuel-based transport over large distances, reduces future golbal warming. I'm not calling the statement into doubt, but it would be useful to know more. Giz an extra page of information, it's not as if it's Friday morning and you need to knock off quick to go down the pub.

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I whonder what they say about

Good old american gas guzzling engineering then?

How many Nano's = 1 Hummer?

I think we should have some Enviro Top Trumps.

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excellent article

many thanks.

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Paris Hilton

It is only a replacement vehicle

Lets face it, most of these Tatas are going to be snapped up by India's 'yuppie' families, they are replacing low-tech two stroke scooters and motorbikes with a modern (catalysed?) car. At a local level it may reduce pollution and it isnt a step change in the usage of petrol driven vehicles. It's not like millions people will suddenly appear out of nowhere clutching a wadge of cash to buy them is it?

Paris - for being an eejit to think that the new Tata owners dont already have some other form of transport.

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Biggest problem about the Nano

Is that it is going to increase Indian oil imports, with China's own burgeoning car population hot on its heels. These two new oil-hungry economies are going to force the price of a barrel ever higher. Painful for us in the West, potentially disastrous for African countries dependent on oil imports and the very poor in these emerging economies.

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Tip for Daniel and Judi

Want to make a difference to the environment?

Drive a Tata Nano

(bet there's at LEAST one SUV between them)

Geez...

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Unhappy

There's that Elephant again

This guys seems to think economic growth is a bigger threat that population growth. Incorrect: remove population growth, and watch the economic growth slow to more sustainable levels. The economy grows to meet the demands of its's consumers, not the other way round.

Said it before, I'll say it again: Control the population numbers (and if any place in the world needs it, it's India), and everything else will follow.

Who gets the lethal injection though, is the trickier question.

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Value vs consumption

How does making a microchip out of silicon consume no more resources than making sandpaper out of it? That doesn't make sense to me at all.

It may consume the same amount of sand, but is that actually the only resource used to produce microchips and sandpaper? I would have thought it took a lot more energy, complex chemistry and resource-intensive machinery to produce the microchip and a bit of paper and some glue to make sandpaper.

I am not an economist by any means so the intuitive criticism that economics appears to depend on a constant increase in resource consumption looks logical to me but I would love to understand why it doesn't work like that.

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Poor People

It seems the eco-aristocracy finds poor people most inconvenient. Apparently it's OK to fly off to some eco-tourist destination (with a carbon offset contribution) but cheap Ryanair flights for the masses (surely emitting far less carbon per head) are the great evil.

Likewsie they get to drive their Lexus hybrid, but got forbid that some Indians get about their staion and think they should be allowed a basic car.

I request a "Hot Air" Icon for flagging eco-bollocks.

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Globalization is just transport?

And here I was thinking globalization was more than just shuffling physical items around the world in petrol-powered boxes.

The amount of 'trade' which occurs purely electronically is growing exponentially whilst the amount which involves physical items being transferred isn't growing all that much in terms of transaction volumes, just the distance that items are being transported.

So eventually the physical trade will level off and the continued increase in trade will be electronic - perhaps even replacing some of the physical item trade.

Interesting article which highlights the deeply conservative nature of some of the green movement (which is a very worthy cause which seems to be getting polluted with some very dodgy statistics lately)

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I think the Tata Nano is a good idea

Apparently the boss of Tata said he launched the Nano because he didn't see why ordinary Indian families should go round precariously balancing babies, mothers-in-law, chickens etc. on mopeds.

I think he's probably also interested in making some money, but nevertheless I was scared shitless by the traffic when I was in Delhi, so it's nice to know that it's not just my effete Western sensibilities that are concerned about it.

I can't pretend to know about the climate issues involved (who can?) but to me it seems like one more step towards a better standard of living - along with roads, sanitation, health care, education and all the other things you aspire to when you haven't got them.

Let's be fair, no-one is going to build a network of windmill-powered maglevs around India any time soon, so the Nano isn't such a bad replacement for all those old mopeds and Hindustan Ambassadors.

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Re: Value vs comsumption

"I am not an economist by any means so the intuitive criticism that economics appears to depend on a constant increase in resource consumption looks logical to me but I would love to understand why it doesn't work like that."

Same here.

