Digging for Coal Will Gradually End in Digging Our Own Graves

Ramanathan Menon | Oct 26, 2009

The 'God Almighty' or 'Mother Nature' had given us an enchanting planet, a planet that had everything in its surface for the humankind to live a happy and peaceful life. Everything that was evil was buried deep beneath the earth so that we are not tempted to see them, touch them or use them.

But we were not happy. We took a 'dig' at the God Almighty or Mother Nature. From that period of time all our present-day problems were born. We dug the earth for Gold. With that, we divided us into rich and poor. We dug the earth for Uranium. With that, we made weapons for our own extinction. We dug the earth for Oil. With that, we began arming the terrorists. Now we go on digging for coal and we are gasping for fresh air.

Coal, even if it is scientifically purified, or a cyanide capsule, if it is sweet coated, both has the same effect, the death. Only difference is that the former brings us slow death and the latter a quick end. We will never feel the pain if we die instantly, but we preferred a slow death by opting for coal to produce our electricity for lighting, heating and cooling while the SUN gives us all these freely and endlessly. When will we stop digging our own graves? It depends on the new awakening and the nature-loving culture of our future generation.

The U.K. based World Coal Institute (WCI) tells the world that the coal will last us for at least 122 years. That means, we should not panic about the depleting oil resources! 21st Century coal plants emit 40% less CO2 than the average 20th Century coal plants. A magnificent quality improvement. The use of coal will rise 60% over the next 20 years. That means the oxygen masks and oxygen cylinders manufacturers will have immediate business opportunities and the coffin makers thereafter.

According to WCI statistics, coal provides 26.5% of global primary energy needs and generates 41.5 of the world's electricity. The world produced 5,845 MT of hard coal and 951 MT of brown coal/lignite in the year 2008. The top ten hard coal producers during 2008 were: PR China (2,761 MT); USA (1,007MT); India(490MT); Australia (325MT); Russia (247MT); Indonesia (246MT); South Africa (236MT); Kazakhstan (104MT); Poland (84MT) and Colombia (79MT).

Global consumption of hard coal in the year 2008 was around 5,814 MT. This was shared by PR China (46%); OECD North America (18%); OECD Europe (7%) and OECD Pacific (6%).

Currently, coal is the major fuel used for generating electricity worldwide. Countries heavily dependent on coal for electricity two years ago include: South Africa (94%); Poland (93%); PR China (81%); Australia (76%); Israel (71%); Kazakshstan (70%); India (68%);Czech Rep. (62%); Morocco (57%);Greece (55%);USA (49%); and Germany (49%).

Ms. Niki Fears, a 35 year old writer based in St. Louis, had rightly said in her article that "Those who are pushing the "clean coal" agenda do not mention the fact that all of the methods that they are using to reduce emissions do not change the fact that mining and transporting coal is still a very dirty, and very dangerous business.

"The coal industry and coal mines pose a variety of dangers to people from both a structural stand point as well as the production and release of pollution causing agents. Coal mines can be incredibly unstable, release hazardous amounts of methane and produce coal dust that gets inhaled by workers causing serious, life threatening health problems such as black lung. It is important to remember the coal comes from deep beneath the earth which means that in order for it to end up in your local power plant, someone has to go down there, loosen the coal from the rock that it has been embedded in for thousands upon thousands of years, and transport it to the surface. This involves creating artificial tunnels that often lead miles beneath the surface of the earth. This poses substantial risk to mine integrity and can lead to the type of cave-ins and other tragedies you often see on the news."

"Additionally, digging these tunnels also exposes open pockets of methane, which is one of the most serious greenhouse gases, is highly explosive, and can be quite deadly. The environment in which miners are forced to work is not only extremely dangerous but endanger the miners' health leading to a number of fatal diseases, the most commonly known of which is black lung (also known as Coal Worker's pneumoconiosis) which is directly caused by exposure to coal dust which build up in the lungs of miners working with coal. Even when precautionary measures are taken, such as wearing a mask, it can not prevent coal dust from entering the lungs. This deadly dust then settles in the lungs and can block air passages. In the past 10 years, black lung disease alone has claimed the lives of over 10,000 coal workers. There is no cure for coal worker's pneumoconiosis."

"A symptomatic version of this disease may be found in nearly everyone living in urban settings where coal is burned. A recent study performed by in partnership by the WVU Institute for Health Policy Research and Washington State University showed that people merely living in coal mining communities with no direct contact with the mines themselves, were at higher risk for kidney disease and chronic lung and heart diseases. In fact they were found to be 70 times as likely to develop kidney disease and 64 times as likely to develop chronic lung diseases such as emphysema. Death rates in coal mining communities are higher than in other parts of the country, even among non-mine workers.

This trend of poor health is not only felt by communities that mine coal, but by those who use coal burning plants as well. The Less Coal group in Utah contributes $4-$6 Billion worth of medical costs imposed on the state due to the air pollution caused by coal and are working to take measures to reduce coal burning in their state and restore a healthier environment with cleaner air by eliminating coal burning power plants and factories. And, burning coal indoors has proven to be quite deadly as many communities around the world, such as China, are experiencing.

Considering the amount of pollution released by the production and use of coal and the deadly effects that it is having on our planet and our health, it is becoming clear that there can be nothing clean about such a dirty and deadly product. Clean coal is just a green packaging for a fossil fuel that is polluting our environment, making us sick, and killing thousands of us every year. Considering that there are safe, clean, and renewable sources of energy available, you have to ask yourself if maintaining the status quo with energy is really worth the price we are paying for it with our health and our lives?"

Let us hear what Wikipedia has to say about mining and burning the coal:

There are a number of adverse environmental effects of coal mining and burning, specially in power stations. These effects include: (1) Release of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which causes climate change and global warming according to the IPCC. Coal is the largest contributor to the human-made increase of CO2 in the air; (2) Generation of hundred of millions of tons of waste products, including fly ash, bottom ash, flue gas desulfurization sludge, that contain mercury, uranium, thorium, arsenic, and other heavy metals; (3) Acid rain from high sulfur coal; (4) Interference with groundwater and water table levels; (5)Contamination of land and waterways and destruction of homes from fly ash spills such as Kingston Fossil Plant coal fly ash slurry spill; (6) Impact of water use on flows of rivers and consequential impact on other land-uses; (7) Dust nuisance; (8) Subsidence above tunnels, sometimes damaging infrastructure.

Coal-fired power plants without effective fly ash capture are one of the largest sources of human-caused background radiation exposure. Coal-fired power plants shorten nearly 24,000 lives a year in the United States, including 2,800 from lung cancer. Coal-fired power plant releases emissions including mercury, selenium, and arsenic which are harmful to human health and the environment.

In coal the carbon content is between 92% and 98%. Coal when burned at power stations emits CO2 around 227 Lbs. of Carbon dioxide per million British thermal units (Btus) of energy or in simpler terms coal emits around 1.7 times as much carbon per unit of energy when burned. Coal contains about 80 percent more carbon per unit of energy than gas does, and oil contains about 40 percent more. For the typical U.S. household, a metric ton of carbon equals about 10,000 miles of driving at 25 miles per gallon of gasoline or about one year of home heating using a natural gas-fired furnace or about four months of electricity from coal-fired generation.

The World Bank (WB) is spending billions of pounds subsidising new coal-fired power stations in developing countries despite claiming that burning fossil fuels exposes the poor to catastrophic climate change. The bank, which has a goal of reducing poverty and is funded by Britain and other developed countries, calls on all nations to "act differently on climate change". While the WB says that the world must reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, it is also funding several giant coal-burning plants that will each emit millions of tons of carbon dioxide a year for the next 40 to 50 years.

Britain is contributing 400 million € to a World Bank fund that claims to support "clean technology" but is financing coal power plants. The bank's World Development Report says: "Developing countries are disproportionately affected by climate change -- a crisis that is not of their making and for which they are the least prepared. Increasing access to energy and other services using high-carbon technologies will produce more greenhouse gases, hence more climate change."

The report says that between 75 and 80 per cent of the damage caused by climate change through drought, floods and rising sea levels will happen in developing countries. It calls on richer nations, including Britain, to increase the amount that they spend on helping developing countries to adapt to climate change.

According to Marianne Fay, the bank's chief economist for sustainable development, coal was and is the cheapest and most secure way to deliver electricity to the 1.6billion people without it. She said: "There are a lot of poor countries which have coal reserves and for them it's the only option. The bank's policy is to continue funding coal to the extent that there is no alternative and to push for the most efficient coal plants possible. Frankly, it would be immoral at this stage to say, 'We want to have clean hands, therefore we are not going to touch coal'."

Tim Jones, policy officer of the World Development Movement, which campaigns to reduce poverty, said: "The World Bank is acting in the interests of Western countries and companies and not in the long-term interests of the world's poor.

It is an absolute disgrace that money meant for clean technologies will actually be used for building new coal power stations. Every pound of green aid that will be spent on funding coal power through the World Bank is money that should be spent on supporting renewable energy in developing countries.

This endorse the truth that 'you can not practice what you preach'!

According to James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and the first scientist to warn the US Congress of the dangers of climate change, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has already risen to a dangerous level. The pre-industrial carbon dioxide amount was 280 parts per million (ppm). Humans, by burning coal, oil and gas, have increased this to 385 ppm; it continues to grow by about 2 ppm per year.

Earth, with its four-kilometre-deep oceans, responds only slowly to changes of carbon dioxide. So the climate will continue to change, even if we make maximum effort to slow the growth of carbon dioxide. Arctic sea ice will melt away in the summer season within the next few decades. Mountain glaciers, providing fresh water for rivers that supply hundreds of millions of people, will disappear - practically all of the glaciers could be gone within 50 years - if carbon dioxide continues to increase at current rates. Coral reefs, harbouring a quarter of ocean species, are threatened.

The greatest danger hanging over our children and grandchildren is initiation of changes that will be irreversible on any time scale that humans can imagine. If coastal ice shelves buttressing the west Antarctic ice sheet continue to disintegrate, the sheet could disgorge into the ocean, raising sea levels by several metres in a century. Such rates of sea level change have occurred many times in Earth's history in response to global warming rates no higher than those of the past 30 years. Almost half of the world's great cities are located on coastlines.

The most threatening change, from Mr. Hansen's perspective, is extermination of species. Several times in Earth's history, rapid global warming occurred, apparently spurred by amplifying feedbacks. In each case, more than half of plant and animal species became extinct. New species came into being over tens and hundreds of thousands of years. But these are time scales and generations that we cannot imagine. If we drive our fellow species to extinction, we will leave a far more desolate planet for our descendants than the world we inherited from our elders.

Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know. Carbon dioxide would increase to 500 ppm or more. We would set the planet on a course to the ice-free state, with sea level 75 metres higher. Climatic disasters would occur continually. The tragedy of the situation, if we do not wake up in time, is that the changes that must be made to stabilise the atmosphere and climate make sense for other reasons. They would produce a healthier atmosphere, improved agricultural productivity, clean water and an ocean providing fish that are safe to eat.

Fossil-fuel reservoirs will dictate the actions needed to solve the problem. Oil, of which half the readily accessible reserves have already been burnt, is used in vehicles, so it's impractical to capture the carbon dioxide. This is likely to drive carbon dioxide levels to at least 400 ppm. But if we cut off the largest source of carbon dioxide - coal - it will be practical to bring carbon dioxide back to 350 ppm, lower still if we improve agricultural and forestry practices, increasing carbon storage in trees and soil.

Coal is not only the largest fossil fuel reservoir of carbon dioxide, it is the dirtiest fuel. Coal is polluting the world's oceans and streams with mercury, arsenic and other dangerous chemicals. The dirtiest trick that governments play on their citizens is the pretence that they are working on "clean coal" or that they will build power plants that are "capture-ready" in case technology is ever developed to capture all pollutants.

Before concluding, let me reiterate the facts that the trains carrying coal to thermal power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death and worst than Adolf Hitler's Nazi gas chambers.

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I don't care very much for Dr Hansen because he looks like a man who expects to take a blow at any time. If he had a little more charisma I might listen to him. At the same time let me say that I buy the AWG argument.

However, as I just told a conference in Italy, the anti-coal people are wasting their time, because only academics beating their gums at conferences insist on accepting a decline in their standard of living in order that the environment will be better in 100+ years. Ordinary people will never accept this sort of thing. And, as I am sure that you know, neither will most academics, regardless of what they say.

But you are right about "clean coal". I just hope that you or someone like you is at Copenhagen this December to give the message to the hypocrites.

A few comments.....

First, there is an old 'rule' that the first to invoke the Nazis in an argument has lost.

Second, James Hansen was also one of the coterie to predict global cooling. He performed the dubious simulation work at the time.

Third, ... this article reads like a sermon.

Finally, yes, coal has problems, but we have been dealing with them very effectively. Coal burning, while not yet perfectly "clean", is nevertheless much cleaner than in previous generations, at least in the US. You might well have cited the remarkable fact that, while the MWHs of energy derived from coal has grown over the past thirty years, the absolute levels of emitted pollution have fallen by at least 40% for both SO2 and NOX.

Mr. Menon is a true gentleman.

Yes, some of his writings do read like sermons, but all of his writings are true and backed up by facts.

I do agree with Mr. Banks about the 'ordinary' people. In general it is very hard to think 100 years ahead when you are struggling to pay for your next meal.

I am a proponent of solar energy use, both thermal and photovoltaic. The harder we work on these technologies, the sooner (still measured in 100s of years) we will solve some of our pollution problems.

When people making these various devices finally stop trying to make an inordinate amount of money instead of a small amount (like that made on various commodities such as food) the sooner all this will happen.


Larry Kelley
Shelby, MI 49455 USA

A thought provoking article backed by true facts. Mr.Ramanathan Menon is thoriough on every subject he writes. Let us hope policy makers and Governments will take serious note of the suggestions by Mr.Ramanathan Menon.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP)

"But if we cut off the largest source of carbon dioxide - coal - it will be practical to bring carbon dioxide back to 350 ppm, lower still if we improve agricultural and forestry practices, increasing carbon storage in trees and soil."

Atmospheric GHG concentrations, using CO2 as a proxy, began rising in ~1750, essentially at the onset of the industrial revolution, and approximately 100 years after global temperatures began to rise from the trough of the “Little Ice Age”. Global annual emissions of these GHGs, again using CO2 as a proxy, were `1/2000th of current emissions rates at that time. Therefore, logically, stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of these GHGs would require a reduction of emissions rates to or below the emissions rates at which the atmospheric concentrations began to increase. That would require global reductions of approximately 99.95% from current global emissions rates.

The advocates for “350? (Restore atmospheric concentrations of CO2 to 350 ppm.) go beyond that by requiring zero emissions plus extraction of some existing CO2 from the atmosphere.

I estimate the investment required globally to reach zero emissions at ~$150 trillion. Only God currently has any idea regarding the investment required to remove ~38 ppm from the current atmosphere.


I appreciate your comments on the advancements in pollution reduction in coal. In particular, mercury will get caught by some of the same technology that catches sulphur (or maybe its the other way around). But what coal people fail to acknowledge is that it's all about the CO2 at this point. Saying you are catching the SOx and NOx and Hg carries little weight at this point.


