Coal – confirmed by NASA as getting cleaner

Oh Dear, It’s another Joe Romm head exploder. The improvement is verified by satellite data and the results are peer reviewed. Yet the EPA still insists on closing coal plants nationwide.

NASA Satellite Confirms Sharp Decline in Pollution from U.S. Coal Power Plants

A team of scientists have used the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite to confirm major reductions in the levels of a key air pollutant generated by coal power plants in the eastern United States. The pollutant, sulfur dioxide, contributes to the formation of acid rain and can cause serious health problems.

The scientists, led by an Environment Canada researcher, have shown that sulfur dioxide levels in the vicinity of major coal power plants have fallen by nearly half since 2005. The new findings, the first satellite observations of this type, confirm ground-based measurements of declining sulfur dioxide levels and demonstrate that scientists can potentially measure levels of harmful emissions throughout the world, even in places where ground monitoring is not extensive or does not exist. About two-thirds of sulfur dioxide pollution in American air comes from coal power plants. Geophysical Research Letters published details of the new research this month

average sulfur dioxide levels measured by the Aura satellite for the period 2005-2007

average sulfur dioxide levels measured by the Aura satellite for the period 2008-2010 These maps show average sulfur dioxide levels measured by the Aura satellite for the periods 2005-2007 (top) and 2008-2010 (bottom) over a portion of the eastern United States. The black dots represent the locations of many of the nation’s top sulfur dioxide emissions sources. Larger dots indicate greater emissions. (Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory)
› Larger image (2005-2007)
› Larger image (2008-2010)

The scientists attribute the decline in sulfur dioxide to the Clean Air Interstate Rule, a rule passed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 that called for deep cuts in sulfur dioxide emissions. In response to that rule, many power plants in the United States have installed desulfurization devices and taken other steps that limit the release of sulfur dioxide. The rule put a cap on emissions, but left it up to power companies to determine how to reduce emissions and allowed companies to trade pollution credits.

While scientists have used the Ozone Monitoring Instrument to observe sulfur dioxide levels within large plumes of volcanic ash and over heavily polluted parts of China in the past, this is the first time they have observed such subtle details over the United States, a region of the world that in comparison to fast-growing parts of Asia now has relatively modest sulfur dioxide emissions. Just a few decades ago, sulfur dioxide pollution was quite severe in the United States. Levels of the pollutant have dropped by about 75 percent since the 1980s due largely to the passage of the Clean Air Act.

a coal power plant Smokestacks from a coal power plant in Maryland jut into a hazy skyline. Credit: Jeff Stehr, University of Maryland
› Larger image

artist concept of Aura Artist’s concept of the Aura spacecraft. Credit: NASA
› Larger image Vitali Fioletov, a scientist based in Toronto at Environment Canada, and his colleagues developed a new mathematical approach that made the improved measurements a reality. The approach centers on averaging measurements within a 30 miles radius (50 km) of a sulfur dioxide source over several years. “Vitali has developed an extremely powerful technique that makes it possible to detect emissions even when levels of sulfur dioxide are about four times lower than what we could detect previously,” said Nickolay Krotkov, a researcher based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and a coauthor of the new paper.

The technique allowed Fioletov and his colleagues to pinpoint the sulfur dioxide signals from the 40 largest sulfur dioxide sources in the United States — generally coal power plants that emit more than 70 kilotons of sulfur dioxide per year. The scientists observed major declines in sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia by comparing levels of the pollutant for an average of the period 2005 to 2007 with another average from 2008 to 2010.

“What we’re seeing in these satellite observations represents a major environmental accomplishment,” said Bryan Bloomer, an Environmental Protection Agency scientist familiar with the new satellite observations. “This is a huge success story for the EPA and the Clean Air Interstate Rule,” he said.

The researchers focused their analysis on the United States to take advantage of the presence of a robust network of ground-based instruments that monitor sulfur dioxide emissions inside power plant smokestacks. The ground-based instruments have logged a 46 percent decline in sulfur dioxide levels since 2005 — a finding consistent with the 40 percent reduction observed by OMI.

“Now that we’ve confirmed that the technique works, the next step is to use it for other parts of the world that don’t have ground-based sensors,” said Krotkov. “The real beauty of using satellites is that we can apply the same technique to the entire globe in a consistent way.” In addition, the team plans to use a similar technique to monitor other important pollutants that coal power plants release, such as nitrogen dioxide, a precursor to ozone.