As I always understood it, even Adam Smith saw increased production as one of the most important gains to be made from increased efficiency, no less so than the lower unit cost.

Re:There's that Elephant again

(@Anonymous Coward)

"Who gets the lethal injection though, is the trickier question."

Anonymous cowa<NO CARRIER>

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I want a Nano!

If only they did a little diesel one I could convert to SVO. That would be awesome. Although that thing's dinky little wheels wouldn't stand up to Glasgow's roads too well I suspect.

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@Anonymous coward (15:18), re:population growth

You may think it's a good idea to reduce population growth, but hasn't it occurred to you that the next generation will be raised by the people who disagree with you?

The future belongs to those who show up for it.

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@elephant

So far as economic growth goes, you have to face up to the point that the overwhelming majority of the world's population is so far below our living standard that the planet cannot support everyone having central heating, a car, TV, nice furniture and all the other trappings of contemporary western life.

Hell, one third of the world's population doesn't have *any* electricity at all. When the sun goes down, their lives just stop. So even getting them up to "poverty" level would take a huge amount of CO2 emission. Keeping them there, even more.

Ask yourself this: (c'mon everyone, you can all take part) which is better, to keep the climate as it is now, or to stop 2 billion people from dying early? Hint: you can't have both, unless their carbon emissions come directly from you

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Most Tata Nanos will replace something much worse

I've not been to India, but if it is anything like the Philippines, then the roads will already be completely full of smoke-belching home-made rubbish. Mobile contraptions made from welded-up rebar, powered by clapped-out lawnmower engines trailing heaps and lumps of thick smoke. Jeepneys powered by long-expired diesel engines junked in other countries. It's so bad that the local police work very hard to take the 'smoke belchers' off the road.

So, please don't think of the Nano in terms of millions of people that have been staying home for the past ten thousand years (huh?) suddenly being given cars. That doesn't even make sense. Think of it terms of 'modernizing the fleet' (which is a VERY good thing). The road network (already full) will set hard limits on how many added vehicles are feasible.

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Some more

A few answers:

"globalisation, which appears to inevitably produce vast amounts of carbon-fuel-based transport over large distances, reduces future golbal warming."

What we're interested in is total emissions, not just emissions from transport. Growing tomatoes in the sun in Spain and shipping them to the UK will have lower emissions that growing tomatoes in a hothouse in the UK. Raising lamb in New Zealand and shipping it to the UK has lower emissions than raising same in heated sheds in Northumberland. Both of those have recently been shown to be true BTW.

Of course, the very reason we have trade at all is because we use fewer resources that way: we measure the use of resources by how much something costs and none of us buys something which we can do ourselves more cheaply. With CO2 that isn't included in the price structure, which is where all hte problems are coming from.

"force the price of a barrel ever higher." Excellent, so we'll all use less, isn't that a good thing.

"Control the population numbers (and if any place in the world needs it, it's India), and everything else will follow.

Who gets the lethal injection though, is the trickier question."

No lethal injections needed. Birth rates go down as people get richer. Happened everywhere people have indeed got rich so far.

"I am not an economist by any means so the intuitive criticism that economics appears to depend on a constant increase in resource consumption looks logical to me but I would love to understand why it doesn't work like that."

Yes, more resources go into both than just the sand. It's an example of a point, that's all. GDP is the measure we use of economic growth. But it isn't a measure of the resources used. It's actually a measure of the value added in an economy.

To be formally accurate, it is possible that a growing economy will use more resources. But it is not necessary that a growing economy use more resources. An economy can grow by using the same resources more efficiently: we even have a word for that, productivity.

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resource consumption

Production of value doesn't have to consume resources in proportion to the value produced. Karl Marx made this mistake in the 19th century. Software is the canonical example of a good that adds value way out of proportion to the cost of the resources put in. Sometimes value comes simply from specialization.

I am continuously amazed by the moral flexibility of the developed world, particularly the US, who whine about ecological catastrophes in the third world. Deforestation? Bad Thing. We know. We logged 98% of the forest in the US, and it's a bummer. Fossil fuels? Don't use 'em. We burned oil for 100 years and look what it did to the climate! Overfishing? Bad thing. Blah Blah Blah. Do what we say, not what we did. Yeah, it'll suck for your economy, but the alternative is us giving up our air conditioners and SUVs.

