25 April 2009

Late Week Climate News and a Reminder About Coal

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Andy Revkin at the New York Times has written a blockbuster. It seems that the Global Climate Coalition, which waged an expensive PR campaign to raise doubt about the Science of Climate Change, decided to ignore their own in-house Scientists. Well, they had to you see. The Scientists told them that the evidence was overwhelming. So who was the Global Climate Coalition?? Read Revkin.

The Scientist quoted in the Revkin piece, Dr. Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore Labs. was mentioned in my previous post ( I met him last weekend at a Climate Seminar in Chicago). If you have not seen the interview I linked, it’s well worth your time. My next post will be about Dr. Santer’s work, which is VERY fascinating.

Is America's Science Reputation Fading??

Is America's Science Reputation Fading??

I rarely write here about what we should do to fix the mess we have gotten ourselves into. My opinion on policy is no better than anyone elses, and likely much poorer. Explaining the Science, and trying to put it into context is the purpose of this journal.  It’s what I truly enjoy doing. So, if there is misinformation on Science, I will tackle it, but when it comes to policy, I will give pointers to interesting and though provoking articles but generally stick to what I know! An educated public will usually make the right decision.

The problem here, is that the USA is not even in the top 20 countries world wide in Science and Math. Many U.S. graduate schools students are from other countries. They will return there when finished. Make no mistake about it, this is a catastrophe in the making. What’s causing it? Could it be we have too much emphasis on Sport, and not enough on academics? Who gets their name in the paper more often? The kid who gets straight A’s or the kid who scored three touch downs in the last football match?

I was just asked to be on the board of our local Science Museum, and I jumped at it. Science education starts with the young. Somehow some way we are going to get funding for NOAA’s Science on a Sphere. It’s fabulous!

Science on a Sphere- An amazing educational tool. Developed by NOAA.

Science on a Sphere- An amazing educational tool. Developed by NOAA. Click the globe.

That said, there is another good article in the NYT about how policy changes could make a difference in short order. Give it a read. All I will say about this is that there is no such thing as “Clean Coal”. Green Coal doesn’t exist either. When you hear stories about carbon capture, you should realize that this technology is mostly untried, and as of now, it makes coal as expensive as wind and solar, while still putting a considerable amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

It’s hard to find any energy experts that will tell you that coal has much of a future as an acceptable fuel. Natural gas is a fossil fuel as well, but it is not nearly as bad as coal. When it comes to Climate Change, coal is as black as it gets. Could there be a way to make it acceptable? Possibly. Doesn’t look good though. NASA Climate Scientist James Hanson put it very succinctly when he said the best place for Coal, is in the ground.

If you are a mining executive or a power utility, you likely do not care for that opinion. I’m reminded of Upton Sinclair’s famous quote: “It’s very hard to convince someone of anything, if their paycheck depends on it not being true”. I may have not gotten it exact, but that’s the gist of it.

So repeat after me:

No matter what slick piece of persuasion you see on TV.

Could this be the most disastrous PR Spot of all time? It get's my vote!

Could this be the most disastrous PR Spot of all time? It get's my vote!

A warm sunny weekend on tap here in the Southeast corner of the United States. Here’s hoping for sunshine where you are! (The BBC says the hope of sun is thin for those of you on the South Coast of England…sorry mates!)

You can always stay inside and sing Frosty the Coal Man.