[ RadSafe ] Global Warming

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Fri May 30 13:05:21 CDT 2014

I completely agree.  

Currently there is a resurgence in oil and natural gas production in the US.  This is not because new shallow, easy-to-reach fields have been discovered, but because new, much more expensive exploitation techniques have been developed (with some non-trivial problems that have not been well addressed).  There is no rational reason to believe these new sources are limitless.  Warren Buffet says we should use natural gas as a "bridge" energy form, using the energy it provides to develop new non-fossil-fuel energy sources (though I haven't heard him include nuclear in with wind and solar).  

The current boom of oil and gas will peter out (though probably there will deep sources in other countries, so we can revisit the oil crisis of the 1970s, probably with different players).  It is sound economic and national security policy (for all countries, not just the US) to not merely ask "What's next?", but to act make energy production and distribution efficient, diverse, decentralized, and robust.  

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu [mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of KARAM, PHILIP
Sent: Friday, May 30, 2014 10:12 AM
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Global Warming

To a large extent it really doesn't matter whether or not CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are - or are not - causing the climate to change. And for that matter, global temperatures are almost immaterial to the question as to what to do about fossil fuel consumption. There are other compelling reasons to stop burning fossil fuels that are just as compelling and with less scientific controversy.

First - fossil fuels are a finite resource. At some point they will run out. When that point might be is subject to debate - but the Earth has a finite volume, there is a finite amount of fossil biomass that was available to form fossil fuels, etc. - there can be no controversy about whether or not fossil fuels will run out at some point in the future - the only controversy can be as to when they will run out.

Second - fossil fuels are hydrocarbons that are valuable as a chemical resource. They are used as feedstock for fertilizers, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and much more. It makes little sense to burn them and to destroy their utility and value as chemicals.

Third - there is no controversy over the fact that burning fossil fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere, or over the fact that when CO2 dissolves into water it forms carbonic acid. There is some debate over how acidic the oceans need to be before it is harmful to marine life, but there is no debate over the fact that too much acidity is bad for the marine critters. 

So - three good reasons to move away from fossil fuel combustion, each of which should be relatively uncontroversial and each of which is unconnected to global climate change. What I can't fathom is why everybody hangs their hat on the most controversial rationale that has the greatest number of causal links to be proven - and that relies on controversial modeling as well. It seems the environmental/climate change lobby has chosen the most difficult argument for not using fossil fuels and, by so doing, has caused a huge split that need not have occurred.

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