Biggest problem about the nano? It could probably be electric, but it isn't. Electric cars are harder to do, but the guys who figure it out are going to be richer than Exxon.

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Pirate

Elephant watch

Yep, that's the trouble with those pesky Malthusians, a sore lack of folk willing to be malthusised or to allow their kids or future kids to be malthusised.

Perhaps the proponents of this wonderful theory could set an example by volunteering to be first or maybe start arguing for another considerably more modest proposal

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I somehow do not see the Nano getting even picoMaintenance

All these reports and assumptions are based on wrong figures.

The right question here is what will it pollute after 3 years in the hands of a 3rd world village mechanic.

I have observed that with the early crop of of German second hand imports into Bulgaria and Romania 10-15 years ago. None of them got any maintenance (oil change once every 3 years, no filter changes, no antifreeze changes, etc) so by around 2001-2001 you could clearly see them on motorway from miles away. Raising columns of acrid smoke, burning as much oil as fuel. All emission control bypassed or hacked (catalysts ripped out along with lambda sensors). It looked like "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome".

3-5 years off the factory line and the Nano will not be any different from these horrid monstrousities.

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Coat

RE: Lethal Injections

"No lethal injections needed. Birth rates go down as people get richer. Happened everywhere people have indeed got rich so far."

In otherwords, the happier you are the less likely you need to do the rumpy-pumpy.

Strange that happieness comes from having enough money to put food on the table, a decent roof over your heads, and the occasional vacation.

(Mind you, a little eugenics *could* be used down here in the SE USA... goddess knows we could use a thinning of the redneck/trailer trash population.)

if (coat == TRUE) { exit; }

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@breakfast

For someone who has "environmental aristocracy" in their first few lines, do you really expect them to think of anything that may make this a bad idea?

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@Kurt Guntheroth

"Yeah, it'll suck for your economy, but the alternative is us giving up our air conditioners and SUVs."

You know, you might be onto something there.

I wonder how much of that outcry is based on: If those poor people start actually using gazillions of cars, then they'll actually use their carbon credits, and we can't pretend to be oh-so-green and oh-so-morally-superior for buying their carbon credits for peanuts.

Also, how much of it is really just shock at the fact that they're getting an industry of their own.

Thing is, it seems to me we've not been getting upset when they buy western world cars. I know that a lot of the car manufacturers here are trying hard to sell cars to the Chinese and Indians and whatnot. And noone is outraged at that.

I mean, think about it. Cars producing CO2, is cars producing CO2, is cars producing CO2. Whether it's a new Tata or a rusty third-hand 1945 Volkswagen Bettle, it still produces CO2. (In fact, as many pointed out, the Tata might actually produce less.) But while we're busy getting outraged at the former, we find the latter perfectly ok. It's _ok_ for them to pollute the planet, as long as they buy shit from us to pollute with. It's an outrage and an eco catastrophe only when they start producing their own shit, with their own companies, not owned by the west. _Then_ it's an outrage.

Just an unpleasant thought. And it's the kind of thought that makes me fundamentally disgusted at half the save-the-planet zealots.

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ecconomics is not easy as much is counter to intuition

1) Yes, the nano will probaly emit less than the vehicle it replaces.

2) the price of fuel going up and the limits of infrastucture will limit the number of users.

3) expectations from units like the Namo will encourage investments in alternative transit.

4) Shipping stuff by Sea is actually less expensive and therefor likely polutes less than shipping by road, Higher prices fuel will encourage surface shipment as the cost to ship by air becomes a higher percentage of the value of the goods.

5) As folks get more civilised the Birth rate goes way down. This is why Canada is wringing its hands about the dependancy ratio. (How many workers are going to be around to pay my pension) India and china will reduce their population growth as they get richer.

6) technology will offer alternatives like Wind, solar and tidal power which will become more attractive as costs decline and fosil fuels become more expensive.

7) more expensive fuel will make cars like the nao more accetible in what is currently the first world,starting in Europew where the fuel price is already higher than here in North America.

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Unwashed?

"all of them predict that the great unwashed will indeed have transport"

You'd better have meant this in a sarcastic sense. If not, I find it very offensive.