OMI, a Dutch and Finnish built instrument, was launched in 2004, as one of four instruments on the NASA Aura satellite, and can measure sulfur dioxide more accurately than any satellite instrument flown to date. Though OMI remains in very good condition and scientists expect it to continue producing high-quality data for many years, the researchers also hope to use data from an upcoming Dutch-built OMI follow-on instrument called TROPOMI that is expected to launch on a European Space Agency satellite in 2014.

On July 6, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), requiring 27 states to significantly reduce power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution in other states. This rule replaces EPA’s 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). A December 2008 court decision kept the requirements of CAIR in place temporarily but directed EPA to issue a new rule to implement Clean Air Act requirements concerning the transport of air pollution across state boundaries. This action responds to the court’s concerns.

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92 thoughts on “Coal – confirmed by NASA as getting cleaner

  1. Hmm, well it isn’t as if I spent time obsessing over SO2, and while its humorous to dig at our nutty obsessive friend, Romm, the benefits of coal far outweigh any imaginary harm pre or post this study.

  2. Mt. Pinutabo injected 20 million tons of SO2 into the atmosphere. So 300 years of total US output in one of Nature’s smaller belches.

  3. It’s great that the SO2 levels are falling, but the much bigger problem is CO2. When you cite research which shows these levels falling, I will get really excited.

  4. Actually, I think sulfur deposition, in small amounts, is a good thing for the environment. As a plant hobbyist I know many plants need more acidic soil than they have and benefit from additional sulfur in the soil. It would be interesting to monitor crop-yields & tree-growth rates in the “high” sulfur areas, like the upper Ohio River valley, keeping in mind that sulfur-levels have decreased markedly in the last few decades.

    Notice that any benefit from anything is not permissible in the CAGW propaganda.

  5. “The scientists, led by an Environment Canada researcher, have shown that sulfur dioxide levels in the vicinity of major coal power plants have fallen by nearly half since 2005.”

    wOw! By half since 2005… And SO2 levels were severely curtailed when acid rain was first attacked as a problem. So I’m guessing that the levels of SO2 from a modern coal power plant are low enough that you could suck on the exhaust stack with little effect? No sarc; that’s pretty impressive results.

    Besides all that, don’t we need the SO2 to counteract the warming effects of CO2?

    Won’t somebody at the EPA make up ther mind?

  6. Hugh Pepper says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:55 am

    It’s great that the SO2 levels are falling, but the much bigger problem is CO2. When you cite research which shows these levels falling, I will get really excited.

    Why ? So it will match the fact that temperatures are falling ?

  7. Further to what H.R. was saying – Way back in the early 90’s. I was selling control systems to a company which designed and implemented incinerators. The president at the time showed me the results from the emissions from a hospital incinerator in Minneapolis they built. The particulate counts at the hospital’s front doors were higher than those coming out of the incinerator’s smokestack. The pollution controls were that good and that was at least 20 years ago.

  8. Regulation really worked fast cleaning up SO2. Now, could something finally be done about all that mercury?

  9. Once and for all: “Acid rain” is not caused by SO2 from coal burning.

    Acidification of lakes, thought to come from acid rain, is caused by rotting vegetation, mostly accrued from land clearing.

    Please – everybody – get your facts straight. Coal burning has nothing to do with lake acidification. If it did, the lakes in Ohio would be more acidic than the lakes in Florida. However, the reverse is true.

  10. I would be interest in seeing similar data regarding two West Coast plants. Specifically the Centralia Steam Plant in Western Washington and the Boardman Plant in Eastern Oregon.
    Both plants are slated to be closed in the next 5 – 10 years, with no associated replacement of power to the regional power grid.

  11. Both plants are slated to be closed in the next 5 – 10 years, with no associated replacement of power to the regional power grid.

    The EPA is set to shut down an amount of generating capacity equal to all of or nuclear power generation with no replacement power. 28 Gigawatts of generation is slated to be taken off the grid by EPA

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2011/10/07/ier-identifies-coal-fired-power-plants-likely-to-close-as-result-of-epa-regulations/

    No replacement power is on the horizon to take its place.