I think we crossed the 350 ppm point around 1988. So I don't think we'd need a 99.95% reduction. I can't cite an exact figure, but just as a "for instance", about half of the emitted CO2 from hydrocarbons has been absorbed by the oceans.

I found the above article overly dramatic (obviously) but also somewhat chilling. Not in its content, but in the passion for the desire to eliminate coal. Getting out of this mess with the minimum of pain will require messy compromises that will require tolerance from everyone. This may be hard for strident believers (on either side) to tolerate.


I suggest you rethink the logic of your comment above.

The groups advocating "350" acknowledge that it would require complete elimination of annual carbon emissions plus either a long wait or some undefined carbon extraction technology.



I understand the issues with getting CO2 levels from the present 385 to 350 ppm. But I'm not sure that industry running at the rate of the 1950s in terms of carbon emissions (for example) wouldn't stabilize at some level less than 350 ppm.

As far as I could read, 350.org doesn't say much of anything specifically about what needs to be done, other than to drastically lower CO2 emissions as soon as possible.



At the risk of re-igniting a flame war on agw, I am not convinced that the increase in CO2 is anthropogenic. I am not convinced that the increase is causing warming, nor that there even is any warming. There is considerable evidence to the contrary. My principal reason for doubting agw is that the "signature" of gw is missing from the middle troposphere in the tropics. It simply MUST be there, and it is not.

Yes, mercury emissions are problematic. However, there is emerging evidence from the University of North Dakota that mercury poisoning can be greatly mitigated by the inclusion of sufficient dietary selenium.


I have refrained for several days in commenting on the follow on comments to mine. Allow me to speak plainly. I think the author is nuts. "Digging our own graves", "gasping for fresh air", "factories of death" and so on. How can I take any fact that he presents seriously at face value when they are surrounded by such hyper-heated silliness?

Where did all that carbon in the coal come from? My theory is Mother nature has been doing an experiment now millions of years old on the effects of removing massive quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere and converting it to Carbon and Oxygen and I think it is time we stop this experimentation. Her storage of carbon directly as coal pales by comparison with her rather blatant and continued storage of C02 in carbonates.
She must be stopped before she brings a cataclysm upon us all. Burning coal to free its carbon and from C02 may help but as humans I feel we should do more. We need to combine the exothermic coal reaction with the endothermic calcining of limestone to foil her evil plot and return C02 to the atmosphere from where it came before her experimentation causes another mass extinction like the tragic Ices ages she has already facilitated.
According to Mathew Huber Antarctica was ice free until around 35 million years ago when the ice sheets rapidly formed. Antarctica had been Ice free for at least 100 million years previous to this time. According to Huber the likely culprit was loss of C02 in the atmosphere. The earth had been a warm wet planet then the planet cooled killing off almost all amphibians and reptiles along with many mammal species. It is time to do the right thing and reverse this sadistic cooling trend. We need to stop the uncontrolled sequestration of CO2 by these random natural forces and restore order and the previous balance to our world.
If we will not undertake the needed action for our selves we should think of our children and all the generations to follow and do it for them. Are we so egotistical as to destine future generations to try to survive in a frozen world due to our current apathy when we could act now and prevent the almost certain coming cataclysm of another global freeze and Ice Age.

James, you should enjoy this link but the "usual suspects" will hate it thoroughly. They'll also hate this article,
Smoking gun and then some you know, because it was written by world-renowned climate scientists AND was peer reviewed. But of course the scientists were from HARVARD and MIT, so clearly they are a bunch of know-nothings compared to our own illustrious Len Gould who graduated from...?

Aarggh, missing quotes

James, you should enjoy this link but the "usual suspects" will hate it thoroughly. They'll also hate this article,
Smoking gun and then some you know, because it was written by world-renowned climate scientists AND was peer reviewed. But of course the scientists were from HARVARD and MIT, so clearly they are a bunch of know-nothings compared to our own illustrious Len Gould who graduated from...?

third time's the charm:

James, you should enjoy this link but the "usual suspects" will hate it thoroughly. They'll also hate this article,
Smoking gun and then some you know, because it was written by world-renowned climate scientists AND was peer reviewed. But of course the scientists were from HARVARD and MIT, so clearly they are a bunch of know-nothings compared to our own illustrious Len Gould who graduated from...?





In several cases, he is merely quoting the inestimable Dr. James Hansen. :-)


Well, no flame war from me. Last time I checked, I am no policy maker, so I'm not the one needing any convincing.

If I were the President, I'd use this enthusiasm for change to make the country independent of imported oil use (at least to the extent that is possible). Probably by the adoption of PHEV technology using domestically built battery packs. Then I'd promote nuclear IFR technology to address concerns of coal use in power plants. That would at least kick the ball forward a bit while at the same time accomplishing a few things of value independent of the climate change issue.

Lots of people had problems with coal even before the CO2 issue. Like what it does to the mountaintops that are sliced off. Like the mercury emissions. Like the 30 people killed annually in the U.S. in coal mines (or the 13 people killed DAILY in China). Hard to see how nuclear power is more dangerous than coal.


I believe you will get your wish, at least in part.

US EPA appears ready to implement a "command and control" approach to mercury emissions reductions. The currently available technology for mercury removal would be too expensive to implement in older, smaller coal plants. Therefore, implementation of the regulations would likely result in the closing of these plants. One can only hope that there is replacement capacity available to handle the load.

The issue could become even more urgent if EPA decides that the installation of mercury control equipment at a coal plant subjects that plant to NSR under the Clean Air Act. That could subject every coal plant in the US to BACT or LAER requirements.

Mountain top removal coal mining, in addition to making more of WV suitable for habitation by people with both legs the same length, reduces the danger of coal mining compared to underground mining, as does surface mining.

Many of our policymakers appear to believe that the laws of economics and physics are subject to amendment or repeal at their convenience. When it becomes "intuitively obvious to the casual observer" that they failed, they will conclude that they just didn't give the government enough power to be effective and attempt to fix that problem.

I'm still waiting for that group of geniuses like Jeff et al from the previous debate to respond to any one of the four issues I posed in the previous debate which thoroughly demolished their arguments.

Jeff: I note you also never responded to the following which I posed to you in the infamous (and hilarious) Bob Ashworth article, comment on 9.23.09.

You also never responded to two of the following questions I posed to Bob and yourself in that thread, eg.

9.16.09 I had been expecting to settle the issue of re-radiation as the first error in the article, but since that's being ignored, I may as well raise some of the other obvious errors in the article.

1) The author, without reference, arbitrarily proposes that only the top 10 inches of earth soil participate in any warming due to external factors. Everyone in our area knows that a water pipe or building foundation must be burried to at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) depth to avoid being frozen in the short seasonal temperature changes common even at 45 deg. lat., proving that variations in atmospheric temperature rapidly affect earth surface down to at least that depth. Travel north to the border of the permafrost zone and that figure goes to well beyond two meters. Therefore, the author should have used at least 72 inches, not 10 inches, in his energy balance calculation.

2) Same problem as above with ocean surface water. Claiming that only the top 10 inches of the ocean participate in affecting earth's average surface temperature over a long time period is almost certainly a very significant error.

3) What basis figure does the author use to compute the specific heat of earth's surface (even to 10 inches)? Is it the specific heat of dry rock / soil? If so, then it understates the actual specific heat by the specific heat of the water content of that surface soil, which is sure to be much higher.

So Jeff: Quit avoiding the question. Do you or do you not, support Bob (Ashworth)'s contention that re-radiation is of no significance in calculating an energy balance for earth?

(Note... eventually Bob did inform us that he calculated the specific heat of earth's surface to be equivalent to that of water, an acceptable generalization for an amateur I suppose. That was an acceptable response to my fourth question, leaving yet the others three eg. ignoring of re-radiation increases due to surface temperature increases in the thermal balance, and 1. and 2. above)

9.23.09 For our amusement Jeff, how about computing and giving us the difference between the specific heat x total mass of the top 2 meters of earth's surface and the thermal mass of the top 2 meters of earth's surface, presuming as Bob does that its properties are identical with pure water. Oh, zero difference, you say? But we all knew that already. For other readers, presuming you will wimp, its so basic its Wiki material, as:

"If the body consists of a homogeneous material with sufficiently known physical properties, the thermal mass is simply the amount of material present times the specific heat capacity of that material."

Oh come on, Len. Let's not bring Bob "WTC 7 was rigged with thermite" Ashworth back into this discussion. It just isn't fair.....


Len, when you READ the article by Lindzen and Choi that I posted above and provide sufficient information HERE that I know you've actually done your homework I will be happy to engage in a discussion with you. However since you NEVER read a link that disagrees with your infantile world view there really is no point.

However that said, and since you STILL don't understand re-radiation nor the inverse square law I don't know how to demonstrate for you that the energy can go ANYWHERE and not necessarily DOWN to the earth but ANY direction. The model drawn by the IPCC only allows the energy to go DOWN (ie back to earth) and also assumes it loses NO STRENGTH as it does so. This is clearly false. CO2 molecules would be a point source would they not? Therefore they would "re-radiate" in any direction. Lindzen's paper CLEARLY demonstrates the a LOT of it goes UP, in complete contravention of the IPCC models, therefore further invalidating their predictions. The further INCONVENIENT truth that CO2 levels have continued to rise while the temperature has clearly NOT followed suit is additional dirt on the IPCC grave of dead ideas.

Len, responding to you on agw is pointless. Many times I have asked specific questions, as have many others, and given you very specific responses with links, and you ignore them. Your assertion that others like Jeff have failed in this way is hypocritical.

Jeff, I used to follow your links but I don't any more, agreed. Its a waste of my finite time.

Jeff: "The model drawn by the IPCC only allows the energy to go DOWN (ie back to earth) and also assumes it loses NO STRENGTH as it does so." -- ??? Whomever told you that, Jeff, was more out of it than you are.

[QUOTE] The recent Internet chatter about cooling led NOAA's climate data center to re-examine its temperature data. It found no cooling trend.

"The last 10 years are the warmest 10-year period of the modern record," said NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt. "Even if you analyze the trend during that 10 years, the trend is actually positive, which means warming." [/QUOTE]

AP IMPACT: Statisticians reject global cooling

Jeff and Ed,

If what you are saying is true, then our entire economy could be (further) tanked due to this rush to address a climate problem that Lindzen and some others do not believe exists.

On the other hand, the issue of oil dependency is well-known and has been a concern over every U.S. President from Nixon onwards. Nuclear power development has been stalled since TMI and Chernobyl.

The pragmatist in me is willing to cut loose big coal if that's what it takes minimize the impacts of these passion-driven changes. As I mentioned earlier, coal has some other problems in addition to CO2 emissions.

Len Gould
10.28.09 Jeff, I used to follow your links but I don't any more, agreed. Its a waste of my finite time. Says it all, 100%. Frankly I have no recollection of you EVER following ONE of my links, but it is remotely possible. I find it more than a little hypocritical of you to DEMAND that I give you proof but then admit that you never read the proof because your time is so "finite". I guess it is consumed writing a bunch of nonsense posts.

Unlike you, I linked to your little news item, and find it to be the usual misdirection and slant I've come to expect from the Associated Press and the mainstream media in general. After all, THEY are the ones who've been screaming the sky is falling for the past 20 years now, they'd have a lot of egg on their faces if they were found to be COMPLETELY WRONG now wouldn't they? Meantime it is snowing outside my window right now and we've already broken multiple cold records going back as long as records have been kept here. This marks the FIFTH year in a ROW this has been going on. But of course if the "climate scientists" continue to cherry pick their data, continue to REFUSE to accept weather station data that haven't been operating for at least 20 years (which mathematically guarantees they will have less reporting stations as time goes on) and have dropped reports from 15,000 stations already etc etc. AVERAGE global temperature? It has become a joke, which is why the satellite data is the only hope left and with acolytes like Gavin Schmidt and Hansen at NASA blocking access to the satellite data... well we are certain to have a FAIR look at the numbers aren't we? LOL


If the goal is to eliminate coal from our energy portfolio, let's just say it loud and clear and not obfuscate it under the heading of "climate change". I am not convinced of your average death numbers especially in the US, but there are plenty of good reasons to slowly eliminate coal from the menu. Unfortunately as everyone with a brain knows, coal provides over 50% of this country's energy primarily in the form of electricity so that isn't going to change overnight.

My company is looking into underground coal gasification right now, we have the technology to do this in a controlled manner that is superior to the oxygen injection fireflood methods. The output is syngas, which could be burned in power plants at dramatically lower emissions levels. Unfortunately in today's political environment even that might not be enough and pursuing financing for these ventures is problematic at best. What politicians don't realize is how they freeze everyone in industry with uncertainty about pending legislation. They can pass all the laws they like trying to repeal laws of physics, but at the end of the day, the laws of physics win.


If you prefer to use ethanol (E85), or natural gas, or hydrogen to fuel your vehicles, go for it. However, be sure the fuel you choose is available before you give up on gasoline.

If you prefer to buy electricity produced by solar, or wind, or geothermal, or burning buffalo chips, go for it. However, be sure that power source is available before you throw coal under the bus.

There is no question that replacing existing, functioning energy equipment and facilities with more expensive alternatives would have an adverse economic impact. The only question is how severe the economic consequences would be.

Last year, IEA estimated that the investment required to reduce global carbon emissions by 50% by 2050 would be approximately $45 trillion. Reducing global annual emissions to zero would require at least twice and more likely three times that investment. That ain't chicken feed!


It is not my preference regarding oil. Oil has PEAKED. Peak production occurred on July 2008. I never gave up on gasoline. It gave up (or gave out) on us.

And yeah, given the issues with CO2 emissions (technical, political or otherwise) I think it makes sense to dust off the nuclear option. Last I looked, IFRs violated no laws of physics.

Sometimes I don't understand you folks. Are Fred and I the last pragmatists standing? (Probably not. The potential investors running from anything relating to coal are probably pretty pragmatic as well.)

Ed: "Last year, IEA estimated that the investment required to reduce global carbon emissions by 50% by 2050 would be approximately $45 trillion." -- Question then is, How much will the investment be to maintain present carbon-intensive systems?


As far as I know, nobody asked, so nobody answered.


Ed. So let's guess. Assume the world needs to build 120 GW per year of coal generation to provide an equivalent service including plant replacements. At $3,000 / kw, that comes out to $15 trillion. (NB. assumptions: US present 450 GW generation 2007, world = US x 4 = 1,800 GW per EIA. Growth to 2050 = +3,000 GW to total 4,800 GW. Total build in period = 4,800 GW included complete replacement of all existing. $12 trillion total.)

Its probable also that the IEA included a significant amount to replace petroleum fueled vehicles with electric powered ones, say 10% of 50 million/yr for 40 yrs at an added $10,000, or $2 trillion total. ?? not so much, eh?

What else might be included in the $45 trillion? A LOT of HVDC transmission? A LOT of renewable generation at $10,000? (Solar thermal with thermal storage at any volume can install as cheaply as simple coal according to NREL). Number looks suspicious to me.

