Environmental Compatibility Clean Coal Technology

Posted on September 05, 2008
Posted By: Richard Goodwin
 
Coal represents the United States’ most abundant energy resource. Coal-fired power plants provide 50 percent of our country’s electricity. The U.S. coal resource could satisfy energy demands for the next 200 years. Coal-fired plants provide a more stable cost of electricity than natural gas which has fluctuated by 300 percent in the last few years. Coal-fired power plants are mistakenly perceived as “dirty” and causing environmental harm – especially air pollution.

The Modern Coal-Fired Power Plant

When coal is combusted in the furnace boiler the resultant flue gas contains pollutants that must be removed. Today’s coal plants achieve regulatory using commercially available technology. The following table shows removal of regulated pollutants.

Pollutant Percent Removal
Particulate 99.9 %
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) 90 - 98 %
Oxides Nitrogen (NOx) 80 – 90 %
Mercury (Hg) 50 – 90 %

Air Pollution Control Technology

Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) -- The fluegas laden with flyash is sent through pipes having negatively charged plates which give the particles a negative charge. The particles are then routed past positively charged plates, or grounded plates, which attract the now negatively-charged ash particles. The particles stick to the positive plates until they are collected. This ash is used in various construction materials e.g. additive to cement forming improved concrete.

Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) -- SO2 is an acid gas and thus the typical sorbent slurries or other materials used to remove the SO2 from the flue gases are alkaline. The reaction taking place in wet scrubbing using a CaCO3 (limestone) slurry produces CaSO3 (calcium sulfite). When FGD were first introduced this so called ‘FGD sludge’ was ponded. But some FGD systems go a step further and oxidize the CaSO3 (calcium sulphite) to produce marketable CaSO4 • 2H2O or gypsum1.

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) -- SCR achieves NOX reduction by introducing Ammonia (NH3) with proprietary catalysts upstream of the ESP. The resultant material exists with the ash. Increasing the auxiliary or over-fire air also aids in removing NOX .

Mercury (Hg) -- Activated carbon is introduced in the flue gas upstream of the ESP – adsorbing the solid-phase Hg. The resultant material is contained in the ash.

New Coal-Fired Power Plants and Global Warming Greenhouse Gas

During the last several months, thousands of megawatts of new coal-fired power plants have been delayed or cancelled (e.g. Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, and Idaho). These cancellations are attributable to the issue of GHG or control of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – an unregulated gas but product of coal combustion. Recently, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley formed The Carbon Principles, which are climate change guidelines for advisers and lenders to power companies. These investment banks are more likely to finance proposed coal-fired power plants that capture greenhouse gas (GHG) and bury (sequester) them. An often-cited, recent Kansas decision denied an air permit to Sunflower Electric Power due to the absence of CO2 removal. Such policies prod developers of proposed coal-fired plants to commit to controlling GHG emissions – most notably CO2.

Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC)

IGCC consists of Gasification, Syngas Cleanup, Gas Turbine Combined Cycle and Cryogenic Air Separation: Gasification or partial oxidation of the feedstock with pure oxygen inside a reactor. The carbon and hydrogen from the feedstock are converted into a mixture composed primarily of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This mixture is commonly called synthetic gas, or syngas. The syngas from the reactor must be cleaned before it can be used as a gas turbine fuel. The cleanup process typically involves removing sulphur compounds, ammonia, metals, alkalytes, ash and particulates to meet the gas turbine's fuel gas specifications. IGCC potentially yields marketable products e.g. methanol, ammonia, fertilizers. The cleaned syngas is combusted in the gas turbine. A cryogenic air separation unit provides pure oxygen to the gasification reactor, often using or supplemented with post-compression air bleed from the gas turbine.

IGCC has demonstrated CO2 capture for several years (TECO Polk 5 Station) and is commercially available for grass-root units (e.g. Bechtel/GE) and under demonstration study as retrofit approach (e.g. Alstom, American Electric Power, WE Energies). Carbon disposal (Sequestration - geological burial) has not been commercially demonstrated and represents a significant cost unknown. Whether or not federal or state (e.g. Kansas) regulators can arbitrarily mandate that electric utilities incorporate undemonstrated technology into their proposed plant designs is unanswered. Even so, the public and media arena requires electric utilities to consider carbon capture in their siting considerations.

IGCC and Using Captured CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery

Integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC), a commercially demonstrated technology for Carbon (CO2) capture is marketed as turnkey approach via Bechtel and General Electric's long-term alliance. The recent alliance with Schlumberger addresses the outstanding question of what to do with captured CO2. The alliance of Bechtel, GE and Schlumberger offers Electric Utilities a turn-key option to address Green House Gas Issues Carbon Capture and Sequestration (Storage) - promoting coal-fired power plants.

Integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) has been operating commercially for several years at Tampa Electric's Polk Unit No. 5. IGGC was proposed, but aborted, for TECO's Polk Unit 6, a 630-megawatt coal-fired new plant.

GE Energy has signed a carbon sequestration alliance agreement with Schlumberger Carbon Services to accelerate the use of "cleaner coal" technology. The agreement aligns GE's experience in integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) systems with proven carbon capture capabilities and Schlumberger's geologic storage expertise and capabilities for site selection, characterization and qualification.

This alliance offers electric utilities with a turn-key approach to implement IGCC technology. GE and Bechtel worked together to offer a packaged approach for IGCC implementation including: Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Equipment, Technology. The Schlumberger Alliance offers a solution to the disposition of captured CO2. Given suitable geological formation and known oil reserves, captured CO2 can be injected to achieve Enhanced Oil Recovery.

While the new arrangement provides technical and commercial expertise for moving forward with coal-based power generation, clear regulations and policies are needed for large-scale implementation. GE's IGCC plants can be built with CCS from the beginning or designed to be retrofit when clear policy and regulations create an appropriate environment.

Carbon Capture Does Not Ensure Siting Coal-Fired Power Plants

Among the 26 coal-fired projects cancelled since March 2006, at least two included carbon capture. Tampa Electric’s (TECO) abandoned its Polk 6 630-megawatt Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC). TECO has been operating IGCC (technology designed to remove and capture CO2) for several years. TECO would have received a $250 million tax credit from the US Dept. of Energy (DOE). Southern Company’s Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) also cancelled plans to build a 285 MW IGCC unit – foregoing a $ 235 million USDOE grant. Although these plants had received regulatory approval, the economics of carbon sequestration may have played a part in their cancellation.

Factoring in Carbon Capture and disposal (sequestration - geological burial) increases the cost from 20% to 30 – 40 %. Upon realizing, that Florida’s governor and appointed Public Service Commission would not have sanctioned increased electrical rates (for sequestration); plans for these IGCC plants were abandoned2.

FutureGen

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (USDOE) recent cancellation, of the 275-megawatt, $1.8 Billion FutureGen Industrial Alliance Inc.’s demonstration project (funded by private-public consortium and includes gasification, CO2 capture and sequestration), slated for Mattoon, Illinois, was due to excessive cost. The USDOE intends a restructuring to convert the $1.8 Billion prototype – demonstrating Carbon (CO2) Capture and Sequestration (CCS) – to a series of CCS demonstrations on operating facilities. USDOE will invest $648 million in advanced coal research much of it focused on CO2 disposal – the least technically demonstrated and highest cost unknown. Developers of proposed coal-fired plants could commit to incorporate demonstrated sequestration technology when commercially available (2015-2016 using the USDOE timetable) – satisfying environmental concerns. To avoid Global Warming Threat (i.e. excessive GHG), scientific consensus determined that US should achieve 80% CO2 (Carbon) reductions by 2050.

