Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:10

Global Warming -- Editorial

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Global Warming -- Editorial

Angus MacDonald

There are two theories of global warming. One study, based on sediment deposits, going back thousands of years, has located marine fossils in Vermont, Quebec, Ontario, and Michigan. The oceans covered much of what we know as farmland. This warm period was followed by an ice age. The 10th to the 14th centuries have been called the Medieval Warm Period, followed by the little ice age of the 13th and 14th to the midst of the 19th century. If I understand correctly the literature, we are in a warm age compared with thousands of years ago. Stillwater, Minnesota, was once covered by ice a mile thick. There is a rhythm to climate changes we do not understand and to which we must adjust. Vermont and New York City may one day be submerged. If this should happen, there is nothing we can do but adjust. If this event occurs, it will not be for thousands of years.

The other theory of global warming is supposed to be scientific, though I can find only dogma in the literature I have. The assertion is made that the temperature near earth increased by about one degree Fahrenheit during the 20th century and may increase by 2 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 A.D. With no scientific knowledge, an increase of one degree does not impress me as significant, though an increase of ten degrees may have significance. A concession is made that an increase in global warming may be the result of solar radiation because of an increase in sunspot activity, but "the scientific consensus identified elevated levels of greenhouse gases due to human activity as the main influence." The fuels used by man that are said to increase global warming are petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Natural gas is a derivative of the search for petroleum and coal. Though it is an important energy source, it can be dismissed if we turn away from petroleum and coal.

We have a lot of coal, enough for another 285 years at the present rate of use, supplying 22 percent of our energy needs, the main use being for electricity. Surface mining provides 63 percent of our coal, and shaft mining provides 32 percent, going down about 1,000 feet. This is done by what is called "room and pillar mining," and is the type of mining that killed several miners this year when the walls collapsed. It is offensive that we have men digging in the dirt, a thousand feet below the surface, where we cannot locate them in need or save them when in danger. There must be a better way to produce energy.

France could lead us to a better way: electricity by nuclear power. In 1974, after the first oil shock, and with few natural resources, the French government decided to go nuclear. They now have a substantial level of energy independence, the lowest electricity cost in Europe, and a extremely low level of carbon emissions. The back-end cost of waste disposal is around 5 percent. France is the world's largest exporter of electricity, it being their forth-largest domestic export item, sending electrical power to Italy and the United Kingdom. An additional factor is that high temperature reactors can produce hydrogen which could supply hydrogen-powered automobiles and trucks.

The United States has a large supply of shale oil that is available for use at the current price of pumped oil, but it may never be used. We could wean ourselves from oil needed for automobiles in as little as ten years if we continue present efforts to produce hydrogen-powered cars. All carmakers are in the race to produce a car with clean fuel and no harmful emissions.

A racecar by BMW that uses 286 horsepower and goes from zero to 60 mph in less than six seconds, runs on an ordinary combustion engine that can use either hydrogen or gasoline. We could go from one fuel to another with the switch of a button. The car has under-the-hood fuel cells that refine the hydrogen for use. Until more supplies of hydrogen are available, we could run around town on hydrogen and use gasoline only for long trips where hydrogen stations are rare.

Germany is establishing filling stations near hydrogen generators. Shell Oil and General Motors are constructing hydrogen filling stations in Washington D.C., and Governor Schwarzenegger has called for a hydrogen highway with 150 fuel stops at regular intervals.

All of this sounds wonderful. Clean energy from water! Even it if takes decades to develop infrastructure, the possibility gives us hope. The petroleum economy has been with us for a little more than one hundred years, and has been a great blessing, and it will take time and money to make a successful transition. If we can be successful, we shall take care of the pollution problem. We may still have global warming, but it will not be from any human misuse of the environment. *

"The prevailing spirit of the present age seems to be the spirit of skepticism and captiousness, of suspicion and distrust in private judgment; a dislike of all established forms, merely because they are established, and of old paths, because they are old." --Samuel Johnson

The quotes following each article have been gathered by The Federalist Patriot at: http://FederalistPatriot.US/services.asp.

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