  12. Since the sulfate levels are dropping so fast we can expect it to be heating up in the area right? ;)

  13. Hugh Pepper says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:55 am

    It’s great that the SO2 levels are falling, but the much bigger problem is CO2.
    =========================
    Even the IPCC doesn’t think CO2 is a big problem…..
    …..they let developing countries, the vast majority of countries, do nothing

  14. After reading Willis’ latest contribution it becomes very clear as to the EPA’s motivation in closing coal plants. The life cycle costs of wind and solar are “sky” high compared to coal.

  15. Beng is correct, be scared of zero sulphur, serious agricultural problems.

    In England there is actual trouble and of course extra costs from having to apply this to crops.

    Quick search, plenty to find
    “Over the last decade, sulphur deficiency has increased sub-
    stantially in many crops in the UK, and is predicted to
    increase further because the decreasing trend in S emis-
    sions is expected to continue. Sulphur is important not only
    for crop yields but also for crop quality. Sulphur deficiency
    can also result in greater losses of nitrogen to the environ-
    ment. To predict where S deficiency is likely to occur and to
    recommend optimised uses of S fertilisers requires a
    detailed understanding of the S cycling in soil-crop sys-
    tems. A better understanding of the molecular physiology
    of crop S nutrition is imperative for improving S utilisation
    efficiency and crop quality.”

    http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/corporate/annualreport/2000/7-Sulphur.pdf

    Always someone else’s money.

  16. This shows I am paying for something that was not even needed in my region and should have been implemented on a site by site basis rather than requiring all coal plants to install the additional scrubbers.

  17. When it comes to SO2 and particulates the coal emissions can and should be controlled. They can be too and what is needed are rational rules fairly applied. When one examines the situation those rules exist and are often fairly applied. What is difficult is separating the emotional hype and sophistry from all sides. I can not speak for other jurisdictions I can say our methods here in Alberta are reasonable, not perfect but reasonable. The big problem is often the difference between being able to measure something and understanding what that measurement means.

  18. Hugh Pepper says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:55 am

    It’s great that the SO2 levels are falling, but the much bigger problem is CO2. When you cite research which shows these levels falling, I will get really excited.

    We certainly don’t want you getting more excited than you already are! Has it occurred to you that the reason we are not cooling faster is because of dropping sulfates. CO2 is so yesterday. GK

  19. Gentlemen

    Regards the EPA spokesman’s (Bryan Bloomer) statement:

    “This is a huge success story for the EPA and the Clean Air Interstate Rule”

    In my view, the EPA’s statement is a bad a joke. The Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) rules were overturned by Federal Court in 2008 because the EPA failed to articulate how the regional CAIR rule it created matched the Clean Air Act’s requirement that the EPA must match its emission limitations to the actual impact of upwind States emissions on downwind states ). In short , using the CAIR rule, the EPA attempted to regulate virtually the entire Eastern United States without showing an actual state-to-state impacts. (CAIR remains in effect until the new CSARP rule is enacted).

    When this attempt failed, the EPA then proceeded to redefine what constituted “significant impacts ” on downwind States in a manner which now requires even deeper emissions reductions than CAIR required. This was largely accomplished by claiming upwind States were impacting downwind States if a single monitor in an upwind state was out of compliance & any downwind State’s emissions were projected to enter a downwind State. The EPA new interpretation of “significant impact” was, developed by this current administration, what is the new CSAPR rule. These rules take into effect January 1, 2012.

    There are three major problems with the approach used in CSAPR: 1) The EPA assumed , thru atmospheric modeling, that specific monitoring points in downwind states would be out of compliance. It did so even though it had actual data that showed the same downwind monitors were not out of compliance; 2) The EPA provided no evidence that the emissions from upwind state were actually contributing to (or would have contributed to) the failure of individual downwind air monitors to meet the compliance targets (i.e., they assumed that if even a minor amount of upwind States emissions might enter a downwind State that these theoretical emissions would impact all monitors in the downwind State), and 3) The monitoring sites the EPA based its rule on were located in counties with multiple monitors which were not out of compliance even with their modeling assumptions (thus indicating a clear local problem unrelated to interstate emissions from electric generating units).

