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Fight Global Warming... Burn Coal

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Mike Wilson, Nov 16, 2006.

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  1. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Pulled off the AP newswire this morning... interesting stuff.

    Here's another thought... remember in the 70s and 80s when they were trying to scare us with all this Nuclear Winter stuff? Well, if it gets to warm around here, blow off a few nukes on another atoll somewhere and cloud things up a bit. :bug:

    -- Mike


    Scientists: Pollution could combat global warming

    NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Air pollution may be just the thing to fight global warming, some scientists say.

    Prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate, said a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere could act as a "shade" from the sun's rays and help cool the planet.

    Reaction to the proposal here at the annual U.N. conference on climate change is a mix of caution, curiosity and some resignation to such "massive and drastic" operations, as the chief U.N. climatologist describes them.

    The Nobel Prize-winning scientist who first made the proposal is himself "not enthusiastic about it."

    "It was meant to startle the policymakers," said Paul J. Crutzen, of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. "If they don't take action much more strongly than they have in the past, then in the end we have to do experiments like this."

    Serious people are taking Crutzen's idea seriously. This weekend at Moffett Field, California, NASA's Ames Research Center hosts a closed-door, high-level workshop on the global haze proposal and other "geoengineering" ideas for fending off climate change.

    In Nairobi, meanwhile, hundreds of delegates were wrapping up a two-week conference expected to only slowly advance efforts to rein in greenhouse gases blamed for much of the 0.6-degree-Celsius (1-degree-Fahrenheit) rise in global temperatures in the past century.

    The 1997 Kyoto Protocol requires modest emission cutbacks by industrial countries -- but not the United States, the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, because it rejected Kyoto. Talks on what to do after Kyoto expires in 2012 are all but bogged down.

    When he published his proposal in the journal Climatic Change in August, Crutzen cited a "grossly disappointing international political response" to warming.

    The Dutch climatologist, awarded a 1995 Nobel in chemistry for his work uncovering the threat to Earth's atmospheric ozone layer, suggested that balloons bearing heavy guns be used to carry sulfates high aloft and fire them into the stratosphere.

    While carbon dioxide keeps heat from escaping Earth, substances such as sulfur dioxide, a common air pollutant, reflect solar radiation, helping cool the planet.

    Tom Wigley, a senior U.S. government climatologist, followed Crutzen's article with a paper of his own October 20 in the leading U.S. journal Science. Like Crutzen, Wigley cited the precedent of the huge volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.

    Pinatubo poured so much sulfurous debris into the stratosphere that it is believed it cooled the Earth by 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) for about a year.

    Wigley ran scenarios of stratospheric sulfate injection -- on the scale of Pinatubo's estimated 10 million tons of sulfur -- through supercomputer models of the climate, and reported that Crutzen's idea would, indeed, seem to work. Even half that amount per year would help, he wrote.

    A massive dissemination of pollutants would be needed every year or two, as the sulfates precipitate from the atmosphere in acid rain.

    The American scientist said a temporary shield would give political leaders more time to reduce human dependence on fossil fuels -- main source of greenhouse gases. He said experts must more closely study the feasibility of the idea and its possible effects on stratospheric chemistry.

    Nairobi conference participants agreed.

    "Yes, by all means, do all the research," Indian climatologist Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the 2,000-scientist U.N. network on climate change, said.

    But "if human beings take it upon themselves to carry out something as massive and drastic as this, we need to be absolutely sure there are no side effects," Pachauri said.

    Philip Clapp, a veteran campaigner for emissions controls to curb warming, also sounded a nervous note, saying, "We are already engaged in an uncontrolled experiment by injecting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."

    But Clapp, president of the U.S. group National Environmental Trust, said, "I certainly don't disagree with the urgency."

    American geophysicist Jonathan Pershing, of Washington's World Resources Institute, was also wary of unforeseen consequences, but said the idea might be worth considering "if down the road 25 years it becomes more and more severe because we didn't deal with the problem."

    By telephone from Germany, Crutzen said that's what he envisioned: global haze as a component for long-range planning. "The reception on the whole is more positive than I thought," he said.

    Pershing added, however, that reaction may hinge on who pushes the idea. "If it's the U.S., it might be perceived as an effort to avoid the problem," he said.

    NASA said this weekend's California conference will examine "methods to ameliorate the likelihood of progressively rising temperatures over the next decades." Other such U.S. government-sponsored events are scheduled to follow.

