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  1. Standard member Scriabin
    Done Asking
    20 Apr '09 18:33 / 1 edit
    I do not have the answer to this one. The question on which I'd like to invite opinions is whether the US Gov should spend money in support of developing "clean coal." Some say yes, like the Administration, and some say no, like environmental groups.

    Here's what I do know: Coal's boosters and its critics are vying to shape public perception about the fuel. For coal, winning the battle could mean securing billions of dollars for years to come. Coal companies want federal money for research on removing and sequestering carbon emissions and to preserve their position as dominant players in the United States' energy supply. Meanwhile, environmentalists are hungry to minimize the role of polluting fossil fuels and capture federal money for wind, solar, other renewable power sources and conservation efforts.

    To what extent is this just a public relations battle? I've read in the trade press the following:

    quote:
    >>At the heart of the battle are the phrases "clean coal" and "clean coal technology" that linguists find particularly potent.

    >>"The image is 'You can wash it, you can make coal clean,'" said George Lakoff, a University of California, Berkeley, professor of cognitive science and linguistics. "Technology is miraculous. All problems are solved by technology."

    >>Since most thought is subconscious, he said, that kind of message seeps in and affects people's attitude.

    >>Clean also means good, said Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University and author of several books, including "The Argument Culture." She said the coal fight is an example of what she writes about in that book. People get two sides of an argument and do not know which is correct, she said.>>
    End quote

    I know that some folks call the USA the "Saudi Arabia of coal." And, then, there's what President Obama said:

    >>"Clean coal technology is something that can make America energy independent," Obama, "This is America. We figured out how to put a man on the moon in 10 years. You can't tell me we can't figure out how to burn coal that we mine right here in the United States of America and make it work.">>

    So, what are the facts and is it an either or? I don't know, but I hear what sound like good arguments on both sides.
  2. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    20 Apr '09 18:49 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Scriabin
    I do not have the answer to this one. The question on which I'd like to invite opinions is whether the US Gov should spend money in support of developing "clean coal." Some say yes, like the Administration, and some say no, like environmental groups.

    Here's what I do know: Coal's boosters and its critics are vying to shape public perception about the n't know, but I hear what sound like good arguments on both sides.
    Simple. There is NO SUCH THING as "clean" coal. You can only think of it as "less dirty" coal.

    Clean implies no harm. Couldn't be any further from the truth. It just releases fewer toxic chemicals than normal coal, but WAY more than water (niagara falls, dams) solar, wind, nuclear, and natural gas) "less dirty"coal is one small step better than "regular" coal.

    The only hope for coal is carbon sequestering (piping the CO2 underground where it won't escape. CS is best suited to point source emissions. But the technology doesn't exist yet, and it hasn't been proven that a suitable underground containment system can be found/built that will keep the carbon from eventually being release (gas can easily migrate underground until it finds its way to the surface)

    If you take the environment out of the equation, then sure, it makes a lot of sense for americans to burn their own coal. It's cheap to produce electricty and the coal industry will make a dumpload of money.

    But at what environmental cost? The easiest thing to do is to reduce the DEMAND for electricty. Americans waste so much electrictiy it's insane. Your per capita usage is at the highest levels in the world.

    It's a classic case of NEED vs WANT. You don't need all that electrical power. You just want it. People and businesses refuse to change their behaviour because your power rates are amongst the lowest in the world. Prices will stay low if you burn coal because burning coal is cheap compared to all other sources of electricity generation except hydro-electric. IF prices were to go up, then consumption would go down and you wouldn't need coal.

    But if you're a politician there is no way you choose higher prices over votes.

    EDIT: I found some info for those of you who won't believe anything unless some skids post it on a website.

    http://action.thisisreality.org/details
  3. 20 Apr '09 19:10 / 1 edit
    I personally don’t think it is worth doing research on “clean coal” when “clean coal” doesn’t normally mean no CO2 (unless you are talking about carbon burial?) and when that money, time and recourses used in that research in “clean coal” could be better spent on research into renewable energy and when we are going to eventually be forced to stop using coal and use renewables anyway to avoid the nightmare of very extreme global warming.
  4. Standard member Scriabin
    Done Asking
    20 Apr '09 19:17
    Originally posted by uzless
    Simple. There is NO SUCH THING as "clean" coal. You can only think of it as "less dirty" coal.

    Clean implies no harm. Couldn't be any further from the truth. It just releases fewer toxic chemicals than normal coal, but WAY more than water (niagara falls, dams) solar, wind, nuclear, and natural gas) "less dirty"coal is one small step better than "reg ...[text shortened]... s some skids post it on a website.

    http://action.thisisreality.org/details
    reality.org is one of the players on the side against coal.

    remember, Obama didn't say we HAD the ability to make coal clean.