    In short, the EPA has ignored evidence that specific cities had (or might have) serious local problems with non-utility facilities like coke plants. Instead of addressing the local problems, the EPA used the process as a means of severely restricting the use of coal by electric utilities. The really galling part of this is that the EPA is deliberately sacrificing the health of citizens in those few areas of the country where real health issues exist.

    Regards,
    Kforestcat

  20. @Sandy says:

    Mt. Pinutabo injected 20 million tons of SO2 into the atmosphere. So 300 years of total US output in one of Nature’s smaller belches.

    ++++

    Exactly! What was the devastating local or downwind effect of ‘all that acid rain’ that should have been created by Mt. Pinatubo? Anything at all? Flattening of forests in an acid rain soup with the floating rotting bodies of endangered species of frog? If there was nothing because of high level dispersion, it supports the old argument that dilution is the solution to pollution.

    Personally I like the desulphurisation approach as the byproduct (sulphur) is valuable. Anyone up for desulphurising a volcano? Might cost a bit. I accept cheques.

  21. Sandy says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Mt. Pinutabo injected 20 million tons of SO2 into the atmosphere. So 300 years of total US output in one of Nature’s smaller belches.
    ——————————————————————————-
    Exactly. The enviros are once again crediting themselves for fixing imaginary problems. Just like the ozone hole. I can’t wait until they announce they’ve fixed the GW issue.

  22. Interesting article, however I have one question. Was generator output the same for the two periods? If so, then the decrease in SO2 is impressive.

  23. One can look in near real time to see where the SO2 is in the atmosphere. For example, I find this handy for keeping track of volcanic eruptions:

    http://satepsanone.nesdis.noaa.gov/pub/OMI/OMISO2/blowup_drag_ME.html (takes a while to load, be patient)

    You will see a fairly decent “smudge” in Africa, that is Nyamuragira which has been putting on quite a show recently and has been emitting a fairly large amount of SO2 right at the equator since November 6 or so. You’ll also notice a plume from Mexico, that’s Popocatepetl. Then there’s a plume in the Columbia/Ecuador region. Those are Tungurahua and Galeras which are both erupting. You can see a bit of a burp in Hawaii and there is a rather large plume that has been going on for months and months Northeast of Australia at Vanuatu.

  24. …but let’s shut down and bankrupt the coal industry anyway, because screw you, America! -BHO and the EPA.

  25. Hugh Pepper says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:55 am

    “It’s great that the SO2 levels are falling, but the much bigger problem is CO2. ”

    What exactly is the problem with CO2? Even the IPCC admits that it will be beneficial until at least 2050 because of its wonderful effects at increasing plant growth rates, better water utilization, and longer growing seasons. And given that the earth’s actual average temperature is tracking substantially below the best case predictions that extends the benefits right on through the end of economically recoverable fossil fuels 200 years from now.

    By far the most insidious disinformation is that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are actually helping make the world a greener place. Anyone actually concerned about greening of the earth knows that green things barely manage to survive seasonal ice and snow and they sure as hell don’t prosper from freezing weather.

  26. Mike from Canmore says:
    December 3, 2011 at 8:46 am
    Further to what H.R. was saying – Way back in the early 90′s. I was selling control systems to a company which designed and implemented incinerators. The president at the time showed me the results from the emissions from a hospital incinerator in Minneapolis they built. The particulate counts at the hospital’s front doors were higher than those coming out of the incinerator’s smokestack. The pollution controls were that good and that was at least 20 years ago.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    I had several similar experiences 20 plus years ago including one where a client was prohibited from discharging sewage into a lake … until we discovered that the sewage was actually of significantly better quality than the existing lake water and would actually improve the quality of water for aquatic life forms. Sometimes things are not what they appear on first glance.

  27. It is estimated that between 20-30 million tons of coal is burned each year in coal seam fires that have started both naturally and sparked by man. Lewis and Clark reported natural coal seam fires burning in Wyoming. One fire in China that over 50 years consumed an estimated 12.43 million tons of coal and prevented another 651 million tons from being mined was only recently put out.

    We are basically talking about the entire annual coal production of West Virginia going up in smoke every year without any “scrubbing”. Much of this is very dirty high sulfur coal. The pollution emitted by these fires is roughly equal to all of the pollution emitted by transportation related fossil fuel burning in the entire world. In other words, putting these fires out would be equal to eliminating the pollution from every car, truck, and train from the face of the earth.