Also I'd note that with the present rate of increase of auto use worldwide, we're going to have to implement a LOT of electric vehicle use simply to deal with petroleum depletion, so I don't think any of that can be "charged" to CO2 reduction.


I have not seen anyone question the IEA number.

I suggest you take up your concerns with them.

I am more concerned that 50% is not enough to stabilize atmospheric concentrations. Beyond 50%, the investments increase, since the easiest, lowest cost investments would obviously be made first.

The "350" folks are calling for zero carbon emissions.

Let the fun begin!


The Chinese build superior coal fired plants using supercritical steam for 1/3 our cost so they are looking more at $1000/kw. Considering the IEA wrote a book on them, I'd assume they know the numbers so that ruins the first cost guesstimate.

Ed, since man contributes 3% of the total CO2 in the atmosphere, we're really talking about fractions of fractions. Doing the math, how much would we need to reduce OUR output to convince the planet to reduce ITS output? Oh that's right we're the perfect tipping point, without us Gaia would be PERFECTLY balanced, never mind that for billions of years BEFORE man she never bothered to balance her atmospheric books, NOR her weather nor much of anything else for that matter. Also troubling is that pesky carbon uptake, which appears to always absorb a little more than 1/2 of man's contribution, and has for at least 50 years or more! Since the scientists are pretty confident about how much carbon man is producing, the problem seems to be Gaia's fault. Maybe if the politicians pass a law demanding that Gaia takes up the other 1.6% per year?

Ramanathan Menon:

Thanks to James Carson calling me 'nuts' for writing against the use of coal to produce our electricity. A nut called 'Don Quixote' remembered by millions of people even today. Even in his name there is a word 'Quixotic'. Single handedly he fought a windmill. Now you need a big lobby to fight against the installations of windmills, saying that they produce much noise, they kill the birds, bla...bla..

Sir Isaac Newton discovered universal gravitation in the year 1666 while watching an apple fall from a tree in his garden. He was in the right place (under an apple tree) at the right time (when the apple was falling) and he had keen observation. What happens if it was quite opposite, suppose he was in Kerala (India) standing under a coconut tree and a coconut had fallen on his head? The world may not have known the theory of his three ‘LAWS OF MOTION’ until now.

What if Archimedes had his bath using a shower instead of a tub filled with water, the world may not have known about ‘the law of equilibrium of fluids.’

So, scientists were not born but were made through circumstances. No scientist can write a theory beforehand and make a new invention in accordance with his theory. Because every invention was through sheer accident.

In science nothing is small. Take for example, four hardware items, the nuts, the bolts, the screws and the washers. Without these ordinary things no scientist in NASA or anywhere can send a rocket to the moon. Similarly, even a small idea or a view shared with others by a common man like me should not be ridiculed.

But the ball has already started rolling....The following news will tell you the changing mindset of people towards reducing or rejecting the use of coal to produce our electricity.

"The Danish state-owned utility Dong Energy has decided to shut down two power station units in Denmark from April 2010 in a bid to cut costs amid declining electricity demand.

The move concerns unit 5 of the Asnaes power station near Kalundborg on the Sjaelland island and unit 4 of the Studstrup power station, north of Aarhus on the Jylland peninsula.

The shutdowns will lead to a total reduction of 980 MW corresponding to 18 per cent of the company's thermal power production and to 14 per cent of its total power capacity at the end of 2009.

The Asnaes station's unit 5 uses COAL as its main fuel and oil as a reserve. The Studstrup station's unit 4 is powered by coal, oil and biomass. Any excess biomass will instead be used in the unit three of the station.

Denmark’s leading utility has gone cold on coal. Earlier this month it postponed coal power station investments until 2020 because it doesn't regard carbon capture storage technology as a commercially realistic technology by that time.

DONG's CEO Nils Bergh-Hansen is said to believe in the technology but politically it is too uncertain to invest. Instead, Dong will build wind farms and convert its existing coal power stations to burn biomass with the aim of generating half of its power by 2020 from CO2-neutral energy sources.

This is a commendable, far-sighted policy although it doesn’t come cheap. At $0.46/kWh, Denmark has the highest (post tax) electricity prices in Europe – a third more expensive than neighbours Germany and more than double that of fellow Scandinavians Sweden. (Courtesy: PEI Digest Week)

Today, members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in U.S. will wrap up three days of hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. That's the Senate version of a bill to cap emissions of global warming pollution.

The House bill required carbon dioxide emissions to be cut by 17 percent by 2020. The latest Senate version requires 20 percent emissions reductions by 2020.

Among the additions to the bill:

-- New provisions to stimulate CCS technology;
-- Advanced payments of "bonus allowances" to companies that are "early actors"
installing CCS on their plants, providing they reduce emissions by at least
50 percent;
-- Requiring coal-fired power plants not to meet emissions performance standards
until commercial-scale CCS technology has been deployed.

Some coal-state senators, including Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., have sought to add language to help coal -- especially to delay emission reductions requirements and to provide more economic incentives to aid development and deployment of carbon dioxide capture and storage technology for power plants.

The Union of Mine Workers Association (UMWA) recognizes that climate change legislation represents the greatest threat to its membership and to the continued use of coal. They say, achieving the proper balance among technology incentives, the timing and stringency of emission reductions, and economic safeguards will be essential for obtaining broad bipartisan support for climate legislation.

Meanwhile experts say that CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology has never been used on anywhere the scale needed. The technology is largely untested, could be very expensive, and scientific experts believe it is unlikely to make much of a dent in carbon dioxide emissions until after 2030.

When and how, America, the largest user of coal, will try to make a U-turn from promoting its thermal power stations to other clean, free, silent, endless, renewable energy sources from the SUN, the WIND and the SEA is a big question from developing nations like India who are blamed for adding more and more CO2 to the atmosphere?


Works for me. Bill should pass easily. I believe the consequences would be fully anticipatable. :-)

The "350" folks may have let the "zero carbon emissions" cat out of the bag a bit prematurely. That might wake a few people up to the intended endpoint of this exercise.

Note also than Ban Ki Moon has begun the call for vegetarianism, declaring that the raising of meat animals is wasteful and contributes to climate change. UN FAO attributes ~20% to animal husbandry. Also, note the call from New Zealand for a switch to "edible pets". (Have you petted your chicken today?)

I have not figured out who will lead the call for population control / population reduction, though John Holdren and Cass Sundstein seem willing enough.

I have no estimate of the number of humans who could persist in a renewed hunter/gatherer society. However, hunting each other during the transition period leaves me a little cold.


Under the right circumstances, almost every pet could ultimately be considered edible.

Hmm. According to information that reached me a week ago when I was swilling some excellent free wine in Italy, somebody is going to have to collect 150 billion a year to pass out to Third World countries to get them to clean up. Now that really ticked me off until I figured out that it could have been twice that amount.


...; but, no money goes to any country which is still increasing its emissions.

I wonder if they left that out by intent! :-)



Perhaps under "certain" circumstances, but I wouldn't refer to them as "right".

I guess it would be somewhat more acceptable than dog fighting or cock fighting, unless you ate the losers. UGH



I never eat dogs from dog fighting. All that activity ruins the marbling of the meat.


I understand the adrenalin rush during the fight toughens the meat too.


Stick for developing nations like India and carrot for developed nations like America!!

According to the World Resources Institute, India’s total GHG (Green House Gas) emissions stood at 1,853 million metric tons equivalent of carbon dioxide or about 4.9 percent of global emissions in 2005.

India, at present emits only 1.2 tonnes per capita of greenhouse gas emissions, as compared to 20 tonnes by the US. Acquiescence in any regime that does not differentiate between the super polluters like the US, on the one hand, and varying levels of developing countries on the other, would, lock the country into an arrangement where its growth options would be restricted.

India believes that continuation of the process of incentivizing the adoption of climate friendly technologies in developing countries in the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol should be a priority concern.

Whereas, the industrialized countries have been demanding for a while now that emerging economies like India sign on to a deal that obliges them to take emission reduction obligations at their own cost in coming years. Painting India as `obstructionist', the industrialized countries have so far shied away from offering either credible money or commitment for deep emission cuts. Urging India to take `leadership' and become a `deal maker' on climate change is the euphemism often used to convince the government to take `emission control obligations' at its own cost!

The climate negotiations are complicated as they impact global economy like few other multilateral agreements so far. They are built on four basic and parallel channels. Who should mitigate and how much? How climate-friendly technologies should be diffused to the parts of the world that need it and need it quick? How the burden of adapting to inevitable climate change should be shared? And finally, how should the finances needed to do all that it takes to adapt and prevent catastrophic climate change be generated and shared?

India and other emerging countries have so far tried to ensure that the talks on all four fronts are carried out simultaneously. The rich countries prefer to first bind emerging economies on to a road that leads to emission reduction targets in coming years and then talk of transferring technology and funds. It has been in the developing world's advantage to let the industrialized countries, which are primarily to blame for driving the planet to the tipping point, first disclose how much reductions they are willing to undertake in the next decade and put figures of funds and technologies they want to share.

As per the Bali Action Plan that all countries signed on to in December 2007, the developing countries are expected to reduce emissions, if they are paid the full costs of their actions. They want to know how much funds are on the table before they decide what they can do with it.

A latest news story from Reuters “The multiyear ice covering the Arctic Ocean has effectively vanished, a startling development that will make it easier to open up polar shipping routes, an Arctic expert said”. It reminded me of Emperor Nero busy playing with his fiddle when Rome was on fire!

The Arctic is warming up three times more quickly than the rest of the Earth, in part because of the reflectivity, or the albedo feedback effect, of ice. As more and more ice melts, larger expanses of darker sea water are exposed. These absorb more sunlight than the ice and cause the water to heat up more quickly, thereby melting more ice.

The Arctic is an early indicator of what we can expect at the global scale as we move through the next few decades. So we should be paying attention to this very carefully, experts say.

A friendly word of caution. The coal lobby in America should realize that the COAL (Clouds Over American Land) is going to be thickest and blackest and they may need to use a fog lamp while driving their automobiles in daytime.

"A friendly word of caution. The coal lobby in America should realize that the COAL (Clouds Over American Land) is going to be thickest and blackest and they may need to use a fog lamp while driving their automobiles in daytime."

This might actually be a little more "over the top" than the original piece or the rest of the author's following comments.

The author might be well advised to travel in China, where the air is a pale orange-brown color, with a distinctive sulphur odor. China is currently the globe's #1 coal consumer, with the most rapid rate of increase of coal consumption; and, much of its coal generating capacity either lacks, or does not regularly operate, SOX and NOX control equipment and/or particulate capture equipment.

It is long past time to decide whether the goal is to achieve equal global per-capita carbon emissions levels or to drastically reduce global carbon emissions to avoid a climactic cataclysm.

Can we please stop quoting wikipedia please. And as far as coal being "death" ask China want it has done for them. It has actually been "life" for them. Giving rise to hundreds and hundreds of billions of Chinese - giving them a chance at life (does that matter??) Mr. Menon should realize the desperate need of India for coal, the hundreds of millions who have no electricity - ditto for Africa. How can we have the "you know whats" to tell them how they should develop. Hypocrisy at its finest folks. While we chat away on our laptops and desktops, expect to live to be 80 years old, have kids that virtually are assured to live a long and prosperous life - a person in Nigeria, a woman in Chad, and a man in DR of Congo - live to be 45, cannot read, and have no suitable drinking water. Mr. Hansen and Al Gore are a direct threat to their (and ours) ability to one day life have a quality of life. 13% of the women in Chad can read. Check CIA factbook.

These people have no electricity!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is the problem, not global warming. They live to they are 50!!!!!!!!! That is the problem, not climate change. They die before they are 5 years old. Baseload = coal. Al Gore and James Hanson want us to go on an energy diet, I got news for them, Africa and India, and most of China, is already on an energy diet: They are starving!!!!!!

Ramanathan, you talk about 1.2 tons per capita in India, let's see what happens when we multiply that out by India's total population? Oh wait, we aren't supposed to do that. Same goes for China too, never look at the TOTAL, just the per capita numbers. I guess the problem with the USA is that we use 25% of the world's energy (producing 25% of the world's GDP in the process) but only have a bout 6% of the population. So what you're really saying is we ought to increase our population? Perhaps by loosening immigration restrictions perhaps?

Leave it to the developing nations to play the Per-Capita card. Why isn't it emissions per square mile? In any case, it is in no one's interest to build brand new coal plants in ANY country, if one is concerned about CO2 emissions. They are setting themselves up for capital loss if they are serious about CO2 (instead of just playing the developed countries).

The green revolution, the polio vaccine, the eradication of small pox, malaria treatment, the HIV cocktail, the automobile, trains, steam power, nuclear power; all these things were developed in high per capita emission countries, for which the developing countries have benefited. The developed countries are indicted for their past without acknowledging the benefits that came from them.

Mr. Menon: Criticize coal all you like. You may even have a good point or two to make somewhere in your muck. However, I refuse to wade through your nonsense to find any nuggets of valuable information. When you hyperventilate with silly rhetoric, I am going to call you out as "nuts". I am also going to call you out when you vilify and demonize the coal business and those who are honorably employed there. "Nazi", "factories of death", "death trains", "evil" indeed! What nonsense.

You compare me with Don Quixote for opposing windmills. DQ believed the windmill to be a dragon because he was insane, whereas I believe that windmills are terrifically expensive and foolish because I have an understanding of their economics. Here is a clue to the clueless: Understand analogies before you use them.

Thank you for citing Denmark in making your point. By your figures, they pay $0.46 per kwh for power? Are you aware that Americans pay one-quarter that? If you believe that Americans will stand for paying even half as much as the Danes when they don't have to, you really are nuts.

Your claims that renewables from "the sun, the wind and the sea" are somehow "free" is ludicrous. The Danes pay so much for energy precisely because wind is NOT "free", but rather are obviously extremely expensive to anyone who is not utterly clueless about economics. Neither are they "silent" nor "clean".

Ramanathan Menon "The coal lobby in America should realize that the COAL (Clouds Over American Land) is going to be thickest and blackest and they may need to use a fog lamp while driving their automobiles in daytime."

THAT one was a lulu!!! Apparently, you are not aware that pollution in the US, REAL pollution, not CO2, has been reduced by over 40% over the past thirty years. This, despite a doubling of GDP. Your comment about thicker and blacker clouds is pathetic hyperbole. Fyi, carbon dioxide is clear and colorless. It is also just as essential to life and 'Mother Nature' as oxygen and water.

What the heck does "Co2 is essential to life" have to do with any topic under discussion here?

Come on now, Len. You're previous comments indicate you are much smarter than your last comment. CO2 being essential to life is critical here. Any strategy or law (cap and trade) to limit CO2 emissions is in actuality a strategy or law to limit an essential part of our atmosphere, our environment. More co2 means more plant life, which means more food. That is what the "heck" co2 being essential to life means. Without co2, which cap and trade apparently aims to eliminate, there is no life on earth. In effect, "environmentalists" or rich alarmists as they should be called, are waging war on an essential part of life, carbon dioxide. They are waging war on a chemical compound that without it, we do not exist. surely, you understood that.

