Thursday, December 18, 2008

From Wired: Oil Is Not the Climate Change Culprit — It's All About Coal

Oil Is Not the Climate Change Culprit — It's All About Coal

Well that doesn't sound good for coal or does it. Read all the way down to the bottom of the article and you find this gem:

The real global warming culprit — as James Hansen and his colleagues at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies have long argued — is burning coal to generate electricity.

"Oil and gas by themselves don't have enough carbon to keep us in the dangerous zone [of global warming] for very long," said Pushker Kharecha, a scientist and colleague of Hansen at NASA GISS.

While both Kharecha and Caldeira stopped short of saying that the world's oil usage didn't matter, Caldeira seemed to capture their joint sentiment when he called the combustion of oil a "second-order effect."

Liquid fuels are so relatively insignificant that no matter what, nothing we put in our cars is likely to change the basic story of climate change. Even if oil ran out tomorrow and humans began converting coal in its solid form to a liquid you could put in a car — a worst-case scenario for environmentalists — the global warming contribution of that fuel is almost negligible.


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