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Even More

Vikram: yes, sarcasm.

"Hell, one third of the world's population doesn't have *any* electricity at all. When the sun goes down, their lives just stop. So even getting them up to "poverty" level would take a huge amount of CO2 emission. Keeping them there, even more."

Quite, which is why the link to the SRES in the piece. Try reading the basic assumptions of the A1 family. in 2100 the average human being will live like the average American did in 2000. That's their *starting* point, the one that leads to the very estimates of global warming that the IPCC tells us about (more technically, to the higher end ones if we don't do something about it, like reduce carbon use).

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The Great Unwashed

Chill out Vikram. From the urban dictionary:

"Coined by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, "the great unwashed" refers to the lower classes."

It's an old English idiom referring to *all* peasantry and I imagine the author was referring to the class bigotry evident in some of the more strident climate change arguments (against things like the Nano).

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J
Pirate

Yep...

The poor will get richer, someday. There's not enough planet for everybody to be comfortable, let alone US levels comfy, sad but true. Those will be interesting times.

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for large values of 2 : 2+2=5

50 mpg(us) = 4,7l/100km 4,7lpetrol/100km * 2,3kg co2/lpetrol = 10,81kgco2/100km = 108g/km

50 mpg(imp) =5,64l/100km 5,61lpetrol/100km * 2,3kg co2/lpetrol = 12,9kgco2/100km = 129g/km

I would not rely on Tatas figures for co2 emissions. A catalyst will only rectify problems concerning incomplete combustion. It cannot reduce emissions of co2. Most likely the PR department mislaid the "1" before the "30g/km"...

"At that emission rate, doing 20,000 km a year each car will produce 600 kg of CO2: one hundred million of them on the roads would be less than 1 per cent of current emissions of over 6 Gtonnes. No, not substantial then. "

Mutiply by four... Still not worried?

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Black Helicopters

Politics dressed as counter-politics

"You may think it's a good idea to reduce population growth, but hasn't it occurred to you that the next generation will be raised by the people who disagree with you?"

Hence the movement's intense need for getting government control *now*. As has been demonstrated by Charles, the concern is mostly about who has control. Someone's gonna die, they say, we'd better make sure it's not us.

What the eco movement essentially claims is that human beings generally are too stupid to be in charge of their own lives, therefore 'us greater luminaries' must do their decision-making for them. While I'm sure people could find evidence to support that position, I can't help but think that when people believe that, they almost always end up being the stupidest out of all of us!

"The future belongs to those who show up for it."

That's going in my quotebook!

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Increased oil prices?

More demand for oil causes the price of oil to increase. Increasing oil prices inevitably lower the demand for oil. Always.

Either oil use efficiency will increase or an alternative fuel (energy source) will be developed. Where is the problem? Aren't we trying to reduce the use of oil as an energy source? Even if the USA moves to coal derived liquid fuels, it still reduces the energy needed to transport the energy from distant lands.

I fail to see the problem. Although, there will be an increase in transport fuel costs in the near term.

Craig

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Roads and mechanics

@Geoff Mackenzie

It's meant for Indian roads so surely it should negotiate Glaswegian roads fine. Unless Glasgow's roads have degenerated to larger potholes than Delhi since last time I visited either?

@Anton Ivanov

Second hand German imports to Bulgaria and Romania probably had those problems because the Bulgarian and Romanian mechanics didn't have the equipment and knowledge to deal with new German cars full of electronics and suchlike. I suspect lower tech cars had no such problems. The Tata Nano is an Indian car for the Indian market so the technology is presumably adapted to the abilities and equipment normally available to Indian mechanics. This is exactly why, if you ever go to 3rd world countries, you will see a lot of old cars in perfect working order: they are low tech and can be repared locally with locally sourced spares.

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@Kurt

"I am continuously amazed by the moral flexibility of the developed world, particularly the US, who whine about ecological catastrophes in the third world. Deforestation? Bad Thing. We know. We logged 98% of the forest in the US, and it's a bummer. Fossil fuels? Don't use 'em. We burned oil for 100 years and look what it did to the climate! Overfishing? Bad thing. Blah Blah Blah. Do what we say, not what we did. Yeah, it'll suck for your economy, but the alternative is us giving up our air conditioners and SUVs."