For those who promote CO2, here is something to open your eyes or repair your blurred vision:

Please read what Jeffrey Masters, Ph.D. — Director of Meteorology, Weather Underground, Inc., USA had to say:

"Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life!" That's the slogan of two 60-second TV ads airing in 14 U.S. cities May 14-28. The ads are being run by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). According to their web site, CEI is a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government. They tout a Wall Street Journal article which calls CEI "the best environmental think tank in the country.

But who funds the Competitive Enterprise Institute? A variety of businesses fund CEI, but the fossil-fuel industry is one of their main contributors. Exxon gave $270,000 to CEI in 2004 alone. $180,000 of that was earmarked for "global climate change and global climate change outreach." Exxon has contributed over $1.6 million to CEI since 1998. Other oil companies, such as Amoco and Texaco, also contribute to CEI, through the American Petroleum Institute. So, it is safe to mentally replace the "paid for by the Competitive Enterprise Institute" tag on the ads with, "paid for by the fossil fuel industry."

The fossil fuel industry points out in their ads that carbon dioxide it essential for both plant life and human life. Is it wrong, then, to label carbon dioxide as a pollutant? The definition of pollution in Webster's dictionary is "to make physically impure or unclean: Befoul, dirty." By that definition, carbon dioxide is not pollution. However, Webster's also has the definition: "to contaminate (an environment) esp. with man-made waste." Carbon dioxide is a waste gas produced by fossil fuel combustion, so can be classified as man-made waste. One can also make the case that carbon dioxide is contaminating the environment, since increased CO2 from burning fossil fuels has already harmed sea life.

Carbon dioxide, when dissolved in sea water, is deadly to shell-building microorganisms that form an important part of the food chain in some cold ocean regions. The extra CO2 lowers the pH and make the water too acidic for these organisms to build their shells. The increase in acidity of 0.1 pH units during the past century due to fossil fuel burning, and expected continued acidification in the coming decades, could cause a massive die off of marine life and collapse of the food chain in these ocean areas. Based on these arguments, the fossil fuel industry's slogan, "Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life!" could just as truthfully be phrased, "Carbon dioxide. We call it pollution, and we call it death." One need only look at our sister planet, Venus, to see that too much "life" can be a bad thing. There, an atmosphere of 96% carbon dioxide has created a hellish greenhouse effect. The temperatures of 860 F at the surface are hot enough to melt lead. There's not too much life there!

The fossil fuel industry ads point out that the burning of fossil fuels has brought dramatic increases in wealth and prosperity to the world. This is a good point, and we should not seriously damage the basis of the world economy through reckless efforts to cut CO2 emissions. We can credit a good portion of the marvels of modern civilization to the availability of cheap fossil fuels to power our technological revolution. However, we shouldn't get all misty-eyed about the wondrous things we've accomplished by using this ready source of energy left for us by the fossilized plants of Earth's past. Any technology can bring about terrible suffering if used unwisely.

Consider that fossil fuels have also made possible the horrors of modern warfare. The tanks of Hitler's blitzkrieg--and the aircraft that have dropped the bombs that have killed millions of innocent people this past century--were all powered by fossil fuels. Air pollution from fossil fuel burning has killed millions as well.

We need to be honest about both the importance of fossil fuels, and the dangers they pose if used unwisely. The threat of climate change due to burning fossil fuels needs to be addressed truthfully, so that we can make wise decisions about the future of our energy technology. The untruthful new ad campaign by the fossil fuel industry is harmful to this end."

With this statement, I rest my case your Honor!!

Sometimes I wish that all those people who use the "CO2 is essential to life" arguments would dive into a 10 foot pool of water (also "essential to life") and stay at the bottom for an hour or two.

Well, not really, but come on. That argument has all the merit of someone with an 8th grade education, at most. Since every additional molecule of CO2 also represents a molecule of O2 that is no longer available, then at best, we have a zero sum game. Or do you think CO2 is MORE essential than oxygen?

People that use the "CO2 is essential to life" argument are either amazingly stupid and simplistic in their thinking or are willfully distorting the CO2 emission debate for the purpose of obfuscation, which they find tactically meritorious. For better or worse, I believe most posters at this site are of the latter category.

LOL, Jim that was too much. Question for YOUR 8th grade education. Where does OUR oxygen come from? If you guessed photosynthesis you are correct. If you guessed anything else, go back to the bottom of your pool and stay there until you learn to use your brain properly.

Ramanathan, you are from a country of 1 billion plus people, MOST of whom would be dead right now without fossil fuels. So which is worse, the slow death from miserable starvation or the quick death of a blitzkrieg, or is there a third choice? Liebig's Law of the Minimum teaches us that a plant can only grow better based on what it LACKS not what is in abundance. Therefore, adding more phosphorus, nitrogen or water may not help, if what it lacks is for instance, CO2. Given how big trees and other plants get, how important to our ecosystem they are, it seems amazing that they can do so well on such a minuscule trace gas, with one molecule per 100,000 floating by in the air, and yet that is the ONLY molecule the plant can use!

The solution to our petri-dish problem is undoubtedly contained in NOT chopping down more forests to plant more sugar cane and other biofuels, but rather to ALLOW forests to grow and feed this burgeoning population we have coming.

The alternative besides a life which is "nasty, brutish and short" is that we will never get to see just what amazing and wonderful scientific discoveries that next child born in India will produce, because he/she will be long dead, or struggle so hard for the basic necessities of life that there is no leisure time whatsoever to think the deep thoughts required. But the world MIGHT be 1/10th of one degree cooler IF the crackpot scientists with their crackpot theories and models are correct. If they're wrong and we've just blown $60 trillion or more, well so what, people dying by the millions isn't impressive, let's kill them by the Billions!


OK, smarty pants. Does the O2 come from the CO2 or the water (H2O) that the plant uses?

The O2 comes from the H20, but without the CO2, there is no Calvin cycle, no oxygen. But you knew I knew that, my statement was photosynthesis produces O2, my statement is correct. The amazing thing is how the plant utilizes CO2 to perform its magic. In a CO2 deprived environment (such as you and your ilk wish to produce) we'll have photo-respiration instead, with the plants robbing their own sugars to produce ammonia and stay alive, stunted and dying.

Here's a picture if the paste works right

One byproduct of my endless debate with Mr. Carson was the realization that elevated CO2 levels (385->500 ppm) will do little to improve plant life compared with the problems it will cause? Why? Because local CO2 levels vary widely anyway (385 ppm is an AVERAGE and one with lots of variance at that). Plants are already routinely exposed to levels of 600 ppm CO2 and more. On the other hand, the additional heating, shifting of rainfall, etc. will affect the ability of plant life to grow efficiently in their legacy localities.

Yes, it's kind of amazing how plants can absorb CO2 from such low levels, but absorbents are not that hard to develop for CO2, so I guess it makes sense. If you look at your diagram closely, you will see that water is an even bigger factor. If elevated CO2 levels result in a poorer distribution of water, it's a net loss. 6CO2 + 12H2O -> C6H12O6 + 6O2 + 6H2O. Plants need lots and lots of water.

We have deserts because of lack of water, not lack of CO2.

Greenhouse folks don't use elevated CO2 levels unless their light output exceeds 60 watts per square foot. Sunlight average is about 250 Watts per meter or about 25 Watts per square foot. Plants are not CO2 starved, and their is no evidence of significant benefit from plants having higher CO2 exposure. The best that could be said is that natural CO2 sinks may slightly increase as CO2 levels rise, but not at a rate that would be meaningful.

Mr. Menon: As for your quote from Masters, whom I respect but do not always agree, I stopped when I reached the vicious ad hominem attack on the CEI. Why does it matter who funds them? Who funds the environmental movement, and what are their motives? The argument is downright silly.

JimB, the pro-CO2 argument has no less merit than the agw argument. There is some evidence that increased CO2 levels help plants. I recall an article that purported to show that poison ivy has increased its potency. I also recall reading that some agronomists believe that increased CO2 has increased crop yields by as much as six percent.

Here is a link on the poison ivy.

Your argument that CO2 and O2 are somehow zero sum is ... idiotic. Perhaps you should think before you press the submit button.

Finally, the fossil record shows that higher levels of CO2 and temps are associated with a wetter planet, not desertification.

Jim, Not entirely true. For instance in your chemical balance equation there, you show 12 H20's some sugar and, whaddya know, 6 H20's out? Some plants need lots of water, but cacti do very well without. I grew up in the desert, I'm very familiar with them and the flora and fauna that exist there. In fact cacti don't even waste effort on photorespiration because they can't waste the water. As for the greenhouse operators, CO2 costs MONEY, lots of it ($2.50 per cubic foot last I checked) so the finish to your statement it isn't cost-effective unless (Liebig's Law again) the rest of the "barrel" is present in terms of the other components necessary for sustained plant growth. However since it is the SCARCEST of the molecules a plant needs, it is the most limiting factor. If you'd like to educate yourself some more

The dustbowls of the 30's demonstrated that you don't need to start with desert to end up with one. Due to disastrously stupid government policies (gee, where have we heard THAT before?), farmers were encouraged to overplant wheat, plowing up centuries of native rhizome growth. Those rhizomes were there to A) conserve moisture against the CYCLICAL (gee, where have we heard THIS before?) drought periods and B) conserve the soil itself. Take them both away and kiss a bunch of valuable topsoil goodbye. BTW, the temperature rise of the 30's WAS very likely attributable to man's meddling in the Midwest ecosystem, of course it was a localized event and naturally had nothing whatsoever to do with CO2.


For someone whose favorite Latin phrase seems to be ad hominem, you are quick to label me 'idiotic' with no explanation.

Near as I can figure most all sources of significant CO2 comes from breathing, burning, or rotting. All of those processes also use O2. That leaves a little from volcanoes and probably quite a bit more from NG/oil extraction (as a byproduct). So CO2 amounts can get larger with O2 being the same, but O2 can't get larger without CO2 getting smaller. It's a zero sum game for all intents and purposes.

You also wrote:

"I also recall reading that some agronomists believe that increased CO2 has increased crop yields by as much as six percent."

Do you believe that? I thought you found no evidence that CO2 levels have been increasing at all. :)

FWIW, I don't want to get into the issue that increased CO2 levels might help plants to some extent. It's possible. But without requisite increases in N-P-K, water, and sunlight, this benefit is limited.


CO2 is more like $10-$20 per ton. Even with tankage, it's still very cheap. $2.50 per cubic foot (at STP) is about 2000x higher than the market price.


Cacti save water, but at the expense of growing very slowly. Hardly CO2 "sinks", lol.

LOL, whoops, meant to say per THOUSAND cubic feet, I've seen other numbers such as $3.50, I'm not talking about tons here, but CO2 as used in unconventional oil recovery. Of course if you have your own source such as propane or natural gas, you could make your own at the cost of some energy, but otherwise you just buy it. Look at this another way, contact your local gas supply company that sells oxyacetylene and ask how much a tank of CO2 costs, because that's how a greenhouse operator would do it.

C3's uptake CO2 much faster than C4's like cacti, but both benefit substantially (like 42 and 23% respectively). You don't think that adds up to a benefit especially if you're planning on eating that plant to stay alive?

JimB: I have never said that CO2 levels have not risen since 1958, when the Mauna Loa series begins. I said that there is no reason to believe that the current levels are outside the range of historical experience. Hint: historical experience did not start in 1958.

As to ad hominem attacks, I think that it is fair to call "idiotic" your point that CO2 and O2 are zero sum.

The only "evil" we have here is the same BS from the ecofascists, and if the latest polls are any indication the American people are no longer buying the BS. However, I will reiterate the same challenge to these "carbon is evil" nutjobs - If you think electricity or liquid fuel derived from coal and other hydrocarbons is "evil", please set the example and stop using electricity and any other hydrocarbon-derived products. Go hang yourselves with your own rope of BS, but leave the innocents and those of us who know better out of your twisted dark fantasies.

BTW - How is it that an energy related website has allowed itself to be hijacked by this New Fascism?

JimB: Perhaps you should also review what the term "ad hominem" means. I called your argument idiotic because, well.... it is. I did not say that your argument was wrong because you are an idiot. See? Menon questioned the motives of the CEI by citing their funding sources. THAT is an ad hominem attack.


An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the person" or "argument against the person") is an argument which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of a person advocating the premise.


Well, you've taken the time to call my argument "idiotic" 3 times now, but have never made an effort to explain why. O2 enters the atmosphere from plants (almost exclusively) which take in a molecule of CO2 in the process. Similarly, O2 leaves the system (almost exclusively) by some kind of oxidation of hydrocarbon, which produces a molecule of CO2. The level of CO2 can change a bit by other means, but mostly at this point the net (upward) change is due to increased combustion of fossil fuels. I suppose a bit of aluminum and iron rusting occurs, but that's pretty tiny compared with all the breathing, burning, and rotting going on. Most of the exposed iron on the planet is already rusted.

You might argue more persuasively that the balance is irrelevant, as oxygen is about 520 times more plentiful in the atmosphere than CO2, but that doesn't make the zero sum balance any less true.

JimB: Your 'model' makes sense only in a static, bounded environment. However, the biosphere is dynamic and unbounded. What does that mean? When you increase CO2, ceteris paribus, you increase photosynthesis and thereby INCREASE O2 output. More CO2 necessarily means more O2. Duh. That is why I referred to your point as, for the fourth time, "idiotic".

This also leads me to another speculation. What if the increasing CO2 (if it is increasing at all) is due to some problem in the biosphere whereby plant activity is being constrained? Hmmm.... Is it possible, then, that the ballyhoo over agw is taking our attention from a real environmental problem?


No, you are wrong, again.

Most all photosynthesis produces plant material which then proceeds to rot away within a year after production. This includes annual plants and leaves from trees in temperate areas. Only a small amount is stored away in more resilient forms such as cellulose or lignin. That tiny amount is overshadowed by overall forest depletion worldwide. Some is also stored in soils, but that is also overshadowed by overall soil depletion worldwide. If elevated CO2 levels resulting in higher O2 production, that would just result in a higher annual seasonal blip in CO2 (and O2) levels that is seen on the Mauna Loa readings.

Annually, we burn about a million years of stored plant material in the form of coal and other fossil fuels. This is huge compared to the tiny "net" savings that plants can store year to year.

Beyer, But interestingly, since Mauna Loa has been keeping tabs the overall growth in CO2 has been constant, even though the amount of fossil fuels consumed has gone up tremendously. Some would find it intriguing that Gaia only chooses to uptake 1.6% per year, no matter the amount combusted. The AGW crowd doesn't have an answer for this, not even a competent theory, but the so-called deniers are obligated to come up with a perfect and pristine counter-theory for EVERYTHING, with no budget whatsoever and a few other handicaps thrown in. My kind of lopsided contest. :)


Look at the Mauna Loa curve more closely. The rate of increase is markedly higher now than it was in the 1960s.