Incorporating Carbon Sequestration in Siting Future Coal Fired Power Plants

The USDOE will replace its original FutureGen with a structured approach. A multi-plant approach will be employed to demonstrate carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at multiple commercial-scale IGCC clean coal power plants. Forty IGCC plants (totaling 23,000 MW) have been proposed. Besides the restructured FutureGen, the Southwest Regional Partnership for Carbon Sequestration has conducted field research beginning in 2003 and a new project involving large-scale sequestration, to be based near Price Utah, has $67 million in federal funds and $21 million from private partners like ConocoPhillips. Such programs should yield demonstrated technology with reliable costs. Developers of proposed coal-fired plants could commit to incorporate demonstrated sequestration technology when commercially available. For example, Alliant (developer of 650-megawatt coal plant Sutherland 4, Marshalltown Iowa) proposes to address environmental concerns by designing the plant for future incorporation of carbon sequestration equipment if needed. Electric utilities could adopt this posture provided that the costs of CO2 capture and burial can be recovered.

  1. Goodwin, R.W.; "Oxidation of Flue Gas Desulfurization Waste and the Effect of Treatment Modes"; Journal_Air_Pollution_Control Association; Vol. 28, No.1, Jan. 1978, pp 35 39.

  2. Goodwin, R.W.; “Article Questions Government Power”; Waste News; Feb. 4, 2008, p. 8.
 
 
Authored By:
Richard Goodwin, PhD, is an Environmental Engineering Consultant . Dr. Goodwin has more than 25 years of experience in the waste treatment, disposal, by-product utilization, conducting studies on conceptual engineering and system performance and operations, ash management, securing regulatory acceptance for construction and demolition recycling and disposal projects, investigating viability of Landfill Gas Energy Extraction from abandoned landfills, evaluation of landfill operations, and testimony for hazardous emissions for proposed landfills.
 

Other Posts by: Richard Goodwin

Shale Gas -- Friend or Foe - February 01, 2012

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Comments

September, 06 2008

Jim Beyer says

Two Questions:

First, does CC&S for EOR actually result in a net reduction of carbon emissions? It would seem that the added oil produced would also produce carbon dioxide when burned. Oil that would not otherwise be recoverable.

Second, when tying carbon capture to a coal-fired plant, you are expending precious on-demand energy (from the coal) to run this ancillary process (carbon capture). If you decoupled the process by removing CO2 from the ambient air, you could at least make use of less utile intermittent resources such as wind or solar. Obvious disadvantage is the lack of a concentrated CO2 source, but there are other advantages as well.

Also, mercury removal is not high enough. If mercury is not a problem, then why has the American Dental Association quietly stopped using mercury amalgam for fillings? [Kinda scary to think about how much mercury is leaching from the fillings of all the old white men in Congress....]

September, 06 2008

Edward Reid, Jr. says

Jim,

I had intended to comment that even if pollutant removal were at the "99&44/100ths percent pure" (Ivory soap) level, it would not be clean enough to satisfy the "enviro's". Your comment did it for me. Thanks.

Assuming that the choice underlying your first question is: "this oil vs. no oil", the answer might be meaningful. However, the actual choice is between this oil and other oil, from somewhere else, from shale, from tar sands, etc. In that case, the answer is equal or less CO2.

There is no CO2 removal technology for removing CO2 from ambient air which makes any sense at all if we (globally) are still adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Process efficiencies are too low and costs are too high, especially if you are relying on intermittent processes powered by intermittent sources of electricity.

If 90% mercury removal is not high enough, we might as well shut down all of the coal-fired generation now and hope for more rapid global warming; or, at the very least, for slower global cooling than is now occurring.

September, 06 2008

Jim Beyer says

Ed,

I should have been clearer about the mercury. 90% is probably reasonable, and probably close to the limits to what can be done practically. 50% is much less so. I guess I'd say that range is a bit too broad for my comfort. If they have one plant doing 90% and all the others at 50%, that would fall in that range.

The fish in the Great Lakes can only be eaten one per week due to mercury content. This is per FDA guidelines. Most of that mercury came from coal plant emissions, so don't tell me I'm an irrational 'enviro'. 50% would have the accumulation rate, while 90% would reduce to 1/10. A big difference.

I don't understand your comment about CO2 emission. Then why waste time with CC&S at all? And why tie it in with EOR? (They can probably find other sources for the CO2 if it is that useful.) This all seems to be posturing on the part of coal.

It's ironic when you point out to the oil companies that "drill, drill, drill" will do little to offset the supply demand imbalance. You get some line back like "Every little bit helps" or "We have to start somewhere". But when mention CC&S with respect to coal burning, you get "we (globally) are still adding CO2 to the atmosphere".

At this point, it's unclear to me that the lowest cost method of CO2 containment at this point is improved efficiency and conservation. Otherwise known as leaving unburned coal in the ground. (Maybe that will change as the easier efficiency moves get played out.)

September, 07 2008

Edward Reid, Jr. says

Jim,

If you re-read my comment above, you will see that I wrote: "There is no CO2 removal technology for removing CO2 from AMBIENT AIR which makes any sense at all if we (globally) are still adding CO2 to the atmosphere."

My point was that CC&S (from exhaust streams), no matter what its cost, is cheaper than removing CO2 from ambient air and sequestering it. It is simply an issue of CO2 concentration and process efficiency. It is far easier to keep the CO2 from entering the atmosphere than to remove it once it has mixed into the atmosphere.

The available technology for removing CO2 from the atmosphere may be suitable for restoring the atmospheric concentration of CO2 to the "ideal" level, but it is totally impractical as an approach to preventing further increases.

Ed

September, 07 2008

Dharam Bir Arora says

Clean Coal technology as described in the article has not at least been adopted in India.I have worked in Power Generaion Projects with small units of 10&30 MW.These units had stoker firing and later 50 and 120 MW which worked on pulverised coal firing.All these units did not have sophisticated controls for pollution mitigaion and not even ESP for removal of dust particles in the ash.Ash in the slurry form was just released in the river causing pollution. It is just a few years back units of 200 MW and above have been commissioned .These units too have limited pollution control equipment.ESP perhaps is the only equipment which can be considered controlling dust pollution about 70%.Removal of and NO3 and SO2, is not much cared for and there is no accurate monitoring. It is assumed ,the sulphur is very low in the coal and so SO2 quantity should be neglegible.CO2 capure has not been provided for in the planning. Carbon capture and CCS technology so far has not been provided in any of the new plants with units of even 500 MW capacity. In fact as stated in the original article and subsequent comments the CCS system adds to the capital cost of the of the project and as result energy tarrif. Already 50% losses are recorded due to resistance of coductors, theft and unmeterd energy because some low income groups directly driving energy. Tariffs ae already unbearable for the industry specially, and general consumers who are paying honestly.Any increase in that wiill mean unrest and unwelcome for the government. Therefore projects with carbon capture and sequistration of CO2 have to be first started as demonstration for technology development by the government.Once a reasonable cost is arrived at laws in this respect can be strictly followed.The equipment for CCS can only then be mandatory for new projects.Even then some subsidization on equipment shall have to be provided and also technological transfr to the poorer countries made easier and very cheap.This is necessary in view of the advantages of CCS and its providing protection from global, warming a subject of global importance.

