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Coal-as-Usual Could Push World 400 Percent Past Warming Threshold



The photo accompanying the article shows just how much damaging output the coal-fired plants exude...and, compared to the recent air quality alerts in India and China (orange...stay indoors unless absolutely necessary to go outside), the air quality in the photo is "moderate." Photos of the air quality in Mumbai and Beijing were frightening: totally obscured the sun, dense fog-like, and yellow-gray just like the air quality depicted in the sci-fi movie, "Soylent Green." Yet the world leaders persist in making concessions to the polluters placing their citizens' health and well-being at risk...money talks.


Too big to fail? Too big to jail! No I am not talking about the banksters or other evil corporations. I'm talking about nations like the US, China, India, and Russia. They are too big to have decisions made for them by one or a handful of people (who are btw owned by the affort mentioned banks and corps).



The US is pretty much phasing out coal so I don't know why you mentioned it. The countries with proposals to build more than 5GW of coal power capacity according to the report are China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, the Philippines, and Turkey. Also, the 28 EU countries combined. No Russia either on the list. Countries are sovereign so they make their own decisions. What we need is a global emissions cap that every country adheres to but it appears there will be none as we go toward 2C. The data comes from 2013 so it is possible that many of the plants have already been cancelled. Global emissions from energy rose less than 1% last year and even China had an increase of less than 1%. On the other hand, India had an increase of almost 8%. If we need to focus our attention somewhere it should be on India which plans to triple its use of coal.


Yes- with this increase in greenhouse gases acoming, the island nations have much to fear as sea levels will rise, yes the Island Nations of Boston, Miami, NYC, New Orleans have much to fear.


Sort of nonsense, really. The 400 ppm cap has been burst. Trees continue to be murdered, and the amount of carbon in global biomass reduced. Fracing produced methane makes probably more GHG emissions than coal. The amount of methane farting cows continues to increase. And there is enough methane in the rapidly melting biomass to choke a horse. It remains comforting to think that we will not cross the 400 "red line". However that number is just hind sight now. And every one of those 300 million kids in the Middle East wants a black Daimler, which will get driven to Switzerland for skiing each weekend. . And we cannot make jet liners fast enough. If you check, coal production is at an all time high. And to rub it in, the US auto production is about to break the record—the most cars ever made in one year. So, we are adding 17 million new CO2 generation machines, just here in the US. Almost all the old ones continue to belch. And as you walk through the cities, it is amusing to look at all the propane driven heaters pouring out CO2 so we can drink our Starbuck coffee in the snow. The 400 ppm thing is a sorry joke.


It would be smarter to figure out what we need to do about reducing the adverse effects of a global rise in temperature since it is increasingly likely that is going to be our fate. This is something we can without having to get everyone to agree upon reducing carbon emissions to some supposedly "safe" level. Some of the work needed likely will look a lot like what we'd need to do colonizing other planets. So its time to involve those who do think about such things...




One can dream that Star Trek would be true. Turns out, another earth-like planet is most unlikely. Obviously the one we live on is the Blue Planet, with 75% of the surface covered in water. I recently looked at a whale skeleton. Amused to see that the flippers, front and back, have five "finger, toe" bones, just like us. And it is fun to consider that each human contains about 60%, by weight water. So, a 200 lb person has 120 lbs of water. Indeed, we are aquatic beings encased in a polymer wrap known as skin. So, look for a place that is very wet. But then you need oxygen, but not too much. And you need a very narrow band of temperature. No one seems bothered by the fact that just a temperature of 2 degrees is deadly. The surface of the moon has a temperature of about 90 C when the sun is up, and about - 90 C during the night. But the real issue is the radiation the sun pumps out. We are protected by the shield, that magnetic field of the earth that diverts the charged particles, just like in Star Trek. Without that protection, all carbon-carbon bonds, like in polyethylene, will be broken. Indeed a planet with no magnetic field will have no atmosphere either—the radiation knocks off an electron, and then the charged nitrogen or oxygen stream off in the flux of the charged particles. . I would not spend too much money on space travel research. Extinct comes to mind, does it not?


Not sure where you got your information (no citations) - where is the citation that global emissions rose less than one percent ast year, for example.. But here an article that give quite a bit ot data you should check out.

The US is pretty much phasing out coal? Is that what Duke Energy told you? Check how they generate electricity and what there plans are for the future - still largely based on burning coal.