Jeff and James,

FWIW, I think I'm more in alignment with your thinking than that of the author (though that is not saying too much!). At the end of the day, we are really left with one of three choices:

1. Ignore the concerns about CO2 emissions (i.e., do nothing)
2. Get nuclear power to work better/cheaper/more efficiently/more cleanly (IFRs, Thorium, etc.)
3. Get used to the idea of living with a lot less energy. (barring some miracle breakthrough)

Of the three, I prefer choice #2. Heck, we should be doing that in any event. People with vested interests in coal might disagree.

Our problem isn’t coal. Our problem is too many people.

Does anyone think that such as photo voltaic electricity could ever have been developed in a world where population was starvation limited and most energy was supplied by muscle? Before coal man’s major advances in energy use were the horse collar and the Lateen sail.

Few grasp the arithmetic of exponential population growth. From the Dawn of Man until the fall of Rome population had reached 0.3 billion. From the fall of Rome to the present population has grown to over 6.8 billion, about 23 fold in a few ticks of the clock.

Population did not grow until recently because they hadn’t yet discovered the connection to sex but because they could barely keep alive enough people for a stable population.

The Great Dilemma is how to decrease world population. A quick and certain way would be to stop using fossil fuels.

David Smith: Please provide a definition of your made-up word "Ecofascism" consistent with the following Miriam-Webster definition of the root word.

Fascism -- "Martial virtues are celebrated, while liberal and democratic values are disparaged. Fascism arose during the 1920s and ’30s partly out of fear of the rising power of the working classes; it differed from contemporary communism (as practiced under Joseph Stalin) by its protection of business and landowning elites and its preservation of class systems. "

Fascism in any form is a power system benefiting corporation owners and landowners and which supresses often violently, any activity of the working people.


Jim: You are too polite to provide any discussion of the nonsense hypothesis that rapidly increasing earth's CO2 levels might be net beneficial by enhancing plant growth. We all know that's just a red herring misdirection invented and/or promoted by corporations benefiting from the increasing. Scientifically its truely pure nonsense. A childish argument meant to sucker in the tv audience.

Most enlightening, Len. Could have sworn that those waving the fasces were nationalistic, racist autocrats that trampled the individual and preferred dictatorship. Don't recall any preference by such for corporations or landowners unless these entities joined the mindless herds and accepted, at least by my standards, insane dictators. Bye the bye, the majority of those herds appeared to me to be disgruntled members of the working classes. Now whether the rods and blade are swung by ecologists, religious zealots, workers, corporate executives, landowners or whomever, they are repugnant to me and, I daresay, you.

Jim, Here are graphs that sum it up rather nicely:

You'll see that the growth rate of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased some 30% since the 1880's while the growth in CO2 from the industrial age has increased several orders of magnitude in the same period, ie the curves (not drawn to scale) don't match.

This slide nicely handles the CO2 "forcing" of plant growth that is, sorry Len, back to your coolaid. LOL

Do you agree? If not, enlighten the readers.....

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists had examined the climate lobby in eight countries including the US, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, China, Belgium and Brazil. It relied on more than 200 interviews, lobbying registers and political donation records. Their findings:

BIG greenhouse polluting companies around the world, employing thousands of lobbyists, are exerting heavy pressure on governments to weaken climate change laws at home and slow progress on an international climate agreement in Copenhagen, a global investigation reveals.

In Australia, 20 companies who have already won the most concessions from the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme employ 28 lobbying firms with well over 100 staff, many of them former politicians, political advisers or government officials.

In the US there are more than 2800 climate lobbyists, five for every member of Congress, an increase of more than 400 per cent over the past six years. From Washington to Canberra and New Delhi to Brussels, companies and their lobbyists are often raising the same widespread fears about jobs, power blackouts and economic losses unless governments weaken commitments to combat climate change.

Chief executives of coal and power companies have hosted a public campaign against climate legislation which is being blocked in the Senate. The millionaire coal chief Don Blankenship appeared at a ''Friends of America'' rally with country music stars and prominent Fox TV host Sean Hannity. The rally was designed to warn Americans ''how environmental extremists and corporate America are both trying to destroy your jobs".

In Europe, ambitious targets to cut greenhouse emissions were significantly reduced after lobbying by heavy industries protesting they would face unfair competition from the developing world.

Industry lobby groups have also carved out a permanent role at the UN talks as representatives of the so-called BINGOS - Business and Industry Non-Government Organizations.

Conclusion: While lobbyists for the renewable energy industry, the carbon traders and environmental groups are also becoming more prominent, the report finds that their voices ''can barely be heard above the clamor of the older, well-capitalized and deeply entrenched industries that have been lobbying on climate change for more than 20 years''.

Jeff, I am surprised, confused yet pleased to see your data telling us that CO2 concentration has a positive effect on photosynthesis. This is exactly what I thought most plausible, if only by mass action, many decades ago but was brought up short by very learned papers that told me I was wrong. Not a little wrong, I was absolutely wrong. What has changed. What am I to believe?

What is holy about 300 ppm CO2? Why is this value considered a base point – would 200 be a better value. But might 200 ppm reduce the production of food

Len, and others, using dictionary definitions for words such as fascism can be quite fatuous, even by those of the same publisher. My earlier M-W says something quite different from Len’s. Dictionaries, as are histories, are written by the victors. Few people realize that English language dictionaries reflect usage rather than authority in stark contrast to those of say, French or Spanish. The OED cites “bad” as a synonym for “good” I suppose because of Michael Jackson. Seems most communist countries are Democratic Republics.

I am convinced that many of these discussions without dealing with world population are only nibbling around the edges of the problem.

Mr. Menon,

Your conclusion is self-serving, simplistic and wrong.

The "evil" industries have massive investments to protect; and, they have the right to attempt to do so. The "clamor" you hear is from "renewable energy industry, the carbon traders and environmental groups". These groups have very limited investments; but, "they have high hopes" and are actively pursuing government support for those hopes.

The "evil" industries were unable to prevent the Kyoto Accords. They will not stop Copenhagen. They have not kept onerous legislation from being drafted by both houses of the US Congress. They are unlikely to avoid EPA limitations on carbon emissions. They do not, however, have any obligation to be led like lambs to the slaughter without "bleating".

It appears that you believe your cause is "righteous"; and, that anyone who does not agree with you and support your cause is "evil". That is a common characteristic of religious zealots, including the AGW "religionists". A British court has recently ruled that freedom of religious belief extends to AGW. I assume the US courts will follow at some point.

JimB: Perhaps you should actually read my response about your idiotic claim that CO2 and O2 are somehow zero sum. Again, increased CO2 leads necessarily to increased O2, not decreased.

I disagree that nuclear is an option in the US at the present time. The Democrats in Congress, specifically Reid of Nevada, have successfully suppressed the Yucca mountain facility. Without robust nuclear waste storage in place, even I oppose expansion of nuclear. Our current practice of storing the waste "temporarily" on site is irresponsible.

JeffP: Your point about the steady increase in CO2 is well taken.

Don: Spare us the neo-Malthusian rant. Population growth has stopped and is even receding in most of the industrialized world. As the rest of the world advances economically, I believe that they will also stop growing.

Len: The definition of Fascism that you cite is the leftist view of that political ideology. Fascism is a political system whereby your political identity and participation is defined by one's membership in a recognized economic group. The "corporations" that Fascists supposedly supported included guilds and labor unions. In practice, Fascists exploited not only the working classes, but also demanded that "capitalists" do the government's bidding.

An ecofascist then, would be where the government intervenes "excessively" in the private sector by using taxes and regulations so as to achieve government objectives. Government intervention would be "excessive" when they create fictional crises. If agw is one of those fictional crises, then those promoting mitigation through taking control of the energy sector are eco-fascists.

Menon: Once again with the ad hominem attacks. Where is your tally of the environmental lobbies? If you think that they are not several times larger than the industry groups, then you are very ignorant of politics.

Ed: Great points. Thanks for saving me the time to make them myself.


I don't know where your growth graphs came from. But that's doesn't even matter very much. Most plants growing everywhere except deserts and arctic areas are exposed to much higher CO2 levels than the global average of 385 ppm. These levels are often 600 ppm or more. (Again, think of the rotting vegetation in soils that plants grow in.) So I don't really know what your graphs are supposed to mean in the real world. If global CO2 averages rose to 400, 450, or 500 ppm, they would not affect significantly the elevated values that plants are already exposed to now (maybe a few 10s of ppm). I said all of this in my 11/3/09 posting. Confined greenhouses sometimes experienced depressed CO2 levels, which is why they use CO2 sources beneficially.


I find our current practice of storing waste CO2 permanently in the atmosphere similarly irresponsible. With IFRs you don't need to store any waste for more than 80-100 years. All the really nasty stuff is burnt up and used to make electricity.

O2 levels will only increase if plant material (in a net sense) is stored long term without decomposition or combustion. That is, basically, the process of making fossil fuels such as coal. This is occurring presently to a very small extent in peat bogs throughout the world, but nothing compared with the rate the fossil fuels are being consumed. You apparently think that simply calling a fact that annoys you "idiotic" will make it go away. That tends not to be the case.

And while there is always the possibility that AGW is a fictional crisis, our increased dependency on foreign oil, and the fact that worldwide oil production has peaked, are both very, very, real. If we can address those problems with the same tools being mustered to address AGW, then it's a win in any case. Pardon me for my pragmatism.

Jim, now you're just talking out your a++, what with the 600 ppm due to "rotting" vegetation. I'm thinking what we're smelling is methane here, with some other aromatics in the mix. Perhaps some Biology 101 classes are in order here?

The source where I got the graphs had examined several hundred of PEER REVIEWED papers, including those from the patron saints of global warming such as Revelle and Suess. Unlike the IPCC, which cherry-picked the data to support their own narrative ending, these guys, like Climate Audit and others used the CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) method, letting the data lead where it would. Unfortunately that doesn't fit the narrative very well. For instance Revelle and Suess had EXPERIMENTALLY determined the half-life of C02 in the atmosphere to be 7-10 years. This differs drastically from Len's number of 300 years, which he faithfully (what else) believes from the IPCC's report. However, they have NO experimental justification for their number, while the others were able to measure the Carbon 14 in the atmosphere after above ground nuclear testing and easily follow it until it dissipated. Gee, who'd a thunk that? So on the one hand we have wildly specious wild ass guesses and on the other valid experimental results and measurements. Which one do YOU think the IPCC would use? LOL

JimB: One more time, increased CO2 means increased photosynthesis activity, which means more O2, not less. For the sixth time, your point about CO2 and O2 being somehow zero sum is idiotic.

Exactly how is nuclear, wind & solar going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Electric cars? Puhleeze.

I do not believe that we know why CO2 is rising. I have serious doubts that it has anything to do with human activity wrt burning fossil fuels. We are barely a pimple on an elephant's rump in comparison with nature.

As for storing nuclear wastes, not far from where I live, there is a 1gw pair of reactors on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River that is storing nuclear waste on site. THAT is irresponsible.

Finally, your point to Jeff about variation of CO2 is silly. If the background level is rising, then so is the average exposure even if it is highly variable above the background levels. This is pretty basic.

James Carson, I am glad you are still reading me. You wrote: Don: “Spare us the neo-Malthusian rant. Population growth has stopped and is even receding in most of the industrialized world. As the rest of the world advances economically, I believe that they will also stop growing.”

Where does this disparaging “neo-“prefix come from? Am I also to shut up because you might chose to call me a neo-Darwinian or a neo-Einsteinian? Malthus saw the problem and did the arithmetic long ago. It is a mystery to me that without referencing Malthus that thinking people don’t see the problem today. My only explanation is so many are hardwired into religious taboos.

As I have said many times world population continues to grow, currently at a frequently cited rate of 77 million a year. Doesn’t sound like many among our nearly 7 billion, but let’s put it in perspective: In the pre-fossil fuels world population was limited by food supply to about 300 million – likely had never been higher, ever. Birth rates were very high, few babies survived to adulthood. Seventy seven million would have been a quarter of the total population.

It's only seventy seven million more in one year? - about the total who died in the ten years of holocaust and WWII. By inertia alone world population must surge over 7 billion which is billions more than the planet will support with anything like the present civilization. Are we who have cars and air-conditioning to say to the billions who don’t even have lighting,” Tough, you can’t save up and the build cheap reliable coal-burning power plants we have?”

Yes, the population of some responsible people is decreasing. Sure, the population of Italy is decreasing, but Italians are not and never have been a problem. The 77 million increase is after deduction of those nations that are decreasing. Each year we end up with fewer Danes and Italians who produce more than they consume and more and more starving, diseased and frequently violent people who cannot help themselves.

It could not be done with cheap energy and without ever growing shortages and restrictions. No combination of all the well-intended schemes can cope with the present population.

Well, that pretty much says it all. You guys prefer your own definitions of fascism to those of Miriam-Webster. (??A left-wing publication?? Why? Because its editors and writers actually know what they are writing about, as opposed to most above?))

In a proper democracy, the ONLY influence would belong to voters equally, and every effort would be expended to arrest anyone trying in any way for any reason to provide unrequested input to the political decision-making process including political party "factions", NGO's, corporate lobbyists. See Jefferson, Paine etc..

Corporations have absloutely NO intrinsic "right" to influence the political process and are only tolerated because their ability and tendancy to do so has arisen long after the original drafters of US constitution did the work on which the US system is based.

James: One more time. Increased photosynthesis activity is MEANINGLESS unless the plant material is not preserved over the course of a year. Most of it is not preserved. It dies and rots away, releasing the CO2 back into the environment. (This is why phosphates dumped in rivers lower O2 levels in the water. The phosphates cause algae blooms, which die, and ROT. The rotting is a respiration process by bacteria which consumes O2 and emits CO2.)

Yeah Jim, my trees die EVERY year, it's amazing! Whoops, what about all that cellulose in the WOOD? Is there any CARBON there? LOL

Don H.,

The wonderful alliteration of "fatuous fascism" is too much to pass up. The closest thing to the benighted subject one finds in Noah Porter's revision of the 1884 Webster's International is an illustration labelled "Fasces" in a classified section. Claude Auge' does no better in his 1910 Petit LaRousse Illustre Nouveau Dictionnaire Encyclopedique, showing, perhaps, that French dictionaries also reflect usage.


If there was a net increase in forests worldwide annually, you'd have a point. But they're not, so you don't (as usual).

Don Giegler: Not wishing to appear a niggling nabob of negativism I defer to your keen ear, eye and erudition. Sorry, my statement about French dictionnaires must already be at least a couple republiques obsolete. I was afraid to even attempt a language that is so dependent on the difference between le and le. And it does require holding one’s face differently.

(Apologies to Spiro Agnew.)

Don, people have a right to believe what they want about anything, but frankly I fail to understand how ANYONE, ANYWHERE cannot understand that this population thing is the real danger FOR THOSE OF US WHO PREFER LIVING IN CIVILIZED SOCIETIES. Of course, if governments were composed of people like you and I, then the problem could be solved, but I'm afraid that our politicians are a tadd short on the brain front, although their greed is bottomless.

The global population is decreasing. I wonder what kind of failing grade I would give a student who offered this opinion - F or F-.


Hello, China.

Hello, India.

Hello, balance of the developing world.