    He said he wanted to fund research into developing the technology that would allow us to use our coal reserves without excessive emissions of carbon dioxide as well as a variety of other substances that go to make up smog -- sulfur and nitrous oxide, for example. Carbon monoxide is another big part of power plant emissions.

    I don't think the problem is at all simple, or it wouldn't be in play.

    coal is dirty in so many ways -- the challenge would be to treat coal in a way that allows combustion without allowing all the various things in coal that get emitted when it is burned to enter the environment and cause problems.

    did I mention solid particles, or particulate matter? no, I don't think I did. the soot from coal can be exceedingly fine particles -- and they have been proven to cause asthma, other lung diseases, even cancer.

    There are existing legal standards that limit the emissions from coal combustion, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen in its various forms, carbon monoxide, and soot. Thus far, no standards applicable to carbon dioxide.

    There is technology deemed "Best Available" by EPA that can filter out those things for which there are emissions standards and keep these emissions below regulatory levels.

    Many believe, however, that these standards are not stringent enough -- that power plants are not compliant enough, and that regulators like EPA are not strict enough.

    How many have heard of coal ash impoundments? Google TVA and coal ash and see what happens when one of these huge ponds full of coal ash breaks the dam and floods a residential area and a major river junction. not pretty.

    So, no, not simple ...
  5. 20 Apr '09 19:21
    Originally posted by Scriabin
    I do not have the answer to this one. The question on which I'd like to invite opinions is whether the US Gov should spend money in support of developing "clean coal." Some say yes, like the Administration, and some say no, like environmental groups.

    Here's what I do know: Coal's boosters and its critics are vying to shape public perception about the ...[text shortened]... n't know, but I hear what sound like good arguments on both sides.
    No Orientalist stories. I'm proud of you.
  6. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    20 Apr '09 19:29 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Scriabin
    reality.org is one of the players on the side against coal.

    remember, Obama didn't say we HAD the ability to make coal clean.

    He said he wanted to fund research into developing the technology that would allow us to use our coal reserves without excessive emissions of carbon dioxide as well as a variety of other substances that go to make up smog -- su loods a residential area and a major river junction. not pretty.

    So, no, not simple ...
    Um, yes it is pretty simple. "Clean coal" is a myth. It will take years and years to research, develop and study whether or not all the components would work. All of this will cost a dumpload of money.

    It's funny/sad that the coal industry is asking for taxpayer money to fund the research. These coalsuckers actually want us to fund their get rich scheme. If they believed in it, they'd pay for it themselves. Their argument goes something like this...

    "hey taxpayer, give us a couple billion and we'll give it to some consultants and they'll design a system that might not work. If it doesn't work, your money was wasted, not ours. If it works, we'll ask you for more money to build it and then ask you again to pay for it on your monthly bill so that our stockholders can reap a nice reward for paying 50 bux per share of our stock. Oh and by the way, none of this will answer the question of what do we do when the coal reserves run out eventually. Someone else will ask you for more money at that time so they can get rich too (wink)"


    As a taxpayer, I'd rather have our money go into actually solving the energy issue once and for all. Coal is not it.
  7. Standard member Scriabin
    Done Asking
    20 Apr '09 19:35
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    I personally don’t think it is worth doing research on “clean coal” when “clean coal” doesn’t normally mean no CO2 (unless you are talking about carbon burial?) and when that money, time and recourses used in that research in “clean coal” could be better spent on research into renewable energy and when we are going to eventually be forced to stop using coal and use renewables anyway to avoid the nightmare of very extreme global warming.
    but we burn a lot of coal, do we not? Apart from the CO2, are you aware of what else is released into the atmosphere from coal combustion? And you do know what percentage of our electricity is generated presently from coal without regard to CO2 whatever?

    How about acid rain, smog, soot, asthma, cancer, carbon monoxide, orange days, red days, etc. where is all that in this?

    can we afford NOT to research better ways to use the world's largest coal reserves and our own country's single largest source of fuel?

    can we do it without neglecting the truly promising and meritorious efforts to study and bring to practical use such renewable sources as we can, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and whatever.

    Why, it is thought that putting gigantic solar collectors in space can result in capturing enormous amounts of the sun's energy and then beam it directly to Earth -- what of that?

    of course, too many windmills might slow the atmosphere down, no? too many tidal generators might level the oceans out, no?
    too many solar arrays might collapse some roofs?

    personally, I'd like to invest in solar panels and wind generators for my homes -- but these kinds of power sources presently are prohibitively expensive. I'd not live to recover their cost let alone save anything I'd ever see.