D.B.Arora

September, 07 2008

Jim Beyer says

Ed,

I'm not so sure that removing CO2 from waste streams is necessarily cheaper than pulling it from the ambient air. It may well be, but there are two sides to it. First, because of the extra energy needed, extra coal needs to be burned, so even more CO2 is created in the first place. Second, the technology needs to be sized for the plant's maximum output, even though much of the time it might be running at a lower rate. Third, the capture is necessarily near a point of convenient for electricity production for the grid, not near a point of convenient sequestering.

An ambient air system could be run with intermittent sources such as wind and solar. There is not timeliness (at least in the short run) as to when the CO2 is extracted. It could also be located near a sequestering location, saving transport costs, provided the location is sunny and or windy. You probably want windy, as you need some way to expose the collection media to lots of air, as the concentration of CO2 is so low.

I will readily admit that this might be faulty logic. The main energy cost in CC&S, however, is in the separation, not the collection. Again, not really reasonable (in any case) without a global interest in CO2 emissions. On the other hand, you need to start somewhere.

September, 09 2008

Steven Peterson says

Jim,

Ed is correct. When you start with CO2 at 200ppm (or 400 if you like), and try to run the air past some absorbant, your efficiency will be so abysmally low that it makes the process improbale at best.

As far as every little bit would be a help, I think we would all grow tired of having canisters of absorbant everywhere we want to step, which is what literally would be required to make a dent. And we would run out of landfills to put all of the expended absorbant material, long before we got the world under control. This just will not work.

I am pretty sure that it would take way more energy (solar, wind, coal, nuclear, no matter) to generate the absorbant. And since clogging up all windy areas would not be nearly enough, there would be fans to run more air in other areas past the absorbant.

People would be longing for uncontrolled GHG generation before you ever made a dent.

When I was on a nuclear submarine, we had ro regenerate our own air while submerged. With a nuclear power plant, energy is relatively abundant, and energy efficiency was not the question, For a war machine on patrol, the only question is can it get the job done?

Normally, CO2 extraction was done by amine scrubbing the exhaust from several small combustion machines that burned CO and unburned hydrocarbons (methane, if you catch my drift) out of the atmosphere. The CO2 scrubbers did not get rid of the CO2, but they sequestered it and it was compressed and sparged overboard to the ocean. And they were not particularly energy efficient. But they usually worked.

When both CO2 scrubbers went down (one time in my career) the first step required was to drastically reduce the generation of CO2 in the closed circuit atmosphere of the submarine. No smoking (it's the NAVY - and fantisticly, to me they consider it an unalieable right to smoke most of the time!), no one not actually assigned a duty allowed out of their bunk, and food preparation limited to dishes that do not put more CO2 or unburned hydrocarbons int he air.

Next, hundreds of little battery-powered fans blowing through absorbant beds were placed around the ship. They were everywhere! The best we could do was keep the CO2 below 700ppm! And we did not exactly remove the CO2 from the world. All of the absorbant chemical beds were collected after use and dumped overboard.

I am certain the extra energy to sequester the CO2 from a burned coal exhaust stream would be WAY less than trying to directly remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Trying to do so would be a net loss, not a place to start.

The real question is whether CO2 pumped underground would really stay there.

September, 09 2008

Scott Greenbaum says

We have seen this movie before. Clean coal, low tar cigarettes, cigarettes do not cause cancer, asbestos is not dangerouse. The same stratagy, delay, confuse, denial, and hide the truth so that the same product can be sold. Clean coal is a myth just like all these other dangerouse products where myths. In the end many people are hurt for a profit for a few people. Its time to move on to the new clean energy sources. The sooner we make the transition the sooner we get energy cost under control, cleaner air, economic growth, and a better standard of living.

September, 10 2008

Len Gould says

It just seems rational to me that the cheapest and most efficient way to sequester CO2 is to grow a LOT of plant matter, then place it deep underground in a sealed chamber. Sort of like nature has already done for us.

September, 10 2008

Mark Daily says

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your thoughtful and fact filled article. I appreciate the research you did putting this together. I also appreciate you trying to keep an objective tone to your presentation. I just have a few questions.

You write -"While the new arrangement provides technical and commercial expertise for moving forward with coal-based power generation, clear regulations and policies are needed for large-scale implementation."

What are your thoughts on what makes a clear regulation or policy that can move this development along? Do you favor state or federal participation - or both?

You mention that coal as a fuel creates pollutants and show the extent to which current power plants remove pollutants in your table with the following information.

The following table shows removal of regulated pollutants.

Pollutant Percent Removal Particulate 99.9 % Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) 90 - 98 % Oxides Nitrogen (NOx) 80 – 90 % Mercury (Hg) 50 – 90 %

While your numbers look impressive, the public so far, doesn't have any way of understanding what these numbers mean to their health. As some of the previous comments point out, there is a wide difference in our understanding of the health impacts of power generation.

What are your thoughts on getting past this to regulatory compliance numbers that are meaningful to our health and not just a compromise between extreme positions?

I look forward to your response and thanks again for your hard work

September, 10 2008

Richard Goodwin says

to Mark Daily I will attempt to address your comments

IYou write -"While the new arrangement provides technical and commercial expertise for moving forward with coal-based power generation, clear regulations and policies are needed for large-scale implementation."

What are your thoughts on what makes a clear regulation or policy that can move this development along? Do you favor state or federal participation - or both?

Regulations should be based on commercially demonstrated technology [BACT and MACT] A typical coal-fired power plant costs hundred of millions of dollars and these monies should be spent on proven technologies. The technologies for remvoing traditionsl pollutants [SO2, NOX, particulate, Hg] are proven and commercially available. Removal of CO2 via IGCC has also been demonstrated but the utilizations and/or burial is still under study. Policy makers should appreciate that crafting legistlations without sound technical understanding creates a high level of uncertainty. These legilsators should seek guidance from the practicing technical community.

You mention that coal as a fuel creates pollutants and show the extent to which current power plants remove pollutants in your table with the following information.

The following table shows removal of regulated pollutants.

Pollutant Percent Removal Particulate 99.9 % Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) 90 - 98 % Oxides Nitrogen (NOx) 80 – 90 % Mercury (Hg) 50 – 90 %

While your numbers look impressive, the public so far, doesn't have any way of understanding what these numbers mean to their health. As some of the previous comments point out, there is a wide difference in our understanding of the health impacts of power generation.

The percent removals of pollutants coincide with USEPA regulatory requirments i.e. regulations based upon health and/or environmental impacts.USEPA has primary role in establishing thiese criteria and demonstrated pollution control technologies must achive these requirements on a commercial basis i.e. performance guarantees.

What are your thoughts on getting past this to regulatory compliance numbers that are meaningful to our health and not just a compromise between extreme positions? As an engineer who has worked for and consulted to pollution control suppliers, I just ask regulator officials to state removal requirements and then it is up to the industry to acheve these removal levels in the most cost effective manner. Richard W. Goodwin 561-689-3525 email: richard.w.goodwin@att.net

September, 12 2008

Jeff Presley says

Everyone blew by Dharam's post, but I think it bears closer scrutiny. Since we all share the same swimming pool of atmosphere here, it won't really matter if we have a no-peeing section in OUR part of the pool, if you get my drift. How much of our multi-billion dollar coal plants are going into pollution mitigation, and then ask yourself how much money they're spending for same in China and India? If you guessed ZIPPO you've hit the nail on the head! Therefore, they aren't building mult-billion dollar plants, they're building quite affordable ones, albeit cutting short the lifespans of their neighbors in the process, ironically while improving the odds of said lifespan with all the benefits of energy. What we SHOULD do is dust off some designs from the 60's and 70's and HOPE Chindia will use them gratis, because at least then it won't be as horrible as it could be. Asking them to remove CO2 when they aren't even removing flyash, NOX and SO2? Laughable.