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  2. daninohio

    daninohio New Member

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    Fearless prediction: we'll have to stop using wood stoves with secondary combustion and Vogelzang will become the world leader in wood stove manufacturing. (That one's for Don.)
  3. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Photosynthesis?
  4. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    I don't get it. If that's true than why is it that evening temps typically are higher on cloudy evenings than on clear ones. I always thought it was because the clouds trapped some of the HEAT. Well, there goes that theory.
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Everybody just relax. I will cut the cat converter off of the 454 Suburban and have global warming solved by a week from Tuesday.
  6. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I'm pretty sure this is based on an experiment done by a guy who had theorized that condensation trails from jets were creating a cloud cover that was reflecting radiation back into space. I think I saw a NOVA or Learning Channel special on it.

    The only problem was he thought he would never be able to prove it unless he could measure the difference in evaporation rates with and without normal jet traffic. He put it on the back burner and figured he could never prove his theory experimentally and everyone was razzing him, so he left it alone. Until...

    9/11! All jet traffic was grounded for 3 or 4 days. He compared surface temps and evaporative rates from evaproative data on those 3 or 4 no fly days to historic data points (evaporative rates and temps are some of the oldest available scientific data points available) and found he was indeed correct.

    Scary to think that you might fight pollution with pollution and that cleaning up the air might accelerate global warming.
  7. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I hate the cold...when is it actually going to get warmer? Everyone talks about global warming as if it is a bad thing.

    Sad part is when you look at all the greehouse gasses in the atmosphere and consider their true "warming potential", we humans account for about 0.3% of the total. IF the Earth really is warming up, we'd be way better off to spend money to just adapt to the changes rather than try and change the global climate. Even at that, the Earth is historically a snowball with 10,000 year warm periods...of which the current one is about 10,000 years old. I'll bet a few hthousand years down the road (if we make it that long) we will wish we had more greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

    Corey
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think we can use normal %'s to measure eco-stuff. For instance, would we accept a .01% level of DDT (or LSD) in our water? I would think not. A little man-made crap can go a long way...just ask Mr. E-Coli

    Considering the pull that business has, they can pretty much tell us and the media anything they want. When you start digging deep, you see that a lot of "experts" take money from this company or that one.

    We recently had a thread here about "clean" coal burning plants and that new fancy web site (and TV commercials) that the coal industry is running. Listen carefully the commercial...the kid (about 11) says "By the time I leave college they will be building coal plants clean enough to ......etc.".....

    Wow, so in 12 years - if this happens and that happens, we may build the first plant to burn coal clean! Of course, the kids aren't telling us how much soot we will breathe until the vast majority of the industry actually moves over to this technology (I'd bet my KIDS will not be here to see that!)....

    PR, isn't it grand?
  9. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    says the left wing liberal mouthpiece of the hearth industry... ;-P

    -- Mike
  10. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Has anyone considered the amout of green house gasses produced by Mt St. Helens in 80? (or when ever it was that it blew up)

    Mana Loa? All the other volcanos? What is the comparison to Humans?

    I'll bet the earth wins...That said...I still believe we should impact the earth as little as possible.
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    No doubt the earth wins.....an "event" can outdo all the nuclear devices on the planet - but using the logic of these scientists, that means we should set them all off and maybe things will improve!

    And, Mike, like many left wing windbags, I am not sponsored and paid for my rhetoric! That's often the real difference....meaning we really beleive most of our own BS as opposed to getting paid for it. I guess that does make us the fools..... :zip:
  12. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Hate to inject science and stuff in here, but there's a pretty solid track record of particulates bloccking incoming shortwave radiation and producing cooling events - most notably Krakatoa, but more recently Pinatubo and St. Helens. And one of the things that helped keep the hurricanes at bay this year was the abundance of Saharan dust over the Atlantic - reduced the temps ever so slightly, and reduced the evap off the sea surface.

    There are actually a bunch (minority, but serious and growing) of earth scientists proposing things like lacing the upper atmosphere with sulfur to form particulates, as a means of abating global warming.
    I think they call it terrestrial engineering.

    Steve
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Did they explain how rain through the acids created by lacing the atmosphere with sulphur would be neutralized?
  14. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    BG - that was actually addressed. The place where any of this really matters is in the upper atmosphere, which is my main reservation onthe coal burning - most of that stays local. But the estimated change in acid rain was approximately 2%. I suspect that's a delivery of acid to the ground, whether through lower pH rainfall or more rain of the same pH.

