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Effectively reducing carbon emissions is a lot harder than saying you will

President Barack Obama’s announcement that coal plants will limit carbon-dioxide emissions and actually doing it are not the same. Carbon capture doesn’t work, and wind and solar don’t replace fossil-fuel power plants. We are switching to natural gas from coal; this  reduces carbon-dioxide emissions because natural gas burns hydrogen as well as carbon to provide energy. The hydrogen turns into water vapor.

It’s easy for politician lawyers of either party to make pronouncements. The actual science is a lot tougher. I didn’t hear a word from the president about unpopular but effective tough measures like carbon taxes — or about new non-emitting nuclear plants that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz advocates.

Don’t hold your breath (4 percent carbon dioxide) for any real reductions in emissions.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Bill Lindeke on 07/01/2013 - 03:05 pm.

    particualte pollution

    Actually, because of all the particulate pollution, you probably should hold your breath.

    • Submitted by rolf westgard on 07/01/2013 - 04:12 pm.


      Coal is the major problem, but with expensive scrubbers etc, sulfur, mercury, soot, etc can be controlled.
      There isn’t much that can be done to sequester CO2.

  2. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 07/01/2013 - 10:40 pm.

    The people who will pay the highest share of a carbon tax are those who live in the Midwest, south and mountain states, i.e. those who do not live in big cities on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Whether deliberately or not, carbon tax schemes proposed so far would all transfer money from red states to blue states, from poor to rich, and from country to city. Any politically feasible carbon tax has to correct that problem. That unmentioned problem is a big part of the politics of carbon taxes in the US.

    Natural gas emits half as much CO2 per unit energy as does coal. Consider it a bridge to the future of solar power, as well as an important adjunct to renewable sources (it’s still there when the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing). Natural gas, by the way, is essential in the short term to allow us to shut down coal plants, and in the long term to provide load balancing for intermittant renewable sources of power. We will not manage our climate change problems without cheap fracked natural gas.

  3. Submitted by Brian Lavelle on 07/02/2013 - 06:52 am.

    Solar revolution

    A solar revolution is quietly changing the relationship we have with Pachemama. It has so disturbed the top-down investor owned grid utility, that Erison Electric recently referred to as ‘the disruptive influence’. Solar panels prices have been tumbling, but will never be free. The biggest obstacle holding back many folks from taking the plunge, is that they are reluctant to pay forward their energy bills for the thirty plus years that the equipment is expected to last. However, recent weather events and wildfires have woken many of the sleeping multitudes to the fact that we cannot continue burning carbon energy in any of it’s forms. Payback is getting shorter, but the bigger benefit we gain from converting to silicon energy, is true national security (from the coal goons, from the BP goons and criminals, from the sand mining and attendant water threats) we all derive from widely spread, efficient, non-polluting horizontal production of essential energy. A world of seven billion humans has no place for top-down anything…..especially not life’s essentials. For the price of installing solar today, we gain a lot of demand destruction to the most dynamic, but now the most destructive, blindly obstructionist, wealthy and powerful industry in the history of humanity.

  4. Submitted by rolf westgard on 07/02/2013 - 09:08 am.


    Erratic and diffuse solar panel energy is one tenth of 1% of our electric supply despite billions of subsidies. Solar panels have not replaced a fossil fuel plant anywhere on earth. For that you need natural gas or nuclear.

  5. Submitted by rolf westgard on 07/04/2013 - 02:32 pm.

    Subsidies from the EIA

    On a per barel of oil equivalent, total subsidy for oil and gas – $0.28; coal $0.39; nuclear $1.79; biofuels $20.37; Wind $32.59; and solar $63.00.

    Fossil fuels have been concentrated by nature. The so-called renewables are diffuse and can’t survive in the market place without direct subsidies. Don’t dig too deep for fake numbers.

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