Calling the CO2, which is necessary for ALL LIFE ON EARTH TO EXIST (with the possible exception of subsea vent sniffing critters) a pollutant and somehow throwing it into the same bucket with Hg, NOX and SO2 would likewise be laughable if so many weren't taking it seriously. Len accidentally hit the nail on the head when he said plants (think trees, they're more 3 dimensional) are the perfect CO2 scrubbers. Indeed they are, just like God (or tremendously propitious random chance for all you atheists out there) planned it. ;)

Meanwhile we have even more recanting from respected scientists like this one, worrying now about whether they'll ultimately be held criminally liable once the house of cards starts to collapse. Don't worry Len, I know you won't click on the link, so your mind won't be cluttered with more inconvenient FACTS.

September, 12 2008

Jim Beyer says

Well, I don't want to get into a huge global warming debate with Jeff (again) but he's absolutely right in that any effort to curtail emissions in one country without the other ones following suit is rather hopeless.

Google's efforts to develop renewable energy sources "cheaper than coal" while perhaps unrealistic technically, and at least realistic from a market standpoint. People will continue to use coal with little or no curtailment of ANY emissions, until something cheaper comes along.

September, 14 2008

Len Gould says

"CO2, which is necessary for ALL LIFE ON EARTH TO EXIST " -- the well is getting pretty dry if you need to dredge up THAT bit of misinformation.

Items: 1) CO2 is really the only pollutant which when emitted in India, can affect life in N. America. Ok, questionably some SOx from China may get to California, but no great significance.

2) trees .."are the perfect CO2 scrubbers." -- Only if the carbon they hold is PERMANENTLY taken out of the bio-sphere at the same rate as burning coal adds carbon to it.

I've followed enough such links to know already what will be at the end of them. If any genuine new science were to suddenly change present calculations, the genuine science links I keep track of will explain them, without me needing to track down the (typical lack of) credentials of the authors. Posing such is simply another tactical attempt to confuse the issue and waste the time of your opponents.

September, 14 2008

Jim Beyer says

Jeff,

Yes, the vent sniffing critters need CO2 also. (They have lots of carbon atoms in them, just like every other living thing). Iron is also necessary for our lives (our blood contains iron) but that doesn't mean it's wise to eat a barbell everyday.

You are a smart guy, so I don't get why the concept of having too much of a good thing might not be a good thing is so hard for you to understand.

You could make the same argument that more oxygen is better. It probably actually is, for people anyway. When people are sick at the hospital, they get put on oxygen, not CO2. Well, as long as we are burning fossil fuels, we are swapping oxygen for CO2. But even too much oxygen is not a good thing, above about 50% concentration at 1 atmosphere, health effects being to occur. So even too much OXYGEN is not a good thing.

September, 15 2008

Jeff Presley says

Len, the reason you don't follow my links is because they aren't part of the circular reasoning society you'd rather run in, period. Realclimate.org, which used to say GOOD things about Evans has come out in force against him OF COURSE, as they have against all apostates, er I mean dissenters from their religion, er I mean unverified and unverifiable hypothesis. Evans wrote the primary computer models that PREDICTED all the sky is falling nonsense in the first place, sorry he's got honesty now, but the same folks who vilify him are using HIS models to back up their "hypotheses". But this is all too deep for you, just like CO2 being necessary for photosynthesis, therefore necessary for all life on this planet. Oops, more misinformation if you come from the land of Nod that is, where down is up and right is wrong.

Trees, permanent, ONLY if you believe and can PROVE that the OPTIMUM CO2 level has already been reached AND somehow account for the fact that man's contribution to the WHOLE is anything beyond the puny percentage it is. But we've been over this ground before, you'll say prove it, I'll post dozens of links, you'll ignore them waiting for the circle logic society to come clean, they won't, and the merry game continues. The emperor is wearing NO CLOTHES, and you're just going to save yourself embarrassment if you stop complimenting him on his attire. Or not, the world might need more sycophants.

Jim, so when my mother was dying in the hospital and they put her on 100% oxygen I should have sued? Even when she came back from the dead, literally? There WAS a health effect, in that her unhealthy life was over and oxygen helped bring her back. Please tell me you only play doctor with little girls and on television, because if you do so in real life I'm going to be real worried. At least you're intellectually honest enough to admitCO2 is a good thing, Len can't even bring himself that far, blinders are sure a wonderful thing ain't they, if you're a horse that is. :)

September, 16 2008

Jim Beyer says

Jeff,

100% oxygen helps people who aren't breathing well, but a healthy person breathing 100% oxygen over several days will suffer the effects of hyperoxia. Premature babies are sometimes blinded because of this.

Too much CO2 is not a good thing. You wouldn't want to be breathing 10% CO2 for any length of time.

September, 16 2008

Len Gould says

Jeff: "man's contribution to the WHOLE is anything beyond the puny percentage it is." -- you lose.

September, 17 2008

A. Shyam says

We seem to admit that we have failed in cleaning up the atmosphere with the scientific knowledge that we boast off and NOW wish to explore newer areas to dump unwanted material there. We do not seem to learn from our mistakes, despite claiming greatest intelligence among all the living creations. This also goes to prove the intricacies with which the world must have been so created. If we propose to dump our waste 5000 mts below, some day somebody might even plan living 5000 m above the earth ('Trishanku' as it is referred in the Indian mythology). Let us stop such crazy thoughts and assume greater responsibility to improve the existing living conditions on earth to pass on a livable world for the younger generation.

September, 17 2008

Bruce Rising says

To Jim Beyer on CC&S

First, I'm really glad to see you use CC&S rather than CCS. I prefer to use CC(S), since the sequestration component is radically different from the capture side.

Injection of CO2 into reservoirs for oil production does not reduce CO2, even if the injected volume of CO2 stays in the ground. you get between 4 and 5 barrels of oil (my estimate, although others may comment on that) per tonne of CO2. That roughly equates to 2 tonnes of CO2 after the oil is burned; so the net impact is +1 tonne of CO2. But using EOR domestically is a great way to enhance regional energy security.

September, 17 2008

Jim Beyer says

A.K. :

I think we'd honor the younger generation by having fewer of them! If we could discipline ourselves in that regard, that might be evidence we are a bit smarter than say, yeast.

Bruce:

That makes sense. I think all this CC&S for EOR is a greenwashing tactic for something the oil companies would do anyway. So I guess they feel they might as well get "green" credit for it, both in terms of the PR and maybe Cap & Trade credits.

September, 18 2008

Jeff Presley says

Len, Well, you sure told ME!

Thou hast spoken oh mighty One, Thou word canst never fail to impress from Thy bountiful munificence.

Of course here on Earth you're no God at all, so I'm not likely to be impressed by your puny pontifications from on high, that is, high up on your self appointed soap box. Now if you had a LINK or some other proof, but no, in your godlike imagination none such is required. More's the pity, as I laugh yet again at your clownlike behavior.

September, 18 2008

Jim Beyer says

Jeff,

(I'd say this is for the last time, but who am I kidding?)

Water vapor is not a forcing factor with global warming. It is, however, a multiplier. Why is this? Because a molecule of water stays in the atmosphere on the average of about 3-7 days. A CO2 molecule, about 100-500 years.

