The coal problem by the numbers
Please copy and forward to your government representatives. WE NEED TO RAISE HELL ABOUT THIS! Are our government representatives nothing but special-interest dominated ignoramuses? CLICK HERE
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President Obama is staying very remote from the energy legislation discussions in Congress; he obviously knows what is going on. Why can't he lecture them about honesty and responsibility to their country?
By Hans J. Kugler, PhD; copyright c 2009.
While world scientists and president Obama agreed that CO2 reduction is the # 1 problem in global warming and energy-management, Congress is about to pass legislation that (according to our own EPA) "if the emissions limits go into effect, the US would use MORE carbon-dioxide heavy coal in 2020 than it did in 2005."
As a semi-retired chemistry professor, I did all the calculations myself; find detailed calculations reproduced below. Yet, because the numbers are truly staggering, I had a fellow chemistry professor check them, and I would also like to express my thanks to members of the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Energy Information Administration, WA.-DC, for looking over my calculations and conclusions to make sure that I didn't overlook anything.
The total US CO2 production is around 35 billion pounds/day (BPD).
At the present level of up-take (54% of 35 BPD = 19 BPD), trees and oceans are choking and dying.
To reverse this trend, and to bring nature back to homeostasis, a healthy equilibrium, we will have to dip below these 19 BPD, and bring CO2 levels down to about 15 BPD or less
(to allow for reversal of the previously done damage).
That means we need to achieve an overall CO2 reduction of at least (35 minus 15) 20 BPD.
a) There is nothing we can do about CO2 from natural sources, from humans, animals, and other sources like fires and volcanoes (minimum 3 BPD); see reference for amounts below.
b) Even if all passenger cars were electric (no CO2 produced), trucks were Natural Gas/electric (50% improved over today), and airplanes would be built with carbon fibers (lighter, improved fuel consumption), WE WOULD STILL NEED A MINIMUM OF CARBON FUELS, causing a minimum of 10 BPD of CO2).
c) Coal, at present, produces at least 9-12 BPD. The Energy Information Administration (Washington) tells me it is actually 13 BPM.
Adding it all up, we can see that we are already in trouble:
Coal (30 to 37% of total): 9-12 BPD. In reality 13 BPD (according to Energy Info, Washington)
Natural CO2 production (people, animals, other) minimum. 3 BPD.
Transportation (trucks, airplanes, ships, other) minimum, in reality. 10 BPD.
Total: 26 BPD.
BUT the level we have to reach to reverse nature dying is 15 BPD.
So, unless we get people and animals to stop breathing, cancel airplane flights, and find a better, non-CO2 producing way of transporting goods than trucks, the only way to reach this level is by cutting coal usage.
An Oxford University study
- - LA Times, OP-ED section, June 25, 09 - - shows that, with recent CO2 production levels, and CO2 increases in the near future, "that we have a 90% chance of undoing the conditions on Earth that allowed and supported the development of human civilization."
What our Washington legislators (paid off by coal interests? Pushed by Unions?) are doing is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done!
Now, again, please answer the question I asked at the beginning: Are our government representatives nothing but special-interest dominated ignoramuses?
Supporting references, calculations, fact:
A UCSD study showed that trees DO NOT grow faster when the level of CO2 is increased; leaf stomata (pores in leaves) narrow down, get smaller, in response to increased CO2 levels.
For facts and info about energy - environment - US energy independence - plug-in hybrids - CLICK HERE.
Calculations to show that US CO2 production is 35 MPD:
US carbon: 1.75 (billion tons of C/year) is 1,750,000,000 tons.
Divided by 365 = 4,790,000 tons of carbon per day.
One ton is 2,000 pounds, therefore
4,790,000 X 2,000 = 9,580,000,000 lbs/day = 9.58 billion lbs of carbon/day.
Convert C to CO2: 9.58 x 3.66 = 35 billion pounds of CO2/day.
See how we are getting closer to the previously calculated numbers?
Trees and oceans take care of 54% of that, leaving 46%:
35 x 0.46 = 16.1 billion lbs of CO2/day left over.
Reference for trees and oceans capacity to take care of only 54% of CO2.