Does this graph suggest a logical first step to reducing the rate of growth of annual carbon emissions?

If the developing world believes it is in a "carbon emissions dug hole", why does it keep digging faster?

If solar and wind are already competitive with fossil and nuclear, why does the developing world continue to choose fossil?

Enquiring minds want to know. :-)

Excuse me for not looking at your link, Edward, but I don't want anyone to think that I'm a complete fool. In fact, just before leaving italy I read something in some kind of paper saying that the decision makers were collecting money to send to what you call the "developing" world in order to get them to go along with the program they hope to sell in Copenhagen. You know, the one that I call the Copenhagen Circus.

Incidentally, I believe that the Chinese want to do 'the right thing, but developing the interior of their country comes first. I don't blame them.

DonH: Well... If you want to associate yourself with Malthus, be my guest. However, nothing that he predicted has turned into reality. Not even close. Neither have the predictions of his acolytes, the Club of Rome and Paul Ehrlich et. al. In fact, they have been utterly discredited.

Len: Corporations have no right to influence the political process? What do you think the phrase "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" means?

As to the definition of fascism, I rely on my memory from many years of reading political theory at University. I have no idea what Meriam Webster's political ideology, but let me refer you to their silly definition of "conservative". They are clueless.

JimB: No, sir. You don't know what you are talking about. Increased CO2 leads to increased photosynthesis which leads to an increase in O2, not a decrease like you asserted. Whatever happens after that is irrelevant. Your point was idiotic (#7).

Fred: Who said "the global population is decreasing"?

Ed: The fact is that the developing world does not believe in agw. They are much smarter than you give them credit for.

Jim, tsk tsk, the forests ARE increasing, that is, where they aren't being clear cut so the natives can grow palm oil and sugar cane to sell as "eco-friendly" biofuel. Net net, it is probably a losing game, they are only growing 30-75% faster, but altogether too slow to make up for chainsaws and idiots in government letting them get away with it.


They apparently "believe" fervently enough (or conveniently enough) to insist on repayment of "carbon debt" by the developed world, plus forward payments to assist them to adapt and remediate, plus free technological assistance and access to advanced technologies. (I give them credit for being smarter than you think.)


I suspect that their belief far more 'convenient' than 'fervent'.

Carson, you're a horrible cynic! ;-)

I bet you don't believe in the "noble savage" either.



Are you sure you're not guilty of "faulty philology"? One of the disputed metrics of note here preferentially suggests cynics are those for whom "...virtue is the only good and that its essence lies in self-control and independence." Of course, as Don H. points out, there may have been several great leaps forward since my 1974 edition! ;-)


If my philology is faulty, it certainly ain't the only thing that doesn''t work right anymore. :-)

Does that mean that, since I am both independent and controlling, I am therefore virtuous? Whodathunkit!

It sounds to me like you need a more politically correct dictionary. However, I can't say much, since my Marks' Mechanical Engineers Handbook is older than that.



Only people have intrinsic rights. No organization, whether industrial, interest group or government has intrinsic rights.

In democracies and representative republics, government is granted rights by the people, as are other groups including corporations. While those rights are not intrinsic, they exist and can be exercised and defended. While you may find that inconvenient, it is nonetheless the case.

You might wish to change that situation. However, be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.


James Carson: You wrote” DonH: Well... If you want to associate yourself with Malthus, be my guest. However, nothing that he predicted has turned into reality. Not even close.”

When Malthus wrote his famous essay circa 1800 world population was about 0.8 billion. Some fraction of this 0.8 billion was poor and malnourished.

In 2009 world population is about 6.8 billion or a bit more and perhaps 1.5 to 2 billion are grindingly poor and seriously malnourished. Taking the lower value that suggests there are about twice as many desperately poor people on the planet today than the entire population of Malthus’s time.

Contrary to your assessment I am inclined to say the old boy did pretty good.

James: "I suspect that their belief far more 'convenient' than 'fervent'. " -- See, that's where you guys all get it wrong. You operate on beliefs, I operate on provable facts.

James wrote:

"JimB: No, sir. You don't know what you are talking about. Increased CO2 leads to increased photosynthesis which leads to an increase in O2, not a decrease like you asserted. Whatever happens after that is irrelevant. Your point was idiotic (#7)."

Of course, anything that happens in the future, even the immediate 6-month future is 'irrelevant' to commenters such as yourself. That would involve 'planning' and 'forethought' and 'insight'. Yuck!

Jim: See their church, the stock market, operates on that time frame so they have to work similarly. Their church's belief system demands it.

Jim and Len, no need to tire your pretty little fingers any longer, I've acquired some simple flow charts for all your typical diatribe comments, therefore we just point to the requisite row and/or column for your canned response. You can thank me later. :)

Hmm, that would look better bigger, let's do it again so you won't have to strain your eyes:

Just today I was reminded of the proposal by “scientists” to apply soot to vast Arctic surfaces to retain more solar energy in an attempt to slow the progress of the New Ice Age according to “climate experts” already well advanced. (This was only about 30 years ago.)

So I wonder if Jeff’s charts might be recycled from when they were titled: “How to deal with an Ice Age skeptic in a warming world”?

Ed: Your view on rights as recognized by the courts is simply wrong, if not bizarre. Freedom of speech, religion, and petition are not limited to individuals.

DonH: Your 'old boy' whom you have chosen to follow, Malthus, made his predictions about Europe. He predicted that population growth in the UK, France and the rest of Europe would eventually be checked and flattened by epidemics, famine, pestilence, disease and generally shortened mortality. I was under the impression that western Europe has been fairly prosperous since Malthus wrote his prediction. I understand that, not only have populations grown substantially in Europe since 1800, Europeans have managed to learn how to feed themselves, even exporting food these days. Is there something that you know that the rest of us do not?

I liked your point about the recycled charts. I find it amusing that some of the very people who believed in global cooling are the leading global warming Cassandras of today. Someday, to be called a 'Hansen' may well be associated with those who advocate passionately on both sides of a debate and are nevertheless wrong twice. Hmmm.... To advocate contradictory views while never getting it right.

JimB: You made the point the increased CO2 led to decreased O2, that their relationship was zero-sum. I made the point that your argument was idiotic (8) because it could only be true in a static and bounded system. However, the biosphere is dynamic and not bounded. In such a system, an increase in CO2 leads to an increase in photosynthesis, which necessarily leads to an increase, not a decrease in O2 production.

So, how do you come to the bizarre conclusion that I lack 'planning', or 'forethought' or 'insight'??? I think that, on the contrary, my insight has amply demonstrated that your notion is indeed idiotic (9). You, otoh, have shown yourself to be confused, even clueless; I take no credit for that.

James Carson: You are right. I should have been more prudent qualifying but quite frankly I didn’t think it necessary. I did however, somewhere above, point out how European countries with declining populations are producing more than they consume and the huge increase in misery in numerous countries with increasing populations following the Malthusian model.

It’s hard to fault Malthus for not predicting the distorting effects of the leaps in technology, i.e. application of fossil fuel energy in Europe. But possibly even this may be no more than a 200 year slippage. Nor do I fault Newton because just about everything he did is falsified by Relativity.

(Ahem!! I think only I have made the perfect prediction. In 1975 I had a seat at the table for a big meeting of Oil companies, Refiners, Refinery Construction Cos., and such as Design Engineering Cos and Process licensors. I was probably the lowest ranking participant – in fact I don’t know why I was at the table. At some point in the discussion I said, “But why would anyone want to build a new (oil) refinery in the United States?” A long dead silence. Well, the last grassroots (new) refinery construction was started in 1975 and I was fired a few months later in 1976.) But I digress.

But the problem isn’t (yet?) in Western Europe. Africans are in terrible shape with solutions hardly imaginable and billions of south Asians in great jeopardy. Makes problems of 300(?) million western Europeans, 300 million Americans and 100 million Japanese look like small potatoes to the other 6,000 million.

Jeff P.

How did that ____ phoney Lomborg get in this thing? Don't you know that he's the boss of the Copenhagen Consensus. And who is the Copenhagen Consensus? Well the last time I was in that wonderful city, I somehow was forced to conclude that it included those lovely people hanging around the railroad station selling various mind expanders.


It turns out Keeling's also been measuring O2 levels (or rather O2/N2 ratios). O2 has been declining steadily at least since 1990. (see page 2.) Oh and look! There is seasonal variation in O2 levels as well! Just as I suggested.

I agree that the biosphere is dynamic, but it is NOT unbounded. Last I heard, there is very little known life beyond the 7,900 mile diameter of the planet we live on.

Keeling Curve


"It is roughly true that the oxygen depletion is equivalent to a displacement by carbon dioxide."

There is a reason that we have coal in the first place.

Coal was created by toxins that killed all the bacteria that would ordinarily have decomposed the plant life that became the coal. When we dig up coal and burn it, we release those toxins back into the environment. What killed the decomposing bacteria to create the coal is free again in the environment to kill us.

Coal can easily be replaced with natural gas. Since NG is a gas, we can easily remove toxins before it is used. We already do this. Natural gas is clean enough to cook with on unvented stoves insde your home---try doing that with coal.

All we do with coal is boil water----we can do that just fine with natural gas.
Natural gas is much easier to extract and move around than coal. We already have an extensive natural gas pipeline system in place and in use now. And natural gas is much better environmentally. Natural gas does not come from strip mines And we can make methane from sewage and landfills, or anything else biological. We need to be treating sewage and capturing landfill gas anyway.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. But CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas. Methane is also a greenhouse gas. Methane has 17X the heat capture ability of CO2. This means that if we capture methane that would ordinarily escape into the atmosphere, mix it with fossil methane and burn it----we exchange high GHG methane to low GHG CO2. Just a 6% mixture of biometane in fossil methane will produce greenhouse nuetral emissions. And methane,(CH4) is 80% hydrogen by volume. Compared to coal(100% carbon for empirical chemical purposes), natural gas produces more energy and less than 1/2 the carbon dioxide.

We can run our vehicles on compressed natural gas. With extremely low emissions. It is already being used for vehicles where ultra low emissions are critical, forklifts in enclosed warehouses, shuttles in National Parks for example.
Bi-fuel vehicles do everything our current vehicles do, cost no more to build, and can run indefinitely completely petroleum free if used with either diesel or flex fuel engines for the liquid fuel. And natural gas costs less than either petroleum or electricity to use, a lot less.

Fiat Siena Tetrafuel can run on four fuel types


Most natural gas is now used to heat buildings and water. Solar thermal is cheap and easy to manufacture and install, and it is ideally suited to heating buildings and water. Thermal energy is easy to store and access. Use solar thermal "helper" systems to drastically reduce the amount of natural gas now used to heat(and cool) buildings and water and we free up a lot of natural gas to run our vehicles. In effect, running our vehicles on free solar energy, with the natural gas not used in furnaces and water heaters.

No matter what you do to clean up smokestacks---coal still comes from strip mines that destroy the earth and watersheds. You can't strip mine a gas.

Natural gas is ideally suited to provide base power generation for wind and solar power. It can be used in diesel engines to generate electricity efficiently and quickly. And it does not require long start up periods---just start the engine and generate, unlike coal. And natural gas diesel power generation can be mobile----unlike coal. Point of generation can be moved close to the point of use, minimizing losses due to transmission. There are no power transmission losses in using natural gas.

To convert coal burning plants to natural gas, all you need to do is remove the coal grates, and install gas burners. Nothing else needs to change. Buildings, boilers, turbines, generators, condensers, grid, connections, controls---everything else remains the same. You won't need flue scrubbers, trains, trucks, front loaders, bulldozers or holding ponds for mountains of toxic flue ash.

So, what is so hard and expensive about using natural gas and leaving coal in the ground?

Fred L.,

1 short ton of coal = 20,000 c.f. of NG energy-wise. The U.S. uses about 1000 million short tons of coal per year, mostly for electricity generation. To displace that with NG would thus require about 20 tcf of additional NG use. Since we already burn about 20 tcf of NG per year, you would be talking about doubling our present NG usage. I don't think that is practical; either in the short term or long term sense.

James Carson

The key word is "INTRINSIC".


Jim, not sure about your two sources (which are really just the same source). Here's the Oxygen Cycle, you see that our 20% in the atmosphere is a minuscule percentage of the total in the crust. Although I read both the links, no one described a mechanism by which the O2 is leaving, just claimed that it were so. Unfortunately that is like Hansen backing up one of his papers by referring to another paper, HE wrote! Of course if the mechanism you're pointing to is that the atmosphere can only hold so much gas, then with the massive (just kidding) addition of ppm CO2, there might be a corresponding ppm loss somewhere else, according to Boyles Law and keeping everything STP. Is that the mechanism they're talking about? On the other hand, more plants growing faster will indeed produce more O2, which has to go SOMEWHERE. Perhaps all that iron we're taking out of the earth's crust is rusting anew and binding O2?

It turns out very little of the earth’s oxygen is in the atmosphere.

I found a calculation I did 7/31/71. Taking data from page 2 of Lewis Outline (At the moment I can’t remember what that is) giving the weight percent of elements in the earth’s crust. At 49.2 percent oxygen is by far the biggest part of the crust, which includes the atmosphere,

I remember that I was surprised, and surmised: Perhaps everything that can be an oxide is an oxide. So I tried it. I oxidized all the Si, Al, Fe, Ca, Na, K Mg, and H. (I realized the actual minerals are complex oxides (alumina-ferro-magnesium silicate kind of stuff) but the metal +’s and the oxygen –‘s have to balance.) Grinding manually through the numbers I was amazed at how close total oxygen matched the oxygen required to oxidize the + elements. No oxygen was “left over“for the atmosphere.

Notice that neither nitrogen nor carbon make the list of common elements through 99% of the crust’s weight (yet in every living cell), being only two of the scores of elements constituting only one percent of the earth’s crust. This also means that the oxygen in the atmosphere is a very tiny percentage of the crust’s total oxygen.

It’s also remarkable that I found this calculation.


You say you read the links, but then you don't really read them. The mechanism is burning hydrocarbons which produces both CO2 and water, H2O. That's where the O2 is going. And no, it's not like Hansen backing up his paper with another one of his papers. It was an additional link clarifying the first. Here's another. And no, no one has said the atmosphere can only hold so much gas.

But most importantly, no one has said that more plants growing faster produces more O2!! That's just an assertion on James' part which has no basis in reality. He calls me to task on this, but states nothing to prove his point. I've cited 3 references, including work by Keeling, who knows a thing or two about atmospheric measurement. O2 levels in the atmosphere ARE declining.

Jim B.------there is a glut of natural gas on the market right now, and the price is falling.

Reason. Recent improvements in drilling and recovery techniques are increasing recovery far beyond expectations. Even older fields that were thought to be pretty much played out are producing beyond prediction. Add to that deposits that were discounted as unreachable are suddenly becoming actively productive. We have more natural gas available than we have storage space for.

Add to that, biomethane. If we mix just 6% biomethane with fossil methane, the resulting emissions are GHG nuetral. We can produce biomethane from anything with organic content. We need to be treating sewage and capturing landfill emissions anyway.

