Al Gore and his army of alarmist acolytes have a big PR problem – world temperatures peaked in 1998 and have not been exceeded since (see chart here). I find it curious that we never hear anything about this key fact in the mainstream media – a media so consumed by global warming hysteria it is impossible to watch TV or read any newspaper without getting barraged by false claims of the coming doom. If you look at the chart the trend is definitely cooler not warmer. In fact recent research shows we may well be entering a cooling period extending 2 or 3 decades into the future.
The 2007 temperature was widely reported as being the 8th warmest. Another way to report it would be to call it the coldest year since 2000. Why do you think the media chose the first way to report it rather than the second way?
Since the high temperature year of 1998 there have been over 1,000 co2 belching coal fired power plants built mainly in China and India. In addition about 100 million more cars were on the road in 2007 than in 1998, virtually every one with the hated, co2 spewing internal combustion engine. All that increase in co2 and no increase in temperature. Obviously increased co2 emissions are not warming the earth so why worry about generating more of it?
The reason we should use coal is there is 150 years of the stuff available worldwide. It’s cheap, we know how to engineer low-cost efficient plants to use it and it’s available on every continent. And the US has the largest coal reserves in the world. We are the Saudi Arabia of the coal world with a 250 year supply and currently export 60 million tons a year. That’s equivalent to exporting 300 million barrels of oil. We use more than 1 billion tons domestically or one-half trillion dollars of oil equivalent. We cannot be energy independent any time soon without using a lot more coal. More coal usage would also mean more high paying jobs spread out over the 27 states that currently mine coal.
As for air pollution from coal those risks are greatly exaggerated by the environmental lobby and the media. For example, according to the EPA, mercury emissions from US power plants represent less than 1% of the world total and under current legislation will soon be 90% less than that. In fact air quality in American cities is better now than it has been in the last 150 years. Those of us who remember when most homes were heated by coal without pollution controls can attest to that fact.
We can use coal to make oil too. The Germans did it 70 years ago to power their tanks and airplanes producing 125,000 barrels a day from coal in 1944. In that same year Congress passed the Synthetic Liquid Fuels Act which funded successful syn-fuel plants in North Dakota, W. Virginia and Louisiana until 1953 when it was dropped because oil was plentiful and cheap. With advances in technology it would be even more feasible today because oil is neither plentiful nor cheap and every gallon of oil from coal is one less gallon we have to import from the Middle East and Venezuela. In fact South Africa supplies 50% of its petroleum needs with coal at an effective price of $1.35/gal and is negotiating with China to build 27 coal-to-liquid-fuel plants.
And going forward to 2012, over 1,000 more coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be built worldwide. China will be building over 500, India over 300 and the US a measly 72. Even Kyoto signers Japan and Germany will be building more coal-fired plants. Also the number of vehicles in use worldwide will increase by 300 million by 2012, mainly in China, India, Brazil and Russia. This implies that though they give lip service to the CO2 Global Warming Hypothesis, most world political leaders don’t really believe it. They are just lip-syncing what the elitist media and environmental groups are telling them.
And apparently US citizens don’t believe it either. Here are the results of an April 2008 poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post where they asked “What is the most important issue in the upcoming elections”. The economy ranked #1 with 41%, Iraq #2 with 18%, Health Care #3 with 7%, Terrorism/National Security #4 with 5%, Immigration and Ethics followed with 4%, Education and Morals with 2%, Environment and Global Warming with 0%. Once again, Joe Six-pack proves to be much smarter than elitists give him credit for.
It is obvious that China, India and other coal-using countries are not about to sign any Kyoto-type agreement restricting co2 emissions, which proves their politicians are smarter than ours. If Europe and North America unilaterally enact carbon taxes when our competitors don’t then this self-inflicted economic wound will mean the end of our economic dominance and the loss of millions of jobs. Of course, this is what the leftist environmentalists have been pursuing for several decades. But they should be careful what they wish for. An unbridled China will likely produce Imperialism far worse than anything even the most radical leftist imagined of the US. Remember China has a 3000-year history of Imperialism – they know how to do it right.
There is nothing “greener” than co2. It is a proven scientific fact that co2 acts as a fertilizer and enhances all biomass growth. Nurseries pump large amounts of co2 into their greenhouses, typically to about twice what is in the atmosphere, to enhance the growth of high-margin plants. They do this because co2 improves the growth rate and size and decreases water usage. Experts estimate green plant growth has increased by at least 15% since the industrial revolution started putting co2 into the atmosphere and since we are going to have 9 billion people to feed by 2050 lets use the most non-toxic, cleanest and cheapest fertilizer in the world, co2, to increase the growth rate and viability of food crops worldwide. This will help the world’s poor more than any foreign policy giveaway we could devise.
Dr. John Christy, a climatologist and UN scientist (see bio here), was a missionary in Africa before he became a scientist. Here is his take on the value of coal power in Africa:
“I always thought that if each home could be fitted with an electric light bulb and a microwave oven electrified by a coal-fired power plant, several good things would happen. The women would be freed to work on other more productive pursuits, the indoor air would be much cleaner so health would improve, food could be prepared more safely, there would be light for reading and advancement, information through television or radio would be received, and the forest with its beautiful ecosystem could be saved. Access to inexpensive, efficient energy would enhance the lives of the Africans while at the same time enhance the environment.”
Africa has more coal reserves than Europe, about a 100-year supply and actually exports more coal than the US. But if it’s up to Al Gore and the Global-Warming Industrial Complex, most Africans will continue burning cow dung for heat and light for the rest of the century.
So lets produce more energy with coal and by doing so make the earth greener and help the poorest of the poor. What could be better than that?
Bill Zettler is the owner of a computer-consulting firm in Illinois. Click here to read more by Mr. Zettler.