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/wea00/wea00296.htm

September, 18 2008

Jeff Presley says

Jim, for not the last time, I completely disagree with your high school post. If you're ready for more grown-up reading fare, try this one You, like Len are completely wrong, and if it is because you're being hoodwinked by so-called scientists who refuse to divulge their sources and limit their "peer" reviews to "peers" of their own choosing, then let's blame it on those scientists and be done with it. If on the other hand you're buying the religion because you like the religion, then too bad for you, it is a false one.

Strip away the funding, strip away the peer and media pressure, strip away the politics and this house of cards collapses faster than Lehman Brothers.

September, 20 2008

Len Gould says

Jeff: -- One more time around your childrens playground. "Carbon dioxide is released to the atmosphere by a variety of natural sources, and over 95% of total CO2 emissions would occur even if humans were not present on Earth. For example, the natural decay of organic material in forests and grasslands, such as dead trees, results in the release of about 220 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide every year. This carbon dioxide alone is over 8 times the amount emitted by humans. These natural sources are balanced by natural sinks, which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.[8] The increase in carbon dioxide concentration arises because the increase from human activity is not balanced by a corresponding sink." - Wickipeadia with good references. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_the_Earth's_atmosphere

Point is, see bold above. As I said above.....

September, 21 2008

Scott Brooks says

CO2 has risen steadily by some 15~20ppm while the average temps have been flattening out and going down with the suns activity. If CO2 is the GW driver then we should be sweating in our shorts by this time.

http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/002784.html

The Artic Ice cover has increased this year by 13%. Some Scientist were predicting more melting.

Several studies have indicated that CO2 is not the climate driver the IPCC's programs have cranked out. Since the IPCC predictions are mainly from their GCMs they are left scratching their bureaucratic heads. Their main GCM programmer guru has told us that GCM's are not predictors but research tools!

Their are these two nagging articles that blow the whole CO2 AGW claim out of the GW ballpark:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/02/a_tale_of_two_thermometers/

A Tale of Two Thermometers

http://www.dailytech.com/Researcher+Basic+Greenhouse+Equations+Totally+Wrong/article10973.htm

Researcher: Basic Greenhouse Equations "Totally Wrong"

Anyone who tries to tell me we need to sequester CO2 please explain the last 10 years of data that shows CO2 is having a nil effect on climate. This is like saying solar and wind are free energy as if it where it wouldn't need all those subsidies. The IPCC, Gore and all the other AGW proponents have failed to account for the recent chill on CO2 and GW.

The arguments of the links of CO2 to GW are as complex as the arguments on Creationism or the links of tobacco to cancer. There's the science and then there's the pseudo science. People will become so emotionally charged that they will let the pseudo science sway any logical that may reside in their ignorant craniums. The pro AGW arguments are about as pretentious as the claim that Polar Bears are an endangered species.

I saw this nature film “In the land of the polar bears” by Nova. In this film, polar bears swim 85 miles to an island off the coast of Siberia to hunt 2,000 lb Walruses. One 500 lb polar bear ventures into a herd of 50-2,000 lb male Walruses with 2 foot long tusks. The bear attacks one of the smaller 1,500 lb Walruses and kills it and drags it away from the herd while the bigger ones are trying to attack the bear back. Nah, it was no contest for the giant Walruses against the bear. Yet according to Al Gore and various enviros, Polar Bears are endangered due to Arctic ice melting and are drowning.

This is like claiming GW is causing the fires in southern California. To people who have not lived in that area the claim looks to be a dead link. To people who have lived there for ten years or more know that it is more of an ecological factor complicated by humans who inadvertently add to the cause. The AGW fear mongers ignore the natural and direct human factors while hyping on the one claim of the AGW link to drought. And my studies indicate that much is the same for CO2 and GW.

September, 21 2008

Len Gould says

Scott: "The Artic Ice cover has increased this year by 13%."

Please see Washington Post analytical article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/18/AR2008031802903.html

[QUOTE] Nonetheless, the total ice coverage was still 2.2 percent below the long-term average. And the very old ice, which remains in the Arctic for at least six years, made up more than 20 percent of the Arctic in the mid- to late 1980s, but by this winter it had decreased to 6 percent.

Flying over the Arctic, one might perceive the sea ice cover as broad, Meier said, but that apparent breadth hides the fact that the ice is so thin. "It's a facade, like a Hollywood set," he said. "There's no building behind it."[/QUOTE]

"the links of tobacco to cancer." ?????

I'll take the opinion of climate scientists over you amateurs any day, and so should everyone else.

September, 21 2008

Len Gould says

It seems to me that a lot of people are saying "ah, well, I think the odds that the climate scientists are correct about the effects of GHG's being serious is maybe less than 50:50. Lets just ignore it and let our grandchildren take their chances." My point is, what if US military engineering took the position "ah, well, we think the odds of a Cat 4 hurricane hitting New Orleans at high tide in any year are about 1:100 . Let's just build shoddy levies and ignore evacuation planning and emergency planning." Would you accept that position? If your family lived in New Orleans?

I'd like to see Scott and other doubters provide their honest estimates that the IPCC may be correct. Assign your odds to the possibility, then we can have a rational discussion. Certainly no educated person can possibly set the odds at 0, can they?

September, 22 2008

Jeff Presley says

Len "I'll take the opinion of climate scientists over you amateurs any day, and so should everyone else. "

In fact Len, I DO take the opinion of climate scientists over YOU amateurs any day, they just happen to not be part of the lemming majority, but are the smartest, most honest and best of the climate scientists. All other thinking people should do the same, but that isn't politically correct apparently.

Odds that the IPCC is a POLITICAL manifestation and has NOTHING to do with science? 100%

Odds that "your" climate scientists have anything approaching full understanding of weather mechanisms? 0%

Odds that climate scientists like Hansen are honest and not politically motivated? 0%

Odds that data has been "cooked" by dishonest politically motivated fear-mongering so they can get publicity and more funding so-called "scientists"? 100%

September, 22 2008

Len Gould says

Odds that you've dodged the question (again)? 100%

September, 22 2008

Jim Beyer says

100% non sequitur

September, 23 2008

Jeff Presley says

Len, Jim, since your intellects appear unable to read between the lines, let me make myself PERFECTLY clear. Odds that IPCC is "correct". 0.0%

September, 23 2008

Edward Reid, Jr. says

Gentlemen,

It appears that this discussion is currently generating more heat than light, thus indicating that it has become inefficient. For the sake of the discussion, let us change our perspective for a few moments.

While I don't expect each of you to actually suspend either belief or disbelief, as suits your individual situations, I suggest that we assume for a moment that the increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions is actually driving an increase in global average temperature. I suggest we further assume, for the sake of the discussion, that the recent failure of increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions to continue to increase global average temperature is a temporary anomaly.

Some documented facts might be useful at this juncture. Global average temperature, as determined from proxies, has been increasing since ~1600, the trough of the Little Ice Age, until ~2000. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been increasing since ~1750. I suggest we assume that the fact that temperature began increasing ~150 years before CO2 concentrations began increasing was also merely an anomaly.

Logic would suggest that stopping the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations would require reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions below the level of emissions in 1750, since atmospheric concentrations have been increasing since then. That would require a reduction of current global annual CO2 emissions by 99.95%, since current global annual emissions are ~2000 times the annual emissions in 1750. However, even this is a conservative estimate, since the global population of CO2 and methane emitting animals (including us) is far larger than it was in 1750. (Contrast this with Kyoto, Son of Kyoto, etc.)