    Here's an idea: what if every available appropriate square foot of roof space that could support a solar collector did so, and they all were linked up? The occupants could use what they use and, if any electricity was left over, it could be shared with the grid and help defray the costs of installation and maintenance.

    I think this is technically not much of a reach -- but economically it is a nightmare and politically even worse.

    simple? no, it is surely not simple.
  8. Standard member Scriabin
    Done Asking
    20 Apr '09 19:38
    Originally posted by scherzo
    No Orientalist stories. I'm proud of you.
    that reminds me of a story that works in the context of the energy debate:

    Mullah Nasrudin was sowing seed in his garden. His wife noticed that the further he went, the faster he sowed.

    "Mullah," she called out to him, "why are you scattering the seed so fast? It would be better to sow it more slowly and carefully."

    "I can't," Nasrudin called back as he rushed by. "There isn't much seed left and I want to get the job finished before it runs out."
  9. Standard member Scriabin
    Done Asking
    20 Apr '09 19:40
    Originally posted by uzless
    Um, yes it is pretty simple. "Clean coal" is a myth. It will take years and years to research, develop and study whether or not all the components would work. All of this will cost a dumpload of money.

    It's funny/sad that the coal industry is asking for taxpayer money to fund the research. These coalsuckers actually want us to fund their get rich schem ...[text shortened]... r money go into actually solving the energy issue once and for all. Coal is not it.
    so, you take a non-technical, ideological view of the question?

    coal people -- bad

    enviros --- good

    it's that simple?
  10. 20 Apr '09 19:41
    Originally posted by Scriabin
    that reminds me of a story that works in the context of the energy debate:

    Mullah Nasrudin was sowing seed in his garden. His wife noticed that the further he went, the faster he sowed.

    "Mullah," she called out to him, "why are you scattering the seed so fast? It would be better to sow it more slowly and carefully."

    "I can't," Nasrudin called back ...[text shortened]... y. "There isn't much seed left and I want to get the job finished before it runs out."
  11. 20 Apr '09 19:52
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    I personally don’t think it is worth doing research on “clean coal” when “clean coal” doesn’t normally mean no CO2 (unless you are talking about carbon burial?) and when that money, time and recourses used in that research in “clean coal” could be better spent on research into renewable energy and when we are going to eventually be forced to stop using coal and use renewables anyway to avoid the nightmare of very extreme global warming.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/3325679/The-truth-about-global-warming---its-the-Sun-thats-to-blame.html
  12. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    20 Apr '09 19:55
    Originally posted by Scriabin
    so, you take a non-technical, ideological view of the question?

    coal people -- bad

    enviros --- good

    it's that simple?
    Come on Scriabin, give me some credit. I've weighed the pros and cons, looked at the evidence, heard from both sides, and made a decision.

    Coal is not the answer. Good or bad is irrelevant.

    I'm more concerned with finding the answer. I don't care who finds it. Just find it. Coal is not the answer.
  13. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    20 Apr '09 19:58
    Originally posted by Metal Brain
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/3325679/The-truth-about-global-warming---its-the-Sun-thats-to-blame.html
    "Dr Solanki said that the brighter Sun and higher levels of "greenhouse gases", such as carbon dioxide, both contributed to the change in the Earth's temperature but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact"


    Thanks for wasting our time.
  14. Subscriber Sleepyguy
    Reepy Rastardly Guy
    20 Apr '09 20:05
    Well I really don't know jack about carbon sequestration so don't shoot me, but isn't it true that one of the major stumbling blocks, if not the major stumbling block, is that those who would pursue it first want the government to limit their liability? If they had that in hand, it seems to me they would have developed it already without public funding.
  15. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    20 Apr '09 20:17 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Sleepyguy
    Well I really don't know jack about carbon sequestration so don't shoot me, but isn't it true that one of the major stumbling blocks, if not the major stumbling block, is that those who would pursue it first want the government to limit their liability? If they had that in hand, it seems to me they would have developed it already without public funding.
    liability is just ONE of the stumbling blocks. If CO2 were to escape in a massive event, say an earthquake for example, the company would be on the hook; never mind what a big giant CO2 cloud would do to your health.

    But consider how coal is "mined" anyway. It's OPEN PIT mining for the most part. Take a look at an open pit mine and what it does to the environment. Then ask yourself how this can possibly be called "clean"

    http://energy.er.usgs.gov/images/organic_petrology/mine_aerial.jpg

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/182/424042721_4d94e3016e.jpg