Well that's one way of looking at it; the other is 'learning from history'. When every country that has so far deforested itself to death is regretting it, and every 'developed' country that still has substantial forest cover is devoting substantial resources to keeping it, that might be a good hint that those countries fortunate enough still to have lots of trees should probably make some effort to hang onto them. Of course, there is always an odd silence on the best way to do this (kick out the multinationals who ultimately profit from the deforestation and slap a big tariff on the resulting exports) as it doesn't fit in with our economic ideals.

(A fairly common trope in science fiction is for wood, in the future, to be a really, really expensive luxury item due to its scarcity...)

But yes, it rather depends on tone. I don't have much time for the SUV drivers bemoaning Nano emissions, but I do think India could do with some strong government which might question this development direction. You'd think the current state of America would give some governments of rapidly developing economies some pause for thought about e.g. modern mass transit infrastructure, but it appears they're just going the way of all past governments in the same situation (spend all your money on big guns and let the rest rot). Someone above says the capacity of the road infrastructure will limit the amount of these cars it's practical to sell, but of course what will happen is you'll get a big bloc of new car owners pushing the government to build more roads, they'll do so, and before you know it half of India will look like your average U.S. suburban area; gigantic sprawling low-density development, not a bus or train in sight.

Well, doesn't that sound like a fun prospect. :\

Yes, there's an element of hypocrisy to it, but there's also a genuine hope that maybe the rest of the world can avoid the mistakes we made and wind up with much more livable environments, but alas, it doesn't seem to be happening.

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so...

so it's ok that the west has been spewing shitloads of all kinds of noxious stuff into the atmosphere for over a hundred years, but when 3rd world countries finally get a chance to develop, you read them the riot act...bloody hypocrites...

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Re: for large values of 2 : 2+2=5

"Mutiply by four... Still not worried?"

Still not worried.

Last I've heard, all human activities combined accounted for something like 2% of the total greenhouse effect. (Water vapour is a mild greenhouse gas too, btw. And methane is farted by wild herbivores too. Etc.)

We may argue that those 2% are still a lot. After all, a global warming of 1C is about 0.3% increase in absolute temperature. So maybe that 2% increase is causing it after all.

But still, we're not the lion's share.

So now you're telling me that the Tatas will, umm, account for a shocking total of 4% out of 2% of the greenhouse effect. Sorry mate, I fail to be scared there.

To put it even more in perspective, it becomes a lot less when you look at the carbon output projections for a decade or so into the future. They won't have 100,000,000 Tatas up and running over night. So we're looking at that in the context of an alread predicted increase, as the article pointed out. We've already factored in that it will increase. And that figure, even multiplied by 4, is just an even tinier part of the predicted increase.

But, before all, because I still find it repulsive to say that 2-3 billion people (including China, etc) should stay poor and be deprived of cars, just so we can continue to drive sports cars and SUVs. I'll join in the chorus that India should limit its number of cars, when the western world does the same about its own cars. If it does, then fair is fair. But in the meantime, essentially, "someone should stay poor and have a hard life, so I can enjoy more luxuries" is an abominable moral position any way you want to slice it.

The "saving the planet" angle is facetious and disingenuous, when it's only _them_ who have to do sacrifices for it. It's like saying that you should take the bus, so I can drive my own car faster to work. Strapping some lame excuses and appeals to emotion to the argument, only makes it lamer. At the end of the day it still remains, "you should have it worse, so I can have it better."

Strapping a "but it's to save us all" excuse onto it, only really works if we're all in it together. If you should do the effort, and all _I_ have to do is look morally superior, then that doesn't make it a common cause or effort. It just makes me an ar*ehole.

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Paris Hilton

Gordon Gecko

Greed is good !

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Everyone Own a Car? Sure, find your own planet!

The industrial revolution has been over for quite some time.

Combustion was a product of the industrial revolution.

It's time to find a new fuel, a new method, and get over the "self" and ownership models.

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@Hans

Last you BOTHERED to read about.

What's the temperature the earth should be if there was no GHG? about 50 degrees cooler (I think, but if you can't check either, we'll go with that).

2%of that is 1 degree. Again, I believe this is low, but if you contest 50deg, check the 2%, yeah.