Add to that natural gas use displaced by solar thermal heat collection. Solar thermal can heat buildings and water which reliably and cheaply(free once the initial installation is paid off). If we then use the natural gas not used for heating in our vehicles, we are in effect driving our vehicles on solar energy.

Now add some conservation. Diesel/CNG bi-fuel engines are high compression/high thermal efficiency----about 40% efficient compared to about 20% for low compression gasoline engines. Compressed natural gas which has a comparative octane rating of ~120 is a perfect match for liquid diesel. It also easily overcomes the major drawback of liquid diesel fuels, both petroleum and biodiesels. They do not vaporize well and tend to gel in cold weather. With a bifuel engine, this is not a problem. You start and run the engine with CNG until it is warm, then you switch to liquid fuel if you need to. This has been done in Scandinavia and Russia for years. With diesel/CNG bi-fuel engine vehicles you can get about 30% more mileage per BTU input than you can with low compression gasoline engines. And natural gas costs less than 1/2 per BTU what petroleum does.

We have plenty of natural gas available. Solar thermal energy is cheap and easy to manufacture, install and maintain. It is also effective. With either diesel/CNG or Flex Fuel/CNG vehicles, we can use the infrastructure we currently have with minimal changes. Most homes and service stations are already hooked up to natural gas pipelines via utilities now. It would be an easy matter to add compressors and scaled storage for refills----either from home or service stations. Liquid petroleum and biofuels can be mixed in any proportion we need to achieve the amounts we need. We can even go completely petroleum free if we want to.

So, we produce less than 1/2 the CO2 we produce now by burning coal. Then we shift the use of natural gas with solar thermal to a new use in vehicles. This still produces CO2, but displaces CO2 produced by burning petroleum. We further displace CO2 produced by petroleum by using biofuels. We capture biomethane that would ordinarily escape into the atmosphere, and mix it with fossil methane---and we reduce a very potent GHG to CO2 with a far less heat capturing capacity, and a much shorter atmospheric lifetime.

We can end most environmental damage, have the energy we need, do it without a large investment in technology and only small changes in infrastructure. And we can save money.

We can convert to a natural gas/renewable energy mix easily, smoothly and without a great amount of expense or disruption to what we have now. And we will end up saving money in the long run.

Ed: "You might wish to change that situation. However, be careful what you wish for, because you might get it." -- I have no wish to see "that situation" (sic. the right of government to grant rights to corporations if in interests of voters) changed. However, what governments can grant they can also withdraw, without risking any of your darkly foreshadowed problems. Agreed, it would likely end in disaster IF the "right of government" were taken away, which is your argument. However, that move is NOT what I advocated.

Incidentally, on a separate issue, I've just watched PBS's The Warning, available online at CBC website. Everyone with any thoughts on government must watch this.

Fred Linn,

I agree that we should use as much NG as possible. That would include biomethane and even synthetic methane (produced artificially via electrolysis and the Sabatier reaction) if and when applicable. But I don't think we can simply displace ALL coal use with methane any time soon. I'm not sure the pipelines could accommodate a 2X load so easily.

I also question your comment that a 6% biomethane mix is GHG neutral. Compared to what? If you are comparing it with biomethane that would leak to the atmosphere anyway, those sources are very hard to exploit economically. The "easy" ones (i.e,, landfills) are already tapped, and seem to have a lot of sulphur, which isn't so great. I also think the GHG effect is more like 9X for methane, not 17X, those reasonable people can disagree on that. It depends on how long you extend its lifetime as CO2 (after having broken down in the atmosphere).

FWIW, I also agree that the ultimate personal vehicle is one which is a plug-in hybrid running on NG fuel, with perhaps a tiny liquid fuel tank for added range and access to the existing fuel structure.

Jim B.

________"But I don't think we can simply displace ALL coal use with methane any time soon. I'm not sure the pipelines could accommodate a 2X load so easily. "------

LNG(liquified natural gas)

--------"I also question your comment that a 6% biomethane mix is GHG neutral. Compared to what?"-------------

I've already explained it twice. CO2 is a greenouse gas. But it is not the only greenhouse gas. Methane is produced naturally by bacteria action in decomposing cellulose and other organic molecules. Swamps produce methane---that is what "swamp gas" is. You can see methane bubbling up from below the surface. Ruminant animals produce methane, cattle, goats and sheep----they have 4 stomachs. Their stomachs act as bacterial culture media for cellulose decomposing bacteria that allows them to digest grass. Termites have the same adaptations that allow the to eat wood. Termites are the largest single source of methane.
Methane has 17X the heat capture ability of CO2. Mix methane that would have excaped into the atmosphere with fossil methane and burn it---the resulting emissions are entirely CO2, with far less heat capture capacity. A 17X reduction = 6%, anything above a 6% mixture and the resulting mixture would have less GHG capacity than simply doing nothing and allowing the methane to escape ino the atmosphere. We would be working within the natural framework of the carbon energy exchange cycle, not outside of it.

---------"If you are comparing it with biomethane that would leak to the atmosphere anyway, those sources are very hard to exploit economically. "---------

Nonsense, it has been done for years. Look up biogas. Sewage treatment is a prime source of methane, we need to be treating sewage anyway.

--------" The "easy" ones (i.e,, landfills) are already tapped,"--------

We've barely even scratched the surface,

-------"and seem to have a lot of sulphur, which isn't so great."-------

Coal contains sulphur from millions of years of contact with the earth. Fossil methane contains some sulphur----but it is easily removed before it is used bcause it is a gas. You can't do that with coal. We do that already----that is why people can cook with natural gas inside their homes.

Biomethane contains some contaminants, CO2 and water vapor, but those are easily removed----or, it can be used as is, it just has a slightly lower BTU content.

---------"I also think the GHG effect is more like 9X for methane, not 17X, "------

Look it up. It is 17X.

--------" It depends on how long you extend its lifetime as CO2 (after having broken down in the atmosphere)."----------------

Plants remove CO2 from the atmospere by photosynthesis. That is why we have increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. We are digging up and putting carbon into the atmosphere faster than plants can take it out----the CO2 builds up.

---------"FWIW, I also agree that the ultimate personal vehicle is one which is a plug-in hybrid running on NG fuel, with perhaps a tiny liquid fuel tank for added range and access to the existing fuel structure."--------------

The Fiat Sienna tetrafuel is on the market and selling faster than they can make them in Brazil. It can run on gasoline, ethanol and gasoline mixtures, pure ethhanol, or natural gas.

Diesel engines offer high efficiency, around 40-45%, similar to that offered by hybrids. Without the expensive batteries and electronics. And diesels have their efficiency across the board----city and highway. Hybrids derive most of their increased efficiency in stop and go city driving, there is little or no increase in efficiency in sustained highway driving. And there is a considerable difference in available power. The VW Jetta has 140 hp compared to a Toyota Prius at 98 hp. And diesel engines can use biofuels with no modifications-----they can run on anything from B5 to B100.

Both a Fiat Sienna (Flex Fuel/CNG) or VW Jetta (diesel/CNG) bi-fuel vehicle can run indefinitely on any petroleum/biofuel/natural gas mix------or they can run without ever needing a single drop of petroleum.


---------"Both a Fiat Sienna (Flex Fuel/CNG) or VW Jetta (diesel/CNG) bi-fuel vehicle can run indefinitely on any petroleum/biofuel/natural gas mix------or they can run without ever needing a single drop of petroleum."-----------

You can't do that with any hybrid being built today.

Jim, from your most recent link: Researchers speculate that plants today could be growing more rapidly due to warmer conditions, higher carbon dioxide concentrations Just like your misunderstanding of MY graph which demonstrated improved or vastly improved plant growth with additional CO2. However, that can't compete with bulldozers and chainsaws and government mandated idiocy to clearcut old-growth forests and jungles to plant mono crops like sugar cane and palm oil in the name of "global warming mitigation". Grasses like sugar cane can't store the carbon that trees obviously can. Your thought experiment concerning CO2 going right back into the atmosphere every hear assumes everything is a grass, not a tree. And of course phytoplankton blooms are now happily taking up residence wherever the ice sheets are retreating, leading to MORE oxygen and less CO2. From your own site

Therefore, to summarize: More CO2, more photosynthesis, more oxygen thwarted by more urbanization, more deforestation, less biomass leading to less oxygen *(minutely less, but less nevertheless)* ;)


I think we are vectoring toward consensus here, but look at the Keeling curve for CO2. (Not O2, but CO2). The CO2 level dips and rises every year. The dip is due to Summer growth of plants. But what would the rise be due to? It's due to most of that growth dying and rotting away.

Basically, the only way to add more O2 to the atmosphere is by plants performing photosynthesis and having that plant material RETAINED in some matter for long periods of time. That is, no rotting and no burning.

you mean like phytoplankton does naturally (falling to the bottom of the sea)?

Yes, or peat bogs.

Fred Linn: "Diesel engines offer high efficiency, around 40-45%" - You will find if you investigate, that is far too high an efficiency quote for an auto diesel by N. American rules (HHV). That's PERHAPS do-able by European rules (LHV) on a test stand at constant optimal rpm and load with no accesories or drivetrain. Gasoline burning processes gain 5% efficiency by using LHV rather than HHV, diesel perhaps 4%. The difference is whether the latent heat of vapourization of the water content of the exhaust is included as available energy or not.


FYI, fuel cells, gas turbines and combined cycle power plants are also rated based on LHV. Unfortunately, natural gas is sold based on HHV.

Virtually all equipment covered by efficiency rules is specifically designed to test well under the applicable rules.

"What you measure is what you get."


The LHV/HHV ratio for hydrogen is particularly atrocious, like 82%. Most other fuels are about 90-95%.

Len G.----------"Fred Linn: "Diesel engines offer high efficiency, around 40-45%" - You will find if you investigate, that is far too high an efficiency quote for an auto diesel ........"---------------------

-------"It operates using the diesel cycle (named after Rudolf Diesel). Diesel engines have the highest thermal efficiency of any internal or external combustion engine, because of their compression ratio. Low-speed engines diesel engines thermal efficiency exceeds 50%.[1][2][3][4][5]"-------------


50% is greater than 40-45% (the actual number is 51.7%)

------------" The third-generation ethanol engine is an adaptation of Scania’s 9-liter diesel engine with charge-cooling and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The engine delivers 270 hp (201 kW) of power and torque of 1,200 N·m (885 lb-ft), and offers a thermal efficiency of up to 43%, compared to thermal efficiency of up to 44% for diesel, according to Scania. "--------------


---------"Scania’s compression-ignition (CI) ethanol engine is a modified 9-liter diesel with a few modifications. Scania raised the compression ratio from 18:1 to 28:1, added larger fuel injection nozzles, and altered the injection timing. The fuel system also needs different gaskets and filters, and a larger fuel tank since the engine burns 65% to 70% more ethanol than diesel (whoa! see below). The thermal efficiency of the engine is comparable to a diesel, 43% compared to 44%."--------

-------"Scania must be betting on cellulosic ethanol."--------------


44% thermal efficiency for Scania regular diesels is between 40-45%.

Fred: Let me know next time you find a 9 litre diesel in an auto. And again i reiterate, check if HHV or LHV is being quoted. Wiki posters don't likely know the difference. The relative efficiency of spark ignition vs compression ignition engines IN IDENTICAL TEST CONDITIONS is not very great, perhaps 5%. Regarding mpg, additional gains are gotten from the higher energy density of diesel fuel vs. gasoline, at the expense of higher relative carbon emissions for diesel.

It's generally acknowledged that diesels are about 20% more efficient than gasoline engines, when you account for all issues, including the higher energy density of diesel fuel compared with gasoline.

"Efficiency can be improved by 10 to 15 percent in the near term (by 2020) and by an additional 15 to 20 percent in the longer term (2030) with improvements in conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs) (NRC, 2009). The use of diesel (compressed-ignition) engines could provide small additional improvements."

National Academy of Engineering - Energy Efficiency in Passenger Transportation

The Carnot e of an Otto Cycle (spark) engine is e=1- [1/r^(k-1)]. The e of a diesel engine is the e of an Otto engine times a function of the diesel engne’s cut off ratio. This function is always less than 1. So at the same compression ratio an Otto engine is always more efficient than a diesel engine. Carnot died in 1821 so all this has been known and unchanged since then.

Note that r, compression ratio is the only thing you can change.

Carnot e (ideal or maximum thermodynamic efficiency) times an “engine efficiency” gives the efficiency of a real engine. “Engine efficiency” is dependent on correct air to fuel ratio, and reducing loses, reduced friction/ windage, better breathing(more and bigger valves and manifolds), and such things as lower lube oil viscosity and more nibbly stuff, but you get the idea. All these things have been understood since time began and refined for a hundred years, particularly since the first oil crunch and mileage became a bigger issue worth spending money on

The specific heat ratio, k=Cp/Cv, (@ constant pressure / @constant volume) for a diatomic gas such as air is taken as 1.4. This is called the “cold air std.” Some say this unrealistic at the elevated temperatures and use 1.3 called the hot air std.

The ratio of hydrogen atoms to carbon atoms in liquid fuels does not vary much. 15 pounds of air to one pound of fuel closely fits most situations. It's an easy but tedious calc. Gasoline and diesel have about 2 atoms of hydrogen to 1 atom of carbon. Today’s engines have exhaust analyzers to tweek the air fuel mixture. No one laments the demise of the carburetor.

Here is one example: Otto cycle, compression ratio of 10. Cold air std. e=1-1/10^(1.4-1) = 1-1/2.152 = .6019. Let’s say our engine attains 50% of perfection, .50 x 06019 = 30.9% at the “sweet point” If this is a 200 HP engine and you are only using 40 HP, or if the engine has a partially closed throttle e will be less.

Most people are incredulous at how little HP they use going down the highway. If you are getting 30mpg at 60mph you are using 2 gal per hour. At about 12.5 HP-hours per gallon the engine is only putting out 2 x 12.5 or 25 HP.

A few more comments. While the greater density of diesel fuel increases mpg it does not increase efficiency. Gasoline weighs about 6 pounds per gal, automotive diesel about 7 pounds per gal. If the gasoline is highly aromatic, i.e. has a high percentage of benzene and toluene it will weigh more than 6 pounds per gallon and have a little higher HV per gal. Large diesel engines as on ships or as turning large power generators run on cheaper and denser oil. Liquid hydrocarbons all have about 18-20,000 BTU/ pound HHV. Engines don’t care about volume. Ethanol has a lower heating value than hydrocarbons but a higher density. Adding ethanol to gasoline results in lower mpg, not likely noticeable at 10% except to those keeping scrupulous records.

It is really somewhat fatuous to talk about thermal efficiencies in trucks and autos. A vehicle in traffic has different e almost from second to second, and in a sense zero e at a stop light. Diesels don’t have to run on diesel oil. They will run on slurried coal dust or peanut shells. The first ones ran on vegetable oil. A vehicle often gets its best e coupled with its worst mpg, as going up a hill.