    Then lets begin to talk about natural gas and oil seeps. In the Gulf of Mexico alone the equivalent of two Exxon Valdez loads of oil naturally seeps into the Gulf every year. The amount of oil that naturally seeps into the environment per year is greater than the amount spilled from all human drilling activity over the entire decade of the 1990’s.

    People simply have no sense of scale of how much natural pollution goes on and tend to inflate their own impacts.

  28. many power plants in the United States have installed desulfurization devices and taken other steps that limit the release of sulfur dioxide.
    The funny thing is, that the simplest way to control SO2 emissions is to neutralize those emissions with “milk of lime”…but, to obtain it you need “burnt lime”, by burning CaCO3 with fuel so as to decompose it in CaO + CO2 :-)

  29. Yes, Steve. Also, someone at NOAA needs to be fired and the Geophysical Research Letters need to be shunned. Who were the reviewers? We need to know and we also need to do something about these Canadian researchers who are committing crimes agains humanity!

  30. Hugh Pepper~ If CO2 begins to drop substantially, you will Need to be excited. Shivering will (slightly) offset the increasing Cold you will be feeling.

  31. Up until about 20-25 years ago the application of sulphur-rich fertilizers was unknown in England. The land received sufficient sulphur from dissolved gasses in rainfall. Since the environmentalist’s mandated “clean-up” farmers now have to spread far less efficient sulphur-rich fertilizers on their crop-land but it would appear that a lot of the sulphur so applied is leached from the soil before the plants can make use of it. This results in sulphur pollution of water courses which is detrimental to aquatic life. This is a relatively new phenomenon to most, but one which Rothamsted has been measuring for about 150 years!
    “Annual applications of >50 kg S ha-1 as sulphate for more than 150 years in the Broadbalk Experiment have not resulted in an accumulation of S in the soil.”

    http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/corporate/annualreport/2000/7-Sulphur.pdf

  32. At least one of the dots on that map — Zimmer, in south western Ohio — was SUPPOSED to be nuclear, and thus emit zero SO3. But the environMENTALists “won” that crusade.

  33. The irony here is that SO2 reductions may well be a significant cause of ‘global warming’ due to SO2’s cloud seeding.

    Less SO2 = fewer clouds = more solar insolation = warmer surface temps

    sulfur dioxide
    emissions has been constructed spanning the period 1850–
    2005 using a bottom-up mass balance method, calibrated to
    country-level inventory data. Global emissions peaked in
    the early 1970s and decreased until 2000, with an increase
    in recent years due to increased emissions in China, inter-
    national shipping, and developing countries in general.

    The timeline certainly fits much better than CO2.

  34. You can add,

    Less SO2 = more water vapour = increased greenhouse effect = warmer surface temps

  35. 500 kW-hrs generated means another ton of CO2
    Shutting down those power plants IS their main goal,
    not merely an unfortunate side effect.

    Unplug the EPA from the grid
    and make them pedal generators at their desks.

  36. Dear Stephen Brown @ December 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    You are on target regarding sulfur depletion of the soils. Indeed when I was with the TVA’s National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC) we developed sulfur coated urea specifically to address this problem (as well as to improve nitrogen utilization).

    The problem is especially acute in non-developed countries where the average farmer struggles to afford fertilizers and may not be aware of the sulfur depletion issue.

    Regards, Kforestcat

  37. Werent SO2 scrubbers mandated in the 70’s? Perhaps there was a slight artificial cooling from the SO2 up to that point, which was removed, causing a slight warming?
    Anyone know if someone has looked into this, could late 20th century warming be caused by a reduction the daily amount of SO2 being emitted into the atmosphere?

  38. Charles S. Opalek, PE says:
    December 3, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Once and for all: “Acid rain” is not caused by SO2 from coal burning.

    Acidification of lakes, thought to come from acid rain, is caused by rotting vegetation, mostly accrued from land clearing.

    Please – everybody – get your facts straight. Coal burning has nothing to do with lake acidification. If it did, the lakes in Ohio would be more acidic than the lakes in Florida. However, the reverse is true.
    ###

    Next you are going to be trying to tell us that the change in fish population was caused by the introduction of piscivorouse game fishes!