The meager facts and simple logic above, combined with the model outputs so cherished by the IPCC, should cause us all to question why the IPCC, the IEA, or some other organization of "concerned scientists" has not developed a plan to completely eliminate all global CO2 emissions by some date certain. The closest approach I have seen is the IEA plan to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050, issued this past spring. However, I don't understand the value of "half-a-plan" to solve what so many claim is a "whole problem", particularly if we are careening toward a "tipping point", beyond which life as we know it would change irreversibly.

Don't begin vast programs with half-vast ideas. If you believe we have a serious problem, how about a serious solution? Seems only fittin'!

Ed

Ed

September, 24 2008

Len Gould says

Jeff: Ok, there's where our fundamental disagreement exists. No-one will ever convince me that there is a zero possibility that the concerns documented by the IPCC need specificly to be actioned. I might see a possibility for a rational person to argue that the odds are "in the range of" 10% at an absolutely extreme outer limit. But a 0% position is simply a non-rational religious position with no scientific basis whatever.

I will henceforth refuse to discuss the issue with anyone who assigns 0% to the possibility of adding GHG's to earth's atmosphere at our current rate could cause greater problems now or in future than the net present gains of those addition activities. That will be the first question I will ask prior to discussion.

September, 24 2008

Len Gould says

Ed: Although a 99.95% reduction may be perfect, a 10% reduction is better than a 0% reduction.

September, 24 2008

Len Gould says

Ed. There is also a huge difference between a "1 in 10" slope and a "1 in 2" slope.

September, 24 2008

Edward Reid, Jr. says

Len,

Please note that the 99.95% reduction globally merely stops the growth of atmospheric concentration, other than from the growing animal population. It does not reverse the existing accumulation. That is another issue.

I have yet to see a globally acceptable plan for a 10% reduction in global anthropogenic CO2 emissions . Remember that any such plan would have to offset the 10% growth in anthropogenic CO2 emissions which will result from the commissioning (over the next 5 years) of coal fired generators already under construction in China .

My point was merely to illustrate that the currently proposed "solutions" are, in fact, not solutions to the identified "serious problem" at all. I find the failure to propose serious solutions to this "serious problem" quite interesting and informative.

Ed

September, 24 2008

Len Gould says

Actually Ed, I think you may be wrong about the 99.95% "merely stopping growth". Take a gas mixture and a solvent in equilibrium, held so by extracting a fixed % of one of the gases from the solvent and adding exactly the same amount of it to the gas mixture. Arbitrarily and abruptly increase the concentration of the gas of interest by increasing the addition rate, then return the addition rate back to where it was originally, and leave the the extraction process in place. Fairly quickly, the gas concentration above the solvent will revert back to equilibrium.

September, 24 2008

Len Gould says

Re: "Proposed solutions", quite simple really. Eliminate all use of fossil petroleum in transportation by replacing it with electricity. Then generate all electricity with nuclear reactors and solar-thermal concentrating with storage. (Imagine France with solar-thermal peaking, some storage hydro, and a GOOD smart grid for load leveling). Then continue research on USEFUL technologies like low-cost PV, Optical Rectenna and Fusion.

Only economic problem with that transition is for the incumbent petroleum and coal guys.

September, 24 2008

Len Gould says

And Richard Goodwin, sorry, but I strongly disagree with the thrust of this article, because I suspect that once we research and understand global climate cycles sufficiently to make precise predictions about future climate events, we're likely to find we'll need all the fossil carbon storage nature has kindly provided some time in the future (200 yrs, 1000 yrs??) to carefully increase atmospheric GHG levels just enough to offset the coming ice age, into which we're due to drop "any century now". To waste our future resources of CO2 generation just because we're too lazy or whatever to switch away from it as an energy source is very short-sighted.

September, 24 2008

Jim Beyer says

I find this CO2 debate very intriguing, in an abstract sense. It is interesting how emotional people can get with it. I think I figured out why.

Most 'liberal' causes are about the acceptance of something new, some change, be it gay marriage, abortion, minority quotas, what have you. Some change to the status quo is being pushed, which conservatives then push back on.

Obviously, the CO2 problem has a status quo aspect to it, but the rise in CO2 levels (be it benign or otherwise) does not. You can't really say that the current path of increasing levels is the same as when they were lower. So conservatives find themselves defending "change", and liberals "the status quo" of CO2 levels. Neither of these are roles to which they are accustomed, hence the additional fireworks. That's my take on it.

Technically, the argument is really about which side bears the burden of proof to show that CO2 levels are or are not problematic. After a bit of thought, I think BOTH sides bear the burden of proof, because CO2 levels are rising, so one must justify that this is acceptable. On the other hand, burning stuff (coal) has been the status quo, so justifying the change to the status quo also bears the burden of proof as well.

September, 24 2008

Edward Reid, Jr. says

Len,

I was applying the precautionary principle to my estimate. :-)

Ed

September, 24 2008

Jeff Presley says

Yes Len, YOUR position is simply a non-rational religious position with no scientific basis whatever. But since logic is obviously not your strong suit, I'll spell it out for you, just like the atheist who says to the monotheist, "I believe in precisely ONE God less than you do". You opted for the IPCC "assessment", which has been proven false on SO many fronts I can't even enumerate them all here. From the so-called majority, to the language of the assessment which they were SUED to remove or recant by the original authors of the studies, to the corrupted data, purposely misrepresented figures, the list goes on and on.

But then your lack of logic REALLY gets interesting here: And Richard Goodwin, sorry, but I strongly disagree with the thrust of this article, because I suspect that once we research and understand global climate cycles sufficiently to make precise predictions about future climate events, we're likely to find we'll need all the fossil carbon storage nature has kindly provided some time in the future (200 yrs, 1000 yrs??) to carefully increase atmospheric GHG levels just enough to offset the coming ice age, into which we're due to drop "any century now". To waste our future resources of CO2 generation just because we're too lazy or whatever to switch away from it as an energy source is very short-sighted.

So an intelligent person reading the above would assume you acknowledge we NEED CO2 to SAVE us from impending ecological climate change of the cooling variety? Furthermore, that the present climate knowledge is inaccurate at best?

To summarize what passes for logic in your head it works like this:

We NEED to remove CO2 immediately because even though there is a tremendous economic cost, there is as much as a 10% chance there MIGHT be a problem with global warming in our future, even though we don't know what we're doing in climate prediction.

BUT, furthermore we NEED to keep fossil fuels in reserve to reverse global cooling by purposely emitting massive CO2 to somehow keep the planet warm in some rosy future where we actually CAN predict climate and realize it is going the "wrong" way.

If this were just a mental exercise, I'd be laughing my arse off right now, but unfortunately, the repercussions are so deleterious that laughing is out of the question.

Ed Reid might well be the smartest person on this site, and he's again and again avoided rancor by accepting FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT your proposition, but then showing how logically (there's that word again) the solutions proffered go nowhere near a RESOLUTION to the problem.

IF the problem exists AND IF it is as bad as the chicken little crowd claims THEN only massive intervention is acceptable.

OR the primary assumptions are wrong OR unknown and massive intervention WILL do more harm than good.

They should have taught you one thing in computer science. Garbage In Garbage Out. If the data can't be trusted then NOTHING can be trusted. Step one should be to let McIntre audit all the data, as he's been requesting for years. Don't trust Steve, let others audit it as well, because if the data is WRONG then no conclusions drawn from it can EVER be right.