Also, you talk like this is year zero. We'll just start from scratch from this point in determining who the culprits are, ignoring all the greenhouse gases pumped into the environment over the last 200+ years of the industrial revolution. As the article I cited indicates, the UK is number one and the US number two. I included big nations with big populations in my list (obviously not exhaustive, but we can add the UK.

Agreed about India building a whole bunch of new coal fired power plants is really counterproductive, though it has a huge population and its historical and per capita contribution to CO2 emissions are low in comparison to the US and western Europe (especially the UK and Germany). But please do not fall into the camp that the US is sitting pretty and it is only up to other nations to change.



So true. Space travel, inhabiting other planets, darting thru the worm holes and traveling at warp speed are Hollywood fantasies. What is not fantasy are gene splicing and cloning technology. I'm afraid evolution will need to be turbocharged. A radical solution, but, at this point, we have driven off the cliff and are trying to soften the landing on the rocks below.


Virtually all of the visible stuff coming out of the smokestacks and all of the stuff coming out of the cooling towers in the picture is just water vapor clouds - the picture was taken on a day when the temperature from surface to the low cloudbase was barely below dewpoint.

But yes, if CO2 was visible, that is what its ton-every-3-seconds CO2 emissions might look like.

Edit...And of course there are emissions of mercury which contaminate virtually every fish in the world. Radionuclides too (much more than a nuclear power plant emits into the atmosphere).

And that plant in the picture, in Germany, is still running because Germany shut down all their nuclear plants.


I agree. Even so, the issue is the vapor pressure of water and the variation of that with temperature. Humans are cooled pretty much by the evaporation of water. Just like trees. (The photons doing photosynthesis has considerable energy, and the catalytic reactors for CO2 removal, knows as leaves, require water evaporation as well for maintaining temperature. As it gets hotter, the whole thermal management plan falls apart. At around 130 F, humans cannot evaporate enough water to sustain life. If you do get into different chemistry, say sulfur or silicone, some other form of life might be doable. But we would not recognize it as life probably. All chemical engineering seems to turn out to be a problem in heat flow, as I have found many times. Biochemical engineering is the same game.


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Actually carbon emissions didn't rise at all in 2014. Zero increase. First time that has happened with an increase in global economic growth. Below is a link. I don't know how Duke Energy is going to be burning a lot of coal after the EPA regulations on carbon dioxide emissions take effect. There is nothing we can do about historic emissions (except try to remove them from the atmosphere), we can only do something about future emissions (although countries with the most historic emissions should make the most reductions in future emissions). That is why it is necessary to focus more on India. I can empathize with their concerns about lifting people out of poverty but nature doesn't care at all. There has to be some reckoning with the realities of the physical world. India seems to be calling for the developed countries to reduce their standard of living to allow India to have more emissions but we all know (or should know) that it is politically impossible. Right now I do not see a resolution of the problem with regard to India.



Yes, there's a great article in the new (Nov.2015) Wired Magazine. The decisions India makes in regards to coal vs. renewables could tip the entire outcome one way or the other. Apparently they have a HUGE coal field (that has been on fire for years, no less). If they develop all that, it's over. China is already making a lot of progress towards changing to renewables. It looks like it may come down to India.http://www.wired.com/2015/11/climate-change-in-india/


There is, of course, a third option India (and China) are keenly researching, since both have abundant supplies of thorium.


While not worthwhile as a source of energy of itself, this could still be useful for cooling warm latitude oceanic reactors. For floating reactors, the energy it would take to pull up the denser cold water would be recovered when the colder water cools the working fluid or gas on the return leg of the generation loop, and the coolant water outflow would be closer to the ambient temperature at the surface. And of course, a deep water reactor would be able to gain from the colder water at no energy expenditure, and the outflow water would create its own plume.


I can also add, and where is all the coal and other fossil fuels coming from to fuel India and China? Places like the US, Russia, and Canada. You've heard of the coal trains and pipelines. Despite its solar reputation, Germany continues to mine its dirty coal at an alarming rate. The US wants to be the big exporter now too. You have to look at not only who burns it but where it is extracted from.


Good that emissions did not grow globally in 2014, but they are still way too hugh and need to come down. The key will be to find a just and equitable way to reduce them. That means accounting for historical contributions to the problem and permitting poor nations and poor people within nations the opportunity to be lifted out of poverty. The big contributorrs to global warming,/climate change, resource depletion, and environmental destruction will need to contribute the most in terms of cuts and financial payments to achieve this, likely meaning significant changes in lifestyles in places l8ke the US.