And our fuel consumption is increasing while the ability of the system to absorb CO2 is erducing (plants need water, CO2, nirtogen, potassium, etc, so increasing CO2 without increasing the rest isn't going to help much).

And, since this is an artificial increase, there's no going down, so it will be 2 degrees.

But how much bigger will the desserts become at that? How much smaller the ice caps? How much more wind energy will be there, how much more rain (and how many more hurricanes)?

Oh, and higher temps, more water vapour (higher water vapour pressure possible) and the more water contributes, which means more water....

We have produced more than half the changes in temperatures. This is worked out because models that predict past weather from a starting point in the further past progress to a climatology that does mirror what the records say. A lot of frigs and so on, but if they work when taking a 150-year old weather report and running the model for the next 50 years THEN checking against the records for those 50 years works, there's no real need to change the frig factors for the last 50 year's climate when taking the 50-year-old weather report and running those exact same models.

Now when the last 50 years only match when you add in the human created factors and cannot by any means be made to fit without them, you know that the human factors are needed.

So we are only able to explain what HAPPENED when we include what we did.

To deny that is to deny science any ability to predict. We can't SEE atoms, we don't KNOW what elecrons are, nor why they seem to occupy "shells". We have mathematical models with fiddled constants that produce the right answers, though. And with those models, we predicted how to make lasers. How to make red LED lasers and how to create blue ones (so now we have white LEDs).

Not because we KNOW what an electron does in a semiconductor but that our best model description seems to work in helping us predict what to change to get the answer we're looking for.

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@ Tim

"No lethal injections needed. Birth rates go down as people get richer. Happened everywhere people have indeed got rich so far."

As a rule, poor nations are agrarian, and have a high infant mortality rate. As a consequence, the birth rate is higher to (1) compensate for the high infant mortality rate, and (2) increase the available number of "free" fieldhands helping Dad (and often Mom, too) on the property.

Overcompensation is the rule, leading to overpopulation. Want these people to stop having a dozen kids per couple? Make them "rich" by their standards (or "poverty level" by Western standards) and they won't see the need for 12 kids.

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Heart

Population increases

"Hell, one third of the world's population doesn't have *any* electricity at all. When the sun goes down, their lives just stop. So even getting them up to "poverty" level would take a huge amount of CO2 emission. Keeping them there, even more."

I'm sure that they find something to do after dark.

In fact providing an alternative to it might just help to keep the global population down...

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Will the Tata replace more polluting vehicles?

The Tata may well be "only a replacement vehicle" for the yuppie family that buys it but what happens to the vehicle it replaced? Isn't the second-hand market going to be flooded with low tech vehicles that will be snapped up by the next social strata? And so the cycle repeats while everyone tries to upgrade? Net result - more pollution.

We can hardly blame the people in developing countries for wanting to lead our decadent western lifestyle but there isn't enough resources to support it. So what do we do? Tell them to get stuffed or find an equitable solution?

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Anonymous Coward

Not the big problem.

1 in 7 barrels of oil extracted worldwide are burned on America's roads

If cars in the US were on average as fuel efficient as cars in Europe, the US would save the amount of oil output by Iran each year.

So if you want to reduce global emissions, you know where to start.

(sources: Alan Greenspan for the first, the German minister for Europe for the second - forget his name).

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Joke

The Homeless

Those Tata nanos will make great homes for some people, even if the roads are grid locked.

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Growth?

From the article: "growth is not defined by nor is it dependent upon the consumption of resources. It's defined as the addition of value to them"

I would agree with that, but feel a need to point out that you need resources either way. Our current penchant for little, low resource, short lived, disposible, electronic devices is just covering up the reality... like selling candy floss at the fair. You pay 2 dollars for 2 cents worth of sugar. Big deal. Now you're better off and the other guy isn't. That's economics... but not growth.

Here in Canada we have a huge amout of very poor people, many live in the street. The US also has a high poverty level. I've seen kids with rickets there! My point is that our current "economic growth" is a sham. Anything with any real value such as soil, water, or metals, is getting either rare, or unaffordable by most people. We are NOT growing.