September, 24 2008

Len Gould says

Ed: Excellent :<]

September, 24 2008

Jim Beyer says

Edward:

There's plenty of deforested areas around. As a single example, several million acres were cut down in the lower Mississippi delta area in the hopes of growing soybeans. Well, soybeans don't grow there very well, but trees could again. This single area could store more than 100 Billion tons of CO2 (biological sequestering) not an insignificant amount. And this is just one area. There are many other places where we've hacked down trees.

Jeff:

Here's a tissue for the glob of foam I see on the corner of your mouth. (Oops, I guess that qualifies as ad hominem...) OK, Jeff, reality is CO2 levels have been rising. You are burdened with proving this is not a problem. Likewise, the environmentalists are burdened to explain why changing the status quo (burning coal) is necessary at this time. So BOTH sides are burdened.

September, 24 2008

Edward Reid, Jr. says

Jim,

As I am sure you are aware, proving a negative is challenging. You are insisting that Jeff roll a huge boulder up a rather steep hill.

Jeff,

Thanks, but I doubt it. I've read too much intelligent thought by others here. I enjoy the opportunity to participate and challenge, as well as the opportuity to learn.

Len,

Thanks. I have my moments.

Ed

September, 24 2008

Jim Beyer says

Ed,

Yes, proving some negatives are challenging, but I don't think this falls in this category. I think everyone agrees we need to understand how the atmosphere works to the best of our ability. One way or anther, we will figure this out.

If I came to your house on a daily basis, and dumped garbage on your lawn, you probably wouldn't appreciate it. But if you asked me to stop, and I said "Well, you need to prove to me that it is really a problem", I don't think you'd find my reasoning satisfactory. You might even demand proof from me that it isn't a problem, despite it being the proof of a negative.

September, 24 2008

Jeff Presley says

Jim, Len, I suggest you both familiarize yourself with Pascal's wager You may not have the logic background to follow everything presented, but the argument is relatively straightforward. The parallels to the "decision tree" we face with climate change are likewise similar. Interestingly, while it is obvious that Len is an atheist, he will be left arguing FOR the Pascal wager, at least so far as climate theory is concerned. BTW Pascal's wager is often used in defense of proving a negative.

Jim, your argument would stand more weight if instead of dumping garbage on your lawn, I watered it. Since CO2 is REQUIRED by your lawn to survive, I'd be giving it something it NEEDS. You have no proof that CO2 in "excessive" amounts is harmful to plants, but I have Report This Comment

September, 24 2008

Jeff Presley says

The tiny text box makes it difficult for my old eyes to see that I missed a close quotes

Jim, Len, I suggest you both familiarize yourself with Pascal's wager You may not have the logic background to follow everything presented, but the argument is relatively straightforward. The parallels to the "decision tree" we face with climate change are likewise similar. Interestingly, while it is obvious that Len is an atheist, he will be left arguing FOR the Pascal wager, at least so far as climate theory is concerned. BTW Pascal's wager is often used in defense of proving a negative.

Jim, your argument would stand more weight if instead of dumping garbage on your lawn, I watered it. Since CO2 is REQUIRED by your lawn to survive, I'd be giving it something it NEEDS. You have no proof that CO2 in "excessive" amounts is harmful to plants, but I have actual proof that high CO2 levels are GOOD for plants, causing them to grow faster and healthier than otherwise. Therefore your own logic fails you.

September, 25 2008

Len Gould says

Jeff: The flaw in the "Pascals Wager" logic is that his argument needs to be extended to cover every possible god proposed in every known religion which offers an afterlife, presently and throughout history. It is obviously impossible to satisfy both the baptist god and the wahabi god and the hindu and the iroquois god etc, to their terms, though one might fool a few priests and acolytes in each for a while, as many people (including priests and acolytes) do.

Climate change is not in the same category. In this case there are definite outcomes for all choices offered, not Pascal's 50:50 chance of no outcome (eg no afterlife)

September, 25 2008

Jim Beyer says

Jeff,

Proof that higher CO2 may be good for plants does not mean that higher CO2 levels are good in general, due to it's heat absorbing capabilities. But you know that. Yet you insist on pretending you don't.

Following your comment on Pascal's Wager:

Global Warming Real Global Warming Not Real

Act as if GW Real: (Build up Nuclear) Climate Better Climate no worse

Act as if GW False: Climate Better Climate no worse (Build up Nuclear)

Hmm, I guess it doesn't work, because even if GW is false, I still think it's a better idea to build up nuclear power. If nothing else, it frees up some rail capacity that we will need as oil gets scarcer (due to less coal traffic).

September, 25 2008

Jeff Presley says

Len, um no that's not correct. What Pascal's wager teaches is the law of large numbers. Even if the odds were vanishingly small of there being a god (him, her, it, it doesn't matter), our puny lifespan would still pale into insignificance against the time span of infinity. Likewise if I gave you odds of .00000000000000001% that the IPCC was right, you'd jump like a Junebug on it and say, "See! Even if the odds are vanishingly small, against the danger we face the expense is worth it", or somesuch claptrap. Therefore like the chess player I am, I can see several moves ahead in your logic, therefore I placed you in the Pascal camp before you even knew there was one.

Jim, You are heading directly where I want you. Like Ferdinand Banks, you are leaning towards the more intellectually honest position of caring not at all WHETHER AGW is real, as long as it encourages greater deployment of nuclear. I too want more nuclear, but I want it for the right reasons, and in the right way. The title of this article concerned Environmental Compatibility [of] Clean Coal Technology. The acolytes would state there is no such thing, even their odds were vanishingly small of being correct, while the more sanguine among us would point out the flaws that we have such as the recognition that it won't matter what heroic measures are taken on THIS side of the pond as long as disastrous implementations are taking place in Chindia. And then of course you have the Luddites who won't even accept nuclear and push for some pie in the sky solutions that A) aren't technically feasible and B) do more harm than good, many so-called renewables solutions fall under this aegis.

September, 25 2008

Jim Beyer says

Jeff,

You aren't a chess player. You are more like the women in 'Annie Hall' who said "I finally had an orgasm, but my therapist said it was the wrong kind." You are so adamant about arguing against global warming you either don't see or don't care that the reasonable solutions to addressing it (Nuclear power plants and PHEVs) are reasonable solutions to address anyway, for different reasons (including oil depletion).

I do believe AGW is real, but I am also aware and sensitive to the costs of dealing with that. And I agree that there is more to understand, much more. But given all that, it is ridiculous to be building new coal power plants at this point. Since nuclear is at least reasonably competitive with coal, that seems like a reasonable course to pursue at this point.

PHEVs are being pursued already by the automakers, because they are finally seeing the writing on the wall concerning oil. I.e., we are not able to increase production much further. But they would like to produce more cars, hence the PHEVs.

You are correct that implementations here make little sense if China and India do nothing. No argument there. But that has nothing to do with the reality or unreality of AGW.

I obviously carry the daft notion (along with Prof. Banks) that if the ends are the same, then perhaps that could be the basis of commonality between the AGW believers and non-believers, at least until the truth can be better sorted out. But apparently that's not enough for the likes of Jeff and others. An orgasm isn't good enough; it has to be the right kind.

Hanging his pragmatic head in dispair,

Jim Beyer

September, 25 2008

Edward Reid, Jr. says

Jim,

I am not sure that the ends are the same. I am also not sure that the path to a common end does not matter.

