Chasing a Will o’ the Wisp while Ignoring a real Monster in the Sky


State and Federal Governments should stop wasting community resources on useless schemes for carbon trading and carbon sequestration and focus on some real world pollution crises.

The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, said that the government and media focus on carbon dioxide emissions was totally misdirected and counter-productive.

“All it will do is delay the spread of coal powered electricity to many areas now desperate for clean invisible power. It will also give an enormous boost to the demand for uranium fuel, whose mining and use is deterred by politicians in Australia.

“There is already a groundswell of opposition from well informed scientists and engineers to the whole basis of the Greenhouse Religion. Even the PM’s own backbench contains well informed sceptics, and the ranks of scientific sceptics are growing all over the world.

“This irrational and hysterical focus on carbon dioxide is diverting attention and resources from real pollution which is altering local climate and affecting many areas of the world.

“For example, the “Asian Brown Cloud”, a haze of pollution about 3 km thick and sometimes covering an area as big as Australia, is causing real human health and safety problems. At times this cloud drifts right across the Pacific Ocean and is noticed in America.

“China now emits more sulphur dioxide (SO2) than anywhere else in the world. This chokes their people, causes acid rain and damages buildings. This brown haze is already affecting local climate and melting glaciers in China and the Himalayas. In Arctic areas, soot is covering snow and absorbing more heat from the sun. Soon the brown haze will obscure the sun in some polluted Asian cities.

“This pollution is caused by millions of cow-dung cooking fires and open-air cremations in India, cooking with wood, coal and cardboard all over Asia, forest fires in Indonesia and millions of small obsolete and dirty wood, charcoal and coal stoves and furnaces all over Asia and Africa. Similar problems are obvious in places in South America.

“The western world went through this pollution phase fifty years ago, and although improvements can still be made, we have banished the notorious smoke pollution of places like London, Manchester and Pittsburgh.

“London smoke pollution was so bad that the city became known as “The Big Smoke”. Children developed rickets from the lack of sunshine, plants and animals died and lung disease was widespread. During its last and worst ever pollution event, “The Black Fog” of 1952, caused by a temperature inversion over London, visibility was reduced to less than a foot and 4,000 Londoners died from SO2 poisoning (50 in one small London park alone). This shock brought action – cooking and heating with open fires of wood and coal was banned in big cities. Clean electric power saved the forests and cleared the air.

“The world’s worst pollution is caused by open air combustion of wood, dung and coal which produces not only the harmless greenhouse gases of water vapour and carbon dioxide, but also real pollutants such as soot, smoke, ash, dust and chemicals containing sulphur, chlorine, nitrogen, fluorine, and metals. In dilute quantities, these trace elements are not a problem, but when concentrated in city air, they can be toxic.

“Ignoring this real monster threatening human health and the environment, the media and politicians are chasing the CO2 mirage.

“Carbon dioxide puts the bubbles in your beer, the fizz in your soda water, the holes in your bread, the dry ice in your Esky and the gas in your fire extinguisher. It is colourless, odourless, and non-toxic and does not form polluting smog or acid rain. It encourages the growth of all plant life on land and in the oceans. The whole plant world breathes in CO2 during the growing season and releases much of it again when the leaves fall. It is the key recycler of organic matter for the whole food chain, including the human race.

“Man’s emissions of CO2 are a miniscule factor in determining Earth’s temperature. But while are we are wasting time and money trying to catch and imprison this harmless Will o’ the Wisp, an ominous brown smelly choking cloud of real pollution is growing in our northern skies.

“Removing most of the pollutants from combustion emissions is difficult but not impossible. Removing or burying all carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of carbon fuels is an impossible dream. “Zero emissions” and “carbon sequestration” for key carbon fuels like coal, oil, gas and wood are nonsense goals, and their pursuit is diverting attention and truck loads of money from a worthy goal such as “Zero Pollution”.

“The western world has largely beaten its pollution with inventions such as the chimney, the stove, but most of all by a clean, silent, invisible energy called electricity, generated in clean, concentrated and remote power stations while delivering lighting, heating, cooling, cooking and motive power into the most humble home in the poorest suburb.

“To fly over a clean modern coal-fired power station at say 10,000 m is to put it into perspective – a puny cooling tower or two emitting wisps of water vapour and a small amount of (invisible) carbon dioxide and which is dwarfed by any passing cloud, no matter how small.

“This third world problem presents a real opportunity for Australian energy companies to make profits and clean up the environment by promoting clean non-polluting modern power stations burning high quality Australian coals. This will allow cow dung to be used for soil improvement and allow re-afforestation of areas denuded by centuries of scavenging for fire wood.

“Invisible energy from coal has already banished most of the terrible pollution that affected cities such as London, Manchester and Pittsburgh, and allowed the regrowth of American forests.

“The public has been misled on this issue by an unholy alliance of environmental scaremongers, funds-seeking academics, sensation-seeking media, vote-seeking politicians and profit-seeking vested interests.

“Anyone with the real interests of ordinary Australians, Australian industry or the environment at heart would divert public attention and political action from the non-problem of carbon emissions and towards the world’s real pollution problems.

“History shows that people cannot and will not live without energy in their homes. Unless we allow coal to supply clean silent invisible energy, they will continue to burn dung, wood, cardboard, trees, oil, charcoal or reject coal to get their warmth or cook their food.

“Just one well designed, well-scrubbed, modern Australian designed coal power plant running on natural fossil sunshine from the Sunshine State could provide the light, heating, cooling and entertainment silently and invisibly to the front door for about 3 million Asian homes, housing maybe 10 million people.”

Mr Forbes called on government and opposition to cease political grandstanding on the Greenhouse issue, where carbon taxes and carbon emissions trading will adversely affect most Australians, and focus on goals that will really benefit all of Australia and the environment.

“Do we wait for the re-appearance of rickets and lung disease before acting?”

[First released in August 2007]

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