High School Science And Cap And Trade Legislation

Posted on Tue 11/16/2010 by


This article was first posted in a shorter form at American Thinker in a Post at this link.

When people said that any Climate Change legislation was not about the environment, but was really only about the money, it was an easy thing to discount. People passed it off as being said because that was the opposite political agenda of what the Government proposed with its Cap and Trade Legislation.

Was it just all about the money?

Yes, and it all hinges on something that nobody understands, and even when it’s explained people still think its incredulous.

For every one ton of coal burned, 2.86 tons of Carbon Dioxide is produced.

Wait a minute. How can one ton of hard coal produce nearly triple that weight of a gas, in this case CO2?

Those pushing this Climate Change argument ask us to accept some of the most complex science that very few understand, and to accept that Science on faith.

Yet this coal to CO2 thing is not complex science. It’s basic first year high school science that we all learned. Science was never really cool at high school, so we remembered enough to get us through the exams, and once that was achieved, it was no longer necessary to remember it.

One of the first things we learned in high school science was the first few atoms in the periodic table of elements, Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, etc. What that indicates is the smallest of atoms working up to the heavier atoms, each with more protons, electrons, and neutrons, hence the weight rises as you go up the chart.

Notice there how Oxygen comes after Carbon. So, in actual fact, one atom of Oxygen is just that slight bit heavier than Carbon.

We are told that the main culprits in this argument are those coal fired power plants. Coal is crushed and fed into a critical furnace to burn. As it burns, it generates huge amounts of heat, which is used to boil water to highly pressurised steam, which drives a turbine, which drives the generator to produce the electrical power we all use. That generator complex can weigh up to 400 tons, and when joined to the turbine, the weight then becomes even larger. All of this rotates at 3600 RPM. Snap your fingers, and then snap them again. That is 60 rotations of 400 tons with each snap of your fingers.

See why huge amounts of steam are required. To produce that steam, huge amounts of coal are needed, and again, this is a difficult thing to comprehend. A large coal fired power plant will burn 6.5 million tons of coal each year, and some even more, which actually sounds unbelievable, but in fact is stated at nearly every website for those power plants, and so you don’t think I’m just making it up, it is stated at one of those sites, this one for the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant in Pennsylvania at this link, which uses 7 million tons of coal each year, and be aware that this is a pdf document. That amount of 6.5 million tons of coal being burned each year equates to more than one ton of crushed coal being burned every five seconds.

So how does one ton of coal produce 2.86 tons of CO2?

During the burning process, every Carbon atom in the coal combines with 2 atoms of Oxygen to form Carbon Dioxide, (CO2) hence more tripling the weight. As coal is basically all Carbon, and some other elements as well, so that multiplier is indeed 2.86 tons of CO2 for each ton of coal. That’s an actual physical weight of 2.86 tons. A further technical explanation is shown at this link, and after you take the link scroll down a little to the heading ‘Coal Combustion and Carbon Dioxide Emissions’, and it confirms this there.

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You may remember from High School Science being told about the shells of electrons surronding each Atom. The first shell needs 2 electrons to be filled. The second shell needs 8 electrons to be filled. Notice how the Carbon atom has four atoms in its second shell, so to become fully stable as an molecule, it needs 4 electrons to fill it. As for the Oxygen atom, it has 6 electrons in its outer shell, needing 2 to fill it. If those Oxygen atoms need to fill both their shells to become stable as a molecule, then they require 4 electrons, and this is what the Carbon atom has in its outer shell, hence when CO2 is formed, the 2 Oxygen atoms now become stable with the one Carbon atom, hence CO2 is a stable molecule. Conversely, the Carbon atom also becomes stable by sharing electrons from the Oxygen atoms, so all three atoms now share electrons to fill their outer shells, hence CO2 is now a stable molecule. Basic Science I know, and nothing too deep and meaningful about this that we need to accept on faith alone. This is something we all learned in High School, and have now forgotten..

In the U.S. to produce the electrical power we all use, then an amount of  993 Million tons of coal is burned. That is shown at the Energy Information Administration site at this link, and scroll down to the bottom figure on the left alongside the year 2010, where it is shown in Thousand tons. Using that multiplier of 2.86, that effectively means that there are emissions of 2.84 Billion tons of CO2 each year, just from the generation of electrical power from coal fired sources.

CO2 is also emitted by natural gas fired power plants, but only at one third the rate of coal fired plants on a power equivalency basis.

When this is added to the amount from the coal fired plants, we have a total of 3.5 Billion tons of CO2 being emitted each year, just from power plants alone, and keep in mind this a conservative figure, because those Natural Gas fired plants are being asked to work more often, thus increasing their emissions of CO2.

The now failed American Power Act legislation proposed placing a cost on CO2 in the amount of $25 per ton.

Now the total amount in dollar terms for the money to be raised from this cost on CO2 comes in at $88 Billion per year.

Electrical Power generation produces one third of all CO2 emissions, so, if that Legislation was passed, Government was looking at raising around $260 Billion each and every year.

Read that again…..$260 Billion, each and every year, just from emissions of CO2.

That cost would have been passed down to every one us in everything we do in the form of higher charges for the electricity we use at home, and in higher prices for everything else as other sectors pass on their increased charges for the electricity they use, and also for anything that was manufactured in an environment where CO2 was produced.

Can you see now why Climate Change legislation really was just about the money?

This money part of that Legislation was not rocket science.

And it all hinged on high school science, that most of us had forgotten.

All of this was for a trace gas in the amount of 390 Parts per million, which is 0.039% of the total Atmosphere, and that’s high school Math.

Also, if you read the Legislation, (and that’s high school English), you’ll see that they didn’t stop at CO2 but proposed also to place a cost on a number of other emissions as well.

It really was just all about the money.


The Math For Australia.

In Australia, to produce the electrical power we all use, we currently burn 90 Million tons of coal. Using the 2.86 multiplier, that gives us an emission of 260 Million tons of CO2.

Add on the emissions from those natural Gas Fired plants, which mainly only run during peaking Power periods, the total emissions just from the electrical power generating sector come in at a conservative 300 Million tons.

Electrical Power generatio0n makes up one third of all CO2 emissions, so the overall total is now 900 Million tons of CO2.

At Ross Garnaut’s recommended cost of $26 per ton, the take for the Government comes in at a tick under $24 Billion.

I wish someone would ask The Greens Senators Bob Brown and Christine Milne, the Independents holding the Government to ransom giving the Labor Government just the requisite numbers to stay in Government, and even asking this hard question of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and her Ministers, what they actually propose to do with that money, which all of, as citizens will be paying in every facet of our daily lives. I can see an answer somewhere along the lines that some of it will go towards new renewable power plants, which so patently cannot deliver the power that is required absolutely, 24/7/365.

In reality, probably not even they will understand this simple High School Science we all once learned.