    Steve
  15. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    This sounds like COUNTING on Tylenol to kill the hang over BERORE you start drinking, then drinking al lot.
  16. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I think it is fair to measure many things in percent...of course it is easier to reduce the range for things such as DDT, LSD, E-coli, etc. But for comparing natural atmospheric CO2 with man made CO2, percent should do just fine. Most pure science say the man made warming contribution is around 0.3% when you take into account water vapor, and the billions upon billions of tons of CO2 that naturally come from the biosphere...decaying plants, oceans, etc. I guess if you want to call the man made contribution 3000ppm to sound more dramatic, that can work as well.

    You are very correct that business, special interests, environazi's...anyone ...can absolutely tell the media anything they want...and usually get a big front page story the very next day. It's our job as knowledgeble individuals to dig down past all that...hopefully down to the pure science and indisputable research...if there ever is such a thing.

    As for the clean coal, I'm sure we could rebuild every coal plant in America in couple of years or so and run them on clean coal technology. Electricity would probably be $10 per KWh instead of $0.10, though. You'd likely have way more people dying of heat strokes from not being able to afford AC, food poisoning from not being able to afford refrigeration, starvation from not being able to afford to cook food...the list would go on.

    If any one energy source becomes very expensive, people will shift as much as possible to cheaper sources and hopefully try to reduce consumption. But it can't and won't happen over night.

    Corey
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I agree Corey. We could rebuild or reconfigure many of the exisiting coal plants in the US and require that all new coal plants are zero CO2 emissions. We have the technology to do this and remarkably, IGCC technology will prove cost effective. The Polk coal plant in Tampa has almost reached this point of cleanliness and it's profitable. This plant could do CO2 trapping as well, but lacks the mandate. Addressing the problem at the source is usually preferable to fire-fighting the symptoms. I think it's arrogant to think we can rebalance global warming with atmospheric experiments. Dramatically reducing carbon emissions quickly is a better long term plan.

    Sure it will cost for sequestering CO2 and is only a partial and temporary measure. We need better energy sources and efficiencies in the long term. But if we had the political will to do it, we could do it and relatively quickly. Estimated cost is about $100/ton of coal for capture and sequestering CO2. Globally, we burn about 2.5 billion (yep billion) tons of coal a year. So the cost would be about $250 billion a year - or about .5% of global GDP. A lot of money, but not ridiculous. A total rebuild of our global energy infrastructure is estimated at about $400 billion per year. The US share is maybe $100 billion/yr to rebuild our energy infrastructure and eliminate our primary contribution to global warming. Know any other place we are wasting this kind of money?

    All it takes is political will. So where do you want the dollars going? Is war a better alternative? This cost is small next to Iraq. This Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Lott, Mr. Boehner et all, is the issue of the day. Not more money for tuition, or immigration. A program like this will create a lot of jobs. It will require more engineers and drive better education. And it will give us hope.

    [/rant]
    references:
    http://www.aep.com/about/igcc/default.htm
    http://www.tampaelectric.com/news/powerstation/polk/IGCC/
    http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/futuregen/
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  19. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    It's apparently complex. Since the sun is out during the day and it's pretty hot unabated, it seems to win the heating cooling battle, but at night when Mr. Sun goes away, the predominant influence of clouds does seem to be retained warmth. It's just that the Sun portion of that cycle is dominant to the nighttime portion. (Got that from the Wikipedia entry).
  20. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Wow, opposing opinion was erased... amazing. Now yeah, perhaps the thread should have been moved to the Ash Can, which is where it belonged after a certain webmaster started spewing his francophile drivel, but really... to delete it... That's like rewriting history... How french!

    All in good fun, but if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen ;-P

    -- Mike
  21. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Mike, cast being mad at France for not helping us lose in Iraq has nothing to do with coal electric generation. Rather, cast likes to inject racism and whatever other dislike he has for every country and person in the world into a thread - and it does ruin the thread.

    Therefore I erase MY posts and yours/his in order to keep the thread on topic.

    If you want to hang out on neo-nazi, neo-con, french-haters, Brit-haters or any other similar site, I am certain you can find them. I'll allow quite a bit of political discourse in the ash can or - when it has at least something to do with the subject we discuss or energy.....

    If you like, I will suggest some sites where you might find a better audience.

    thanks
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