  39. Interstellar Bill @ 2.29

    Pfffttt…
    That is called ‘work at home’ (or work at second employment or activist venture) while still controlling the masses.
    Regulation, based in selective selection of ‘samples’ and attendant ‘data’ input has extended to even more to the activities and industry of the bush.
    The saga of Matt and Janet Thompson reported by WUWT and Jo Nova is an eg of that.

    The workers and family business have been there with pedal and succeeded in educating their kids.

    http://www.gizmag.com/go/5714/picture/24026/

    and http://www.wilmap.com.au/people/traeger.html
    just to let you know how widespread the technology became.

  40. Jason Miller said on December 3, 2011 at 9:03 am:

    Regulation really worked fast cleaning up SO2. Now, could something finally be done about all that mercury?

    All what mercury?

    http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/pollutioncontrols/overview_mercurycontrols.html (bold added):

    (…) In 1995, an estimated 5,500 tons of mercury was emitted globally from both natural and human sources. Coal-fired power plants in the United States contributed less than 1 percent of the total.

    The amount of mercury being deposited today on land and in water is actually much lower than in recent decades. Peat cores from Minnesota, for example, show that mercury deposition was highest in the 1950s, with levels about 10 times greater than those before 1900. By the 1980s, however, depositions had fallen to less than half of the 1950s. Emissions data from Sweden and measurements of mercury levels in birds and other animals in the United Kingdom also show a consistent pattern suggesting that mercury levels reached a peak around 1960.

    Mercury emissions continued to fall in the decade of the 1990s. In 1993, U.S. yearly emissions totaled about 242 tons. By the end of the decade, emissions had declined to less than 160 tons per year.

    The primary reason is that the use of mercury in batteries, fungicides and paints has been reduced. Also, municipal waste combustors, hazardous waste combustors, and medical waste incinerators have been regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The number of operating chlor-alkali plants has also declined from about 20 in 1990 to 12 in 2000, and those still operating have reduced their mercury use. Federal regulations reducing mercury emissions by 90 percent from municipal waste combustors and by 94 percent from medical waste incinerators were released in October 1995 and in August 1997. In 1998 mercury emissions from hazardous waste combustion facilities were also regulated.

    Coal-fired power plants contribute only a small part of the total worldwide emissions of mercury. The estimated 48 tons of mercury they emit annually is about one-third of the total amount of mercury released annually by human activities in the United States.

    Now compare that to this April 07, 2011 newspaper account of a growing Hg contamination issue:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/07/business/la-fi-lightbulb-mercury-20110407


    Demand for CFL bulbs is growing as government mandates for energy-efficient lighting take effect, yet only about 2% of residential consumers and one-third of businesses recycle the new bulbs, according to the Assn. of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers.

    As a result, U.S. landfills are releasing more than 4 tons of mercury annually into the atmosphere and storm water runoff, according to a study in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Assn.

    A San Francisco hardware store owner is all too familiar with the bulb issue.

    “They’re promoting them and giving them away, but there’s nowhere to drop them off,” said Tom Tognetti, co-owner of Fredricksen’s Hardware.

    I continually find this issue obfuscated by claims that the energy savings lead to reduced demand on coal-fired electric plants yielding less Hg emissions at those plants. To wit:


    CFL bulbs actually have fewer mercury concerns than incandescent lights, according to the California Energy Commission. Although the older bulbs contain no mercury, they’re often powered by coal-fired electricity plants, which release mercury as a pollutant. The result is about 40% less mercury emissions per bulb with CFLs, according to Environmental Protection Agency figures.

    Some claims are even more extreme:

    http://www.helplightnj.com/about/do-your-part-recycle-spent-cfl-bulbs/

    Generating power is the number one contributor of mercury in the environment. CFLs save up to 70% of lighting energy, which means that power plants can produce 70% less power, which means 70% less mercury in the atmosphere.

    Strangely enough, this claim does not factor in the Hg emissions from any coal-fired energy sources for the energy used in manufacturing and recycling CFL’s, let alone the Hg emissions from obtaining the Hg and manufacturing process releases. The 70% can be figured by a Nov 2010 EPA document (fine print says it’s a “living document” subject to change):

    http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/promotions/change_light/downloads/Fact_Sheet_Mercury.pdf

    Which makes an amazing claim:

    Most mercury vapor inside fluorescent light bulbs becomes bound to the inside of the light bulb as it is used. EPA estimates that the rest of the mercury within a CFL – about 11 percent – is released into air or water when it is sent to a landfill, assuming the light bulb is broken.