When I was young, people were called homeless if they didn't have a house. Then it was if you didn't have an apartment. Now it's if you live on the street. We're going backwards and the reason is that we don't have enough resourses for all of us to live "the good life". Making little plastic gadgets and selling them isn't going to help. An ipod has little "value". Give us land and water, that's what we all need. Not enough to go around? Well there you are then.

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Alert

The economicas of climate change

"Of course, the very reason we have trade at all is because we use fewer resources that way: we measure the use of resources by how much something costs and none of us buys something which we can do ourselves more cheaply."

Not necessarily a correct assumption. Personal example - I recently paid tradesmen to paint my house. The cost was probably 10 times the amount it would have cost me to do the job myself. So why did I make an economically irrational decision? Because purchase decisions are not always economically rational. People factor in other values, such as the value of time with the family, the benefit of not tying up many, many weekends in doing the job myself.

Similarly people do not make rational or fully informed decisions in the realm of the environment. I predict the net result of the choice of the 'holier than thou' westerners who want to 'save the globe' is to exterminate those poor unfortunates who live in poverty.

Some cretin somewhere has convinced a whole lot of wealthy, white, westerners that the planet is more valuable than the lives of the poor. Aren't human beings depraved.

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Dead Vulture

for large values of 2 : 2+2=5

Dreaming up figures for energy efficiency is nice for the marketing folks, but it is certain to get the engineers fired... or drunk... or dead... or just running away...

The writer of the article upon we are all trying to comment on in a nice and polite way, may have fallen under the influence of corporate spin. Or he may be ignorant of the slow progress of the improvements to the otto-engine. Or there may be a missing 100 grams of co2 somewhere. The latter is not trivial. If they really are absent, a team of Tata-engineers may rightfully be counted as equals to Newton, Leibnitz, Kepler...etc...) If ,on the other hand, normal figures corresponding to 50 mpg applies, it reduces the Tata-Nano to yet another tuk-tuk of no remarkable innovation.

These small grams of greenhouse gases are anyhow of no importance as they are absorbed into models. Nice... 400% more? Absorbed into model. Maybe this is the secret behind the low emissions claimed for the Tata-Nano : they have installed a robust and well behaving absorbent economically-derived environmental model into the tailpipe...

Most models do not survive contact with reality for very long...

One may wish that the same was true for economists, but they seem to cling on.

Maybe the reason is this: " If you are not part of the solution, lots of money can be made by prolonging the problem."

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@Anton

"The right question here is what will it pollute after 3 years in the hands of a 3rd world village mechanic."

No, it won't. Why do you think it has a two cylinder four stroke engine with very low power? Because it's a bulletproof construction.

Even a village mechanic can change oil and filter to that. Actually, anybody can.

"I have observed that with the early crop of of German second hand imports into Bulgaria and Romania 10-15 years ago. "

Yes and German high tech with 12 cylinder engine, latest available technology and latest gadgets is exactly the thing Nano has, right?

I smell strong smell of BS now. ( I have one of those, now 19 years old. Nano is definately something else.)

"3-5 years off the factory line and the Nano will not be any different from these horrid monstrousities."

This is also BS. Nano's engine is as simple as the one in the Enfield and it lasts 5 years without any maintenance, 10, if you chance the oil at some interval. It's proven technology already and any village mechanic can change oil to Enfield.

(Repairing CVT is another thing, but it's even harder to break than manual gearbox and usually lasts longer than car anyway.)

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@Geoff MacKenzie

IF the car has been designed with indian roads in mind, i think it should be fine almost everywhere. Just hang on till the car goes on the road and see how it handles or breaks down. then you may start importing :-)

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@Vikram Sethi

i suspect that you may be new to the Register. the "great unwashed" is nothing compared to the vitriol the readers of the register could pour if they want to! and try not to eb so touchy..please.

fellow indian

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so let me get this straight ...

.. the developed contries are getting more energy efficient, driving vehicles and industry with a bit less oil than years ago, so that's good ..

and the *new* problem are the slaves of China and poor of India perhaps getting some fruits from thier labor ?

so .. we just allow the Chinese to remain factory slaves, and India, people having limbs removed to increase thier begging *career*, right ?

I'd say ok, being an American, but it's very clear that Global Warming is a GOOD thing for man overall, just look at man's history over the last 15,000 years, and pray we don't start going into the next Ice Age soon, though it IS about time for it

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