“I shall call it,” pronounces David Roberts, “the Syllogism of Doom (try to imagine ominous music, heavy on timpani),” which goes:
1. If we (that is, humanity) increase our use of coal, the atmosphere will likely tip over into irreversible, catastrophic warming.
2. We are going to increase our use of coal.
3. The atmosphere will likely tip over into irreversible, catastrophic warming.
Which pretty much sums it up. [dum dum duuum]
However, in commenting upon a great op-ed by Andrew Revkin in the New York Times, Roberts forgot the corollary, i.e., the collapse will happen after I’m dead, so why not make a killing now (cue Darth Vader breathing).
Those that continue to deny the risk to the Planet of anthropogenic emissions, also recognize that it would be foolish to invest capital in a project that would loose money because of implementation of a pollution tax.
Roberts observes that “Refuting No. 2 seems … daunting. It’s an enormously complex issue, with thorny economic, political, moral, and social complexities.” You bet your coal scuttle, boopsie. Faced with the threat of more pollution from using coal, a healthier choice would seem to be to find a way to lessen the incentive to make more dirty money.
The idea that we can just invent a new widget, stick it on coal plants, and break the if-then connection between coal and climate destruction is immensely appealing. It flatters our self-image as a resourceful country that can innovate its way out of any jam. It’s a neat, clean solution that requires no extraordinary political effort or substantial reordering of our markets or way of life.
And, speaking of technology as a favorite answer to every problem, the amazingdrx has a biotechnological solution: Convert the dirty coal to clean natural gas under ground with these carefully designed bacteria.
Use the natural gas in distributed solid oxide fuel cell/turbine generators (twice the efficiency of coal power plants) with co-generation heat used as well. An ultimately coal backed up system to insure the grid against renewable energy variability and storms.
Leave the coal where it’s at, extract clean natural gas. And, add bio-gas from the waste stream into the mix.
Also a smart grid would allow power to be shut down in emergencies to selective devices connected to the grid anywhere. Your lights and essentials would stay on in your home, instead of the whole grid blacking out from overload.
Dr. James Hansen continues to repeat his proposal for a moratorium on the building of more coal-fired power plants in the United States. Is there a way to compromise with the EFC (Evil Forces of Coal)?
Gristmill commentator trock is more pragmatic: “We have to do it the politically possible way. Not the way we would like to do it. Not the best way to do it. But, the political way to do it.”
If the coal industry cannot sell its coal it will not politically allow us to change over our economy to a non-carbon energy world. We just don’t have the political will for that. The coal industry is too big of an obstacle.
Having to build CCS plants that use 25 to 40 percent more coal to power the CCS part of the plant can be a good things because it means we have to built fewer of these plants for the political cover.