There are two end points which seem to be important, to one degree or another, to those who comment here: energy independence and stabilizing global climate change, or at least avoiding catastrophic global warming.

Energy independence could be achieved with a combination of coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear, supplemented by renewables including geothermal, solar, wind, etc. PHEVs and perhaps eventually EVs can be part of achieving energy independence. Energy independence for the US could be achieved by the US, if it chose to do so.

Stabilizing global climate change, based on the "increasing CO2 concentrations are causing global climate change" theory, can not be achieved with coal, oil and natural gas in the absence of permanent sequestration of the CO2. Stabilizing global climate change could be achieved with a combination of nuclear and renewables, though massive reliance on solar and wind would require the availability of massive thermal and/or mechanical and/or electric energy storage facilities. Stabilizing global climate change could not be achieved by the US.

Achieving energy independence in the US is a far less costly venture than stabilizing global climate change, even if only the US cost of stabilizing global climate change is considered.

In the immortal words of my favorite American philosopher, Yogi Berra: "You've got to be careful, if you don't know where you're going, because you might end up someplace else." Or, if you prefer, from the same source: "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

Those in the US Congress who enthuse about energy independence have virtually no clue regarding what it would take to actually accomplish that goal. Those now demanding fossil free electricity in 10 years have no concept of the cost and disruption which would be involved in a virtually hopeless effort to achieve their demands. Similarly, those in the US Congress who are fervent in their desires to save the world from global climate change have demonstrated no appreciation of the impossibility of their accomplishing that desire.

The conceptual plan I shared with this group several months ago, which would achieve both US energy independence and a 95% reduction in US CO2 emissions by 2050, at a cost of ~$40 trillion, is truly "command and control on steroids", because that is the only way (in my view) that those goals could be achieved in that time frame. I would prefer we not attempt to go there.

With regard to orgasms, I like Meg Ryan's lunch table line from "When Harry met Sally": "I'll have what she's having."

Do not despair in you pragmatism, it will assist you in "keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs".

Ed

September, 25 2008

Jim Beyer says

Ed,

We will run out of natural gas and oil long before they will substantively contribute to further CO2 emissions. AGW is all about coal.

Assuming we will figure out more about AGW in the next 10 years, it seems like it would make sense to forgo further coal plant construction until this could be clarified. We could build nuclear power plants instead. I don't find this plan of action horribly debilitating to our economy.

You seem to want a final resolution, such that a final solution can be developed. Unfortunately, this is not forthcoming at the present. On the other hand, I don't think it makes sense to completely ignore the problem either. It would be wrong to build new coal plants only to have to shut them down 10 years later. As it would to adopt draconian changes that might prove to be unwarranted.

September, 25 2008

Len Gould says

Jim: "AGW is all about coal." -- Absolutely correct, as far as it goes. A scary item I noted in recent news was that US utilities are complaining that "its getting quite expensive to continue to import coal from China".

[QUOTE] Selected Chinese exports to America in 2007 with the highest percentage sales decreases from 2006 are listed below.

Coal and related fuels … US$227.8 million (down 43% from 2006) [/QUOTE]

http://import-export.suite101.com/article.cfm/us_trade_with_china_in_2007

I mean, how sick is that? US needs to get a grip on its energy policies.

September, 25 2008

Edward Reid, Jr. says

Len,

It would probably be more accurate for you to suggest that the US needs energy policies, which it appears to lack at the present time. :-)

Jim,

I have no problem with nukes now, since virtually no matter what we decide to do, they will be both useful and necessary.

I have a lot of problems with gasoline-powered vehicles, since virtually no matter what we decide to do, they will not be part of the solution. The same is true of NGVs (sorry, Boone).

I have made the point here before about concentrating on technologies which are on the path to our goal, whatever that is. Nuclear is on both paths. Geothermal, solar and wind are on both paths as well. Coal is on the energy independence path, but not on the no-CO2 emissions path, absent permanent sequestration.

Ed

September, 26 2008

Jim Beyer says

Ed,

I keep forgetting how witty and funny you are! Of course, politicians provide us endless material....

According to more conservative estimates, a PHEV that can run all-electric for 40 miles will reduce its fuel (gasoline) consumption by 75%. This presumably assumes typical driving patterns. With this kind of reduction, then almost any kind of fuel (including synthetic fuel) would suffice, as the owner could presumably afford to pay more for it.

When you consider biomethane as part of the NGV paradigm, I don't think NGV's are necessarily a bad thing. They compete against synthetics from methane like biobutanol. It's a question of do you pay for the refining (and the infrastructure) or do you pay for the tank in the vehicle. I'm leaning toward the latter; gas stations owned by oil companies are loathe to sell products they don't produce.

September, 26 2008

Jerry Toman says

Every time I drop by here you folks are having the same endless arguments.

There is a technology available that's cheaper, both in terms of investment and operation, in addition to being far cleaner, having a low-moderate (depending on design objective) land area requirement, and damages the aesthetics less than currently available options, renewable or otherwise.

That would be the Atmospheric Vortex Engine that could convert the "waste heat" from any of your proposed plants into electricity. This includes nuclear, coal, and gas fired plants as well as solar, geothermal or any other "warm-water" facilites.

Some of the electricity could be used to separate air for IGCC projects that also include F-T for liquids and CO2 sequestration. In other cases the electricity could be used as refrigeration for biofuel based plants (to minimize evaporation).

The development costs are minimal, consisting only of a mostly vacant, (except for turbines & exchangers) surface (spin) structure having airfoils, from 100-200 m across and 50-100 m high, for up to 200 MW. This power would be produced at times of peak demand, and could even be put in tandem/series with NG fired, peaking units.

To envision how this would work, go to the Enviromission website and click Project/Technology. From the animation, imagine replacing the huge (500-1000 m) central tower with our vortex device, as well as reducing the "skirt" radius by about 90%. The turbines could be in approximately the same location, or even be at multiple levels.

A larger "skirt" could be employed when heat storage or agricultural objectives are desired. At the periphery, these tend to cause condensation at night, to minimize water requirements.

Time is passing and the planet is heating up as we put more CO2 into the air (sorry, Jeff). Isn't there any Utility Co. CEO out there who is able to "think outside the box"? You could become the hero of the entire planet if you would fund the development of this, which is small compared to anything with "coal" or "nuclear" in its name. "The Science is Solid" (Prof. Nilton Renno in NYT Freakonomics article.)

September, 26 2008

Jeff Presley says

Pragmatic Jim,

Can't always tell if you're trying to be funny or snide. As to orgasms, right wrong or indifferent women's beat men's hands down.

As to the topic at hand, I've stated my case as clearly as possible. Frankly, if someone wanted to prove CO2 as a greenhouse effect, they could do it in a terrarium. Unfortunately, no one is going to give them $5Billion to 'study' that the way climate science is receiving $5B today JUST in the United States (when we're not busy bailing out banks that is). Of course Len and others think the money for everything is unlimited in the good ole US of A, but unfortunately if we keep printing it like we are, we'll be like the Weimar Republik in no time.

A complete layman's lack of understanding of the energy dropping off as the square of the distance accounts for this nonsense of greater CO2 concentrations auto magically "creating" greater heat planet wide. Other little vagaries, like CO2 concentrations LAGGING historic temperature raising puts a funny clown's face on the "forcing" argument, but let's all run to the computers, we can ALWAYS make THEM say what we want them to, although it is a tad embarrassing for the cause when software engineers recant and fess up, see links above.

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