Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Recently Al Gore accused some of the world's largest energy companies, including ExxonMobil, of funding research to dispute "scientific consensus" on global warming in a campaign to mislead the public. Let's have at it one more time...

Global warming is an accepted natural phenomenon and evidence strongly suggests it is cyclical. The sun's activity is another factor. Man's contribution to the phenomenon has become a factor since the dawn of the industrial age 150 years ago. The size and impact of the contribution remain in dispute. Further research, whether paid for by companies like ExxonMobil or taxpayer funds, may give us an answer. Meanwhile, we need to do what we can to reduce man's contribution. The effort needs to engage every nation on Earth, not just the USA if it's to be effective.

CO2 is believed to be a major component of the gasses that create a "greenhoue effect" in Earth's atmosphere. Total elimination of CO2 emissions is not possible but we can control it to a degree with advancing technology. Sequestration of CO2 at large power plants, chemical plants and oil refineries will soon be possible but at a sizeable investment unlikely to be made without significant tax and other incentives. But such facilities aren't the only source of CO2. All living oxygen-breathing creatures exhale CO2. Animal and human feces emit CO2. I know of no practical way of reducing such emissions.

Environmental activists continue to push for greater use of ethanol as a component in motor gasoline but fail to mention its limitations. First and foremost, ethanol contains significantly less energy (i.e., Btu content) than conventional gasoline which results in reduced fuel economy. It requires storage and transportation systems separate from conventional gasoline. Producing ethanol from food crops such as corn ratchets up the market price of such crops when sold as food. This can have a troublesome impact on the economies of third world countries where food is more important to the population than greenhouse gasses.

As noted in previous posts on this site, wind power, solar power, and geothermal power are helpful substitutes for fossil fuel power generation where conditions are conducive for their use. We need to move to more nuclear power facilities to replace those plants that use fossil fuel. I know environmental activists will fight such a move but they are whistling in the dark if they think we can do without it. Meanwhile, research will continue unabated to find whatever other energy sources there may be to displace fossil fuels.


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