    This allows them to significantly downgrade their estimate of Hg released. And they are also not mentioning the Hg emissions related to manufacturing, and recycling including recovering the Hg from the toxic glass, if possible. Since the EPA thinks 89% of the Hg will stay forever bound to the glass in a landfill, it must take a lot of energy to liberate the Hg when recycling. Looks like there may be even more Hg released by recycling than just chucking them into a landfill.

    So the EPA wants to regulate out of existence the coal-fired power plants that release only a relatively tiny bit of worldwide Hg emissions. But they want us to use CFL’s while being less than precise about the Hg emissions involved. And if you’re really worried about those coal-fired power plant emissions, ask yourself this: Which gives you a more severe exposure to Hg, those plant emissions spread out across the map, or a single CFL broken in your house? With EPA recommendations of ventilating a room for several hours with outdoor air after breaking a CFL, the answer should be obvious.

  41. Isn’t that beautiful?

    Just a few decades ago, sulfur dioxide pollution was quite severe in the United States. Levels of the pollutant have dropped by about 75 percent since the 1980s due largely to the passage of the Clean Air Act.

    I think, that was the time, the CAGW hype started.
    Lesser SO2 means lesser cloud condensation nuclei -> temperature increase.

    So much for a “man-made” warming…

  42. Please – everybody – get your facts straight. Coal burning has nothing to do with lake acidification. If it did, the lakes in Ohio would be more acidic than the lakes in Florida. However, the reverse is true.

    SO2 from coal burning certainly does cause more acidic rain and more acidic rivers and lakes.

    The natural PH of rivers and lakes varies greatly. Whether one lake or river is more or less acidic than another river or lake is irrelevant to whether SO2 emissions cause acid rain and more acidic lakes and rivers.


  43. Hugh Pepper says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:55 am

    “It’s great that the SO2 levels are falling, but the much bigger problem is CO2. …”
    [emphasis mine]

    Non sequitur.

  44. At least some of the decrease is likey due to the downturn in the economy.

    Re: CFL lights and mercury. Whenever somebody breaks a CFL (not rare at my place) the mercury goes into their home (air, carpet, clothes, lungs, food, etc.) with pretty much no dilution. When coal plants (or waste dumps) release it, it gets mighty dilute before it gets to me.

    The effects of coal should be evaluated with the best science available, and the shouting (meaning the political silly twaddle) should be a minimum. A good reason to dial back on coal is it, along with petroleum, is too valuable to just burn. It can be used in pharmaceuticals, plastics, paints, etc. We may be wanting it more for those things in the not too distant future.

    But the dial back shold not be done with fire-sale panic. All that will do is tank the economy and under cut the very research that will let us solve our problems.

  45. This is easy to resolve all we need to do is pass a law ensuring that noboby anywhere on the planet burns anything for the next decade.

    At the end of the decade our betters will be able to relate the outcome of the experiment, that is providing they are still alive and capable of speech.

  46. This is great news!
    Now they can measure the SO2 emissions anywhere!
    So….

    Could we please get that satellite taking a few snaps of China?

    The last refuge of the warmists seems to be that all those new coal powered plants in China are emitting aerosols that are “masking” the warming from CO2. Personally I doubt it. To do that, they’d have to build coal fired power plants to standards even lower than what we built in the 1940’s… let alone today’s standards. My guess is that their plants are just as clean or cleaner than our plants of the same vintage.

    But why guess when you can measure? So c’mon warmists…. pony up some bucks… let’s go measure. What have you got to lose? Other than the last teeny bit of credibility that you still have?

  47. Decreased SO2 from coal plants in the 70’s due to scrubbers might have been a contributuor to warming, has anyone done any research into it?

  48. Sandy says:

    Mt. Pinutabo injected 20 million tons of SO2 into the atmosphere. So 300 years of total US output in one of Nature’s smaller belches.

    Interesting that on a website populated by self-proclaimed “skeptics”, none of the 50+ posts following this one have expressed any skepticism about its claims, while two