I am looking at a test stand plot for a about a 1940 car engine of r =6.7 from 400 to 4000 rpm. Brake thermal efficiency (the product of Carnot and “engine efficiency”) peaks at 23%. “Engine efficiency” peaks at about 51% and is 50% or better from 1000 to 2600 rpm, but drops to 34% by 4000rpm. The designers of this engine did not intend this engine to run at 4000 rpm. They attained good characteristics at rpm’s most likely to be used. An engine today might peak at 30% rather than 23%.

The e benefits of increased compression ratios continue but gets rather flat after compression ratios over 20. That’s God’s will as revealed by Carnot, no way to change that.

There is nothing more that can significantly increase the efficiency of IC engines. Stop looking for unicorns.

Picky, picky, picky----what are you, a bunch of old hens?

High compression diesels are more efficient than low compression gasoline engines. Period.

We can drive cars with diesel/CNG or Flex Fuel/CNG with as much petroleum as we want, or no petroleum at all. Oil causes all sorts of environmental damage, economic damage, political and social damage.

We need to get rid of oil, for our own good. For the economy, for national security and for the environment.

The way to do that is to have a choice. You picky old hens can use petroleum if you want to------the rest of us will use biofuels and natural gas.
And we'll be driving at about 1/2 the cost that you do.

We need to get rid of coal. For environmental reasons, for health reasons, for economic reasons and for social reasons. We can easily and cheaply convert coal burning plants to natural gas. The rest of you can search around the junk yards and maybe you can find some old coal furnaces to install in your homes. And go shovel coal in them every few hours and shovel out the cinders and ash. I hope you are in good shape. Hefting around those cast iron water radiators ain't gonna be easy. You'll have to get up pretty early in the morning. I haven't ever seen a coal fired microwave.

----------" Gasoline and diesel have about 2 atoms of hydrogen to 1 atom of carbon. "-------------

And methane has 4 hydrogen atoms per 1 carbon atom(CH4).

---------" If you are getting 30mpg at 60mph you are using 2 gal per hour. At about 12.5 HP-hours per gallon the engine is only putting out 2 x 12.5 or 25 HP. "----------

Try passing a slow moving 53' truck going up an 8% grade with switchbacks every 200 yards or so with a 25 hp. car.

Fred L,

Fair enough. I dunno the economics of alternatively fueled diesels vs. plug-in hybrids. The small diesel market is pretty atrophied in the states (vs. Europe) due mostly to tighter particle emission standards. I'm thinking CNG diesels are probably better with particulate emissions. Is that true?

CNG cannot be used alone in a Diesel cycle engine, since methane will not compression ignite. CNG/diesel engines are operated bi-fuel, typically with a pilot charge of 5-10% diesel fuel, which compression ignites and then ignites the natural gas/air charge.

Therefore, a bi-fuel NG/diesel engine has far less potential to produce soot.


Fantastic post, Don. Excellent. Precise and to the point. Just would add the equivalent calculation for the diesel cycle.

Otto cycle, compression ratio of 10. Cold air std. e=1-1/10^(1.4-1) = 1-1/2.152 = .6019. Let’s say our engine attains 50% of perfection, .50 x 06019 = 30.2% at the “sweet point”

Diesel cycle, compression ratio of 10. Cold air std. e=1-1/10^(1.4-1) = 1-1/3.031 = .6701. Let’s say our engine attains 50% of perfection, .50 x 06701 = 33.5% at the “sweet point” (3.4% higher probable, 6.8% theoretical)

Most of the notable difference is due to more engineering effort going into diesels, and customers demanding better of diesels. Also note a diesel of the same rating as a gasoline engine at full power will loose more parasitic into bearings, heavier oil and higher pressure fuel injection.

Also, with the gasoline direct injection engines now being developed, diesel's advantage will shortly go away (HCCI engines are being designed to operate at 33% + compression ratio, no throttle, any fuel mixed into manifold.)

Sorry, that should read:

Diesel cycle, compression ratio of 16. Cold air std. e=1-1/16^(1.4-1) = 1-1/3.031 = .6701. Let’s say our engine attains 50% of perfection, .50 x 06701 = 33.5% at the “sweet point” (3.4% higher probable, 6.8% theoretical)

--------" I'm thinking CNG diesels are probably better with particulate emissions. Is that true? "------------

Methane is a gas.

Methane is cheap. No one heats their home or water with electricity or petroleum if natural gas is available.

Recent advances in drilling techniques have expanded supplies and reserves. Fracking and transverse drilling techniques and made previously low production reserves much more viable. There is a glut of natural gas on the market right now, we have more availble than there is capacity to store it.

There might be some confusion about my 30mpg, 60mph car using 25HP example above.

Suppose we shrink the engine to 1/4th size making it, say, a 50 HP engine from a 200HP engine. The 200HP engine was running at 1/8th max hp, the smaller engine has the same load (25HP) but is operating at ½ its max. This would place it at a more efficient point on the performance curve. So instead of getting 30 mpg it might get 36 mpg. This would correspond to thermal e’s of 25% and 30%.

Len, thanks for adding the diesel example.

I do have a gripe about sly methods sometimes used to make one fuel or energy source look better than the competition. I would like to see HHV and cold air STD assumed unless specifically stated to the contrary. I would like to see capacity factors being used explicitly stated, and not blended with name plate capacities in the same article. I would like to see all subsidies and tax benefits write-offs and contributions to projects with public money clearly presented in making comparisons with the costs of other methods.

Ed R.---------"CNG cannot be used alone in a Diesel cycle engine, since methane will not compression ignite. "------------

I don't know about the speciic specifications you refer to Ed, but I don't think that is true of all engines.

There are many diesel engines that run on natural gas that do not use any other fuel(that I know of). They are larger industrial type engines, usually used for electrical generation.

If compressed natural gas would not ignite, it would not work as a fuel. Maybe they use a hotter glow plug or something.

All I know is the diesel/CNG that I'm familiar with, always started no matter how cold it got, if it needed liquid fuel to get started, it wouldn't have started.







If you have references on diesel cycle engines running on 100% natural gas, I would be very interested in seeing them.


Ed, I've heard of the Cummins diesel pilot starting engine and have seen something else like it available for the genset standby market for some time. Unfortunately, I didn't find the vendors in a quick search. 100% natural gas is highly unlikely in a diesel engine for just the reasons mentioned, but seems to work ok once real diesel has gotten the engine running. For reasons unknown that seems to be a popular configuration for backup power in telco and hospital applications.

I don't know why diesel starts better than natural gas, but that also seems to be the case. Doesn't do much good to have a fancy backup power system if it doesn't start once the real power is gone. My friend has a 20kw house unit on nat gas that is programmed to start and run every Tuesday at noon for 20 minutes. Works great, but when they were without power for three days in the middle of the summer heat wave, never started at all, even with the vendor sweating over it getting yelled at by the wife. LOL

Ed--------interestig links, thanks. I'm looking over the NREL pdf, closer. From looking at the references it appears to be about 10 years old. Good information though. The point of the article appears to me to be getting the same or better efficiency rating despite using 2 or more fuels.
Diesel engines can be converted as dual fuel natural gas engines relatively easily
because typically there are no changes in the engine compression ratio, cylinder heads, or
basic operation as a diesel cycle engine. Even the sophisticated computer controlled dual
fuel systems are being developed as ‘bolt on’ technologies that can be removed if
necessary, to resell the vehicle as a normal diesel engine. These conversions are easy to
install and easy to maintain. This flexibility makes these engines very useful in many
global markets."------------------------------

-------------"Currently there are companies in Italy, the United Kingdom,
United States, Canada and Australia, to name some, that are supplying a variety of dual
fuel engines and technologies. Caterpillar Engine currently offers four different models of
dual fuel capable engines that meet U.S. Federal and California emission standards.
Detroit Diesel currently is developing a dual fuel, natural gas/diesel engine as well."-----------------


Caterpillar Diesel and Hatural Gas engines.



My recollection is that hospital standby power systems require on-site fuel storage. A system capable of burning NG, diesel or both together would qualify with sufficient on-site diesel storage.


How we digress. Seems the subject here is supposed to be coal.

Nearly on the eve of Kyoto II (Copenhagen) I read today that China expects to double the amount of coal it will import in 2010 to 100 million metric tons. It also announced it will increase imports of coal to 200 metric tons over the next few years. Domestic production, already the world largest, is being increased to “supply the Chinese people with needed electricity.”

Oddly those trying to nibble down world coal consumption by talking don’t seem to be able to see this. The emperor has no clothes.

Natural gas makes an excellent choice to transition away from coal.

Fred: The people have no bread to eat.

Let them eat cake.

Poppa, won't you take me back down to Muehlenburg county.
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay.
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking.
Mr. Peabody's coal train done hauled it away.
---------------------John Prine


Dear Friends:

We have discussed at length on the subject. Now it is the poll time. If you feel 'coal' should be gradually replaced with other materials say 'Ya'. If you like to continue with the use of 'coal' say 'Nay'.


The term gradually allows for quite a bit of wiggle room.

Where's all your hyperbole Rmanathan? Your title says, "Digging for Coal Will Gradually End in Digging Our Own Graves " and NOW you're talking about "gradually" replacing coal with other materials? Where's all the doom and gloom, death trains and other BS? Are you saying the death trains should "gradually" be replaced with "life trains" of what, nuclear? Did you lose the courage of your convictions or did some of the discussion diminish your ardor?

I'm all for "gradually" replacing ALL fossil fuels, not because I believe the hogwash being fed me by so-called climate scientists, but because they have other uses (like plastics) that our great grandchildren might appreciate. In the meantime do I want to see economies destroyed worldwide because we don't have a ready replacement for fossil yet?

It is an Incompetent question. (Yes or no, do you still beat your wife?)

Must I say it again today? When we started using coal there were fewer than 1 billion people on the planet. All of a sudden like a rampant cancer growth we are approaching 7 billion. That nasty coal allowed us to keep far more people alive at the same time. Shame on coal. Too bad there are no re-deals.

--------I'm all for "gradually" replacing ALL fossil fuels, not because I believe the hogwash being fed me by so-called climate scientists, but because they have other uses (like plastics) that our great grandchildren might appreciate. In the meantime do I want to see economies destroyed worldwide because we don't have a ready replacement for fossil yet?"-------------

We have replacements. We can completely replace coal and petroleum. And we can do it entirely with technology that we have right now, and have had for over 50 years. Anything made with petroleum can be made with black liquor. Natural gas can replace coal quickly and easily---and we will need no trains to transport it.
Solar thermal is cheap to manufacture, install and free to use. And solar thermal power is ideally suited to work best at the applications that natural gas is most used for right now. Natural gas and biofuels can power our vehicles, cleanly, with minimal and inexpensive change, doing everything we do now, and at less cost than petroleum.

-------------" not because I believe the hogwash being fed me by so-called climate scientists........"------------

You seem perfectly happy to use anything else science has provided. I guess it is only "science" if it fits into your tight little world of self gratification.

---------"The term gradually allows for quite a bit of wiggle room."----------

How about ten years? Ten years is plenty of time.

--------"It is an Incompetent question. "-------------

No, it is not an incompetent question. It is perfectly legitimate. Your reply is incompetent. The only thing I get from your reply that you blame everyone else for your own greed and avarice. It's too bad the rest of the world might infringe on your own little world of privilege. greed and avarice.

---------"Too bad there are no re-deals."--------------

I have it on good authority that there is a re-deal coming someday. For everyone. The Dealer has said "Whatever you do for the least of mine, you do for me." He also said, "As ye sow, so also shall ye reap." When that day comes, I think I'd rather be in the position of doing whatever I can to help the least of his. It was Marie Antoinette who said "Let them eat cake." as you quoted to me earlier. Well, look how she ended up

Fred wrote, referring to me: “The only thing I get from your reply that you blame everyone else for your own greed and avarice. It's too bad the rest of the world might infringe on your own little world of privilege. greed and avarice. (conntinuing)

I have it on good authority that there is a re-deal coming someday. For everyone. The Dealer has said "Whatever you do for the least of mine, you do for me." He also said, "As ye sow, so also shall ye reap." When that day comes, I think I'd rather be in the position of doing whatever I can to help the least of his. It was Marie Antoinette who said "Let them eat cake." as you quoted to me earlier. Well, look how she ended up”

I am inclined to believe Marie had an easier death than your guy, at least according to Scripture.

Well, making this into a religious issue puts a new and unexpected (to me at least) slant on things. If Jesus is to give us a re-deal then I don’t think I, nor any rational person, can make further comment. How fatuous to debate those to whom the laws of chemistry and physics and geology, and arithmetic don’t always apply. (As an obedient child I went through Evangelical Lutheran Catechism. I was then and remain an atheist.)

Be what you wish. Ramanathan and I will go on without you. Maybe we will fail. We don't know what the outcome will be. But we will have thrown everything into the battle.

------"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."-------------Theodore Roosevelt

-------" How fatuous to debate those to whom the laws of chemistry and physics and geology, and arithmetic don’t always apply."--------

I made some potato/cheese/bacon soup the other day, and I couldn't eat all of it before I left for work. One of my German Shepherds, Riga, must have thought long and hard about it while I was at work.
She knows she's not supposed eat anything off the table. So, she picked up the pan and put it in her food dish. When I got home, I found the pan licked as clean as if it had been in the dishwasher. All I could do was laugh. She didn't break the rules-----but she is pretty good at bending them to make them fit.

So, I'll just take a lesson from Riga------if the rules don't fit, just bend 'em till they do.

Man-made laws, rules, are readily broken hence they entail sanctions or punishments of some kind. Natural laws need no such provisions because they cannot be broken – or much cuter, they cannot be bent, even a little bit.

It’s a great pity we use the same spelling for law, as in man-made law and natural law. The two ideas are quite unrelated. (My ancient M-W after giving six or so definitions under Law rightly sends the reader off to the listing of Natural law if that’s what he is after. The definition of horse does not tell us much about the horsefly.)

I am reminded of well-meaning legislators making 3 the legal value of pi. Less obvious laws are still being passed.

---------" The definition of horse does not tell us much about the horsefly."--------

No. But riding a horse and working in a stable will teach you a LOT about horses and flies very quickly.


(click on gallery about half way down the article for pictures)


Don, here is an interesting historical footnote for you.

The first successful airplane flight by the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk was ignored by the mainstream media as a fraud and a hoax because most "experts" at the time thought that flight by heavier than air craft was impossible.

It was not until over 3 months later the first account of the accomplishment was published in, of all places, a beekeeping journal. "Gleanings of Bee Culture" carried articles about the Wright brothers and their flying machine by editor and publisher A. I. Root--starting in the March 1, 1904 issue.


It seems ironic to me that news of the Wright brothers historic first flight should first come to the world through a journal devoted to beekeeping. A creature who the experts all declared should not be able to fly due to the "laws of aerodynamics". But they appearantly don't listen to experts who can't fly---they just fly. And make honey.

It wasn't until May, 1908(4 1/2 years later) that Scientific American first reported on the Wright brothers accomplishment.


Without coal we run out of electricity and that is the way we are going. I think somebody on this site mentioned about a year ago, that America could start running out of electricity in I think it was 5 years time so at the moment we can't survive it.
And now Pickens Boon has packed up his wind farm we could have problems.