Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Combustion is Huge Problem for Society

by Duane Nichols on November 20, 2015

Job loss concerns seem real, but Congressman McKinley’s facts aren’t

Letter to the Editor by Larry Harris, Morgantown Dominion Post, Opinion Page, November 19, 2015

<<< Rep. McKinley’s estimate of the coal emissions compared to deforestation is inaccurate >>>

Rep. David McKinley recently made comments minimizing the effect of burning coal on the environment (DP-Friday), specifically on global warming. He said that “96 percent of carbon dioxide emissions are natural; only 4 percent are man-made, and a third of that is from rain forest deforestation. U.S. coal emissions make up only 0.2 percent of the world’s total.” He did not cite any source for these figures.

I did some fact checking and went to the EPA web site, which contains information about local and worldwide carbon emissions:

While true that human sources of carbon emissions are small compared to natural sources, it is the cumulative effect of human carbon emissions that has upset the world’s carbon balance. Data show increasing carbon emissions since the industrial revolution began, and before that time the world was in carbon balance. Year after year of increased burning of coal and natural gas upsets this balance more and more.

McKinley’s estimate of the coal emissions compared to deforestation is inaccurate. The EPA site has global greenhouse gas emissions by source and indicates 17 percent is due to deforestation and agriculture while 57 percent comes from burning fossil fuels.

Until recently, the majority of U.S. electricity came from burning coal, indicating a much greater contribution than McKinley states. The site also indicates that the U.S. contributes 19 percent of the global carbon dioxide as a result of fossil fuel combustion.

I understand the concern of the congressman about loss of jobs, but citing inaccurate data to give the impression that coal burning is not so bad for the environment is wrong.

I hope he and his colleagues will concentrate on diversification of job opportunities as the worldwide use of coal is replaced by non-fossil fuel technologies. Many energy companies are doing just that and looking to develop cleaner methods of producing the energy we need.

>>> Larry Harris of Morgantown is a member of the Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition and serves on the WV Governor’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Public Advisory Council.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Boston Herald November 22, 2015 at 7:20 pm

MIT students, faculty marking end of lower CO2 levels

From the Associated Press, Boston Herald, November 21, 2015

BOSTON — MIT students, faculty members and community leaders are planning to hold a vigil to mark what they say is an unwelcome milestone in humanity’s battle against climate change.

Organizers of Monday’s event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say the vigil is meant to mark the final days that anyone now alive will ever again experience atmospheric carbon dioxide levels less than 400 parts per million.

The threshold of 350 parts per million of CO2 is considered by many scientists as the safe upper limit to avoid dangerous climate change.

The “Farewell 400″ is part of a larger effort by students and activists to pressure MIT to divest its multi-billion dollar endowment from fossil fuels.

The university last month announced a five-year plan to combat climate change but said it would not divest.



Jim Kotcon November 30, 2015 at 11:22 am

People of West Virginia simply getting wrong information

Letter to editor: Morgantown Dominion Post, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015

Is the congressman so out of touch that he does not even read the federal budget proposals? Or that he no longer recognizes how many abandoned mines and how much acid mine drainage there is to clean up right here in West Virginia?

Those funds would hire a lot of workers who need work, and help transition our economy by cleaning up polluted sites and returning them to productive uses. For our congressman (Rep. David McKinley) to ignore such a proposal to help our own district is incomprehensible, and just bad politics.

But an even bigger whopper was, when asked about climate change, he said that global temperatures stopped rising 18 years ago. This is a frequent claim from those denying climate change, but is absolutely false on several levels.

First the claim is based on the unusually warm temperatures associated with the record El Nino event in 1998. Starting from that peak, annual global temperature increases do appear to have slowed, which is why the claim of “18 years ago” is used.

But if you look at trends starting 17 years ago, or 19 years ago, or 20, or 30 or 40, the temperature trends are consistently upward. The congressman claims to rely on science, but his cherry-picking the data is simply wrong.

And even more wrong is that, even if one begins with the record temperatures in 1998, new records were set in 2005, only to be broken in 2010, and that record was broken in 2014, and the planet will likely set a new record in 2015. Those are not the results one would expect if temperatures really had stopped rising in 1998.

The congressman is simply wrong. This has been explained to him repeatedly, and yet he continues to disseminate ianncurate information to the public. This starts to look deliberate.

Finally, the format of the so-called “town hall” did not allow for any reasoned discussion. Because only he was allowed to speak, the audience never had a chance to challenge his misstatements. Energy issues are important to our state, and regardless of which side you are on, we deserve better.

Jim Kotcon, Morgantown


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