Friday, Sept. 26, 2008, Energy-related Industries, Environmentalists, and Global Warming Denialists alike were shocked by the data of reports by international scientists. Every Newspaper and TV news reported the data by these international scientists that showed that the CO2 output last year INCREASED despite projections that it would decrease - - setting a course that would push beyond scientist' projected WORST CASE SCENARIO, leading to unexpected increases in temperature. An Intergovernmental Panel of Scientists previously warned that an increase of between 3.2 and 9.7 degrees Fahrenheit could trigger massive environmental changes like melting of the Greenland ice sheet and summer sea ice in the arctic (some of this is already happening), and that the total US Carbon (not CO2) output last year was 1.75 billion tons/year, equaling 35 Billion pounds of CO2 PER DAY. The reports also confirmed another scary fact: The capacity of forests and oceans to balance much of the CO2 is decreasing; during the past year these “natural sinks” have absorbed only 54% of the CO2, down from the 62% around 2002, and down three percent from 2006; in 2002 it was 62%.
Just previous to the publishing of these data ocean scientists presented studies that the excess of CO2 is causing ocean acidification and dying of reefs and ocean life. Our best bet to feed the ever growing population of this planet is to harvest the oceans. Yet, what does the world do? Everybody is treating the global waters as if this was the world's sewer. Would you eat fish raised in your toilet?
Facts about CO2 sequestering.
CO2-sequestering (capturing CO2 and pumping it underground) is only a short-term solution. Each one of these CO2 storage areas would be a time bomb in itself. CO2 is a gas, and accidental release (earthquake, simple earth movement, accident) of the CO2 – heavier than air – could suffocate entire countries.
Let me give you an example: The Great Plains Synfuels plant in North Dakota produces synthetic natural gas from lignite coal. Since 2000, the facility also captures CO2 from the "synthesis gas," an intermediate product, compresses that CO2, and transports it 300 kilometers by pipeline to the Weyburn oil field. There the flow of CO2, currently about 8,000 tons per day, is injected into the oil field to enhance oil production.
In order to shift the CO2 balance towards a healthy equilibrium, we would have to pump underground – EACH AND EVERY DAY - more than 1,200 times the amount sequestered at Weyburn. Each one of these CO2 storage areas would be a time bomb in itself. CO2 is a gas, and accidental release of the CO2 – heavier than air – could suffocate entire countries.
“More energy from the sun hits the earth in 1 hour than all of the energy consumed by humans in an entire year.” Nathan Lewis, California Institute of Technology.
What stands between us and Washington following a common-sense, honest approach?
Do we really have to ask? You already know the answer!
It’s called The Politics of Energy! El Toro Poo Poo!
The reality of CO2 and plant metabolism.
Nature is obviously choking on the excess CO2.
CO2 had always been referred to as a “plant nutrient” because plants and trees take in CO2 and produce oxygen. But any nutrient in excess can be dangerous; just think of yourself as living mostly on sugar - - - driving blood sugar levels crazy, exhausting the pancreas, inducing weight-gain, affecting your immune system and causing diabetes and depression.
That trees and oceans are only capable of balancing 54% of all the CO2 is most likely due to a decrease in plant metabolism - - taking in CO2, and giving off oxygen - - which, at least to some degree, is due to soot, blocking sunlight, the energy necessary for plants to convert CO2 into carbohydrates and O2 (oxygen). Blocking sunlight due to other factors, like not enough sunlight exposure due to shade from neighboring trees, is also a possibility.
7 billion tons of Carbon
US: 25% of that = 1.75 Bill tons of C/year, which is 35 Billion pounds of CO2/day.
Human, animals, others (volcanoes) CO2 production.
Humans and animals inhale oxygen, and exhale CO2. A single adult produces about 2 lbs of CO2/day. A rough estimate is that humans and animals produce about 1.2 billion pounds of CO2/day.
Solar – PV – already better than coal:
Already, says Tom Dinwoodie (founder of a market-leading solar firm and a new RMI Trustee), if you build side-by-side coal and solar plants of equal annual output in (say) New Jersey, starting now, then by the coal plant’s completion, the solar plant will be producing four times its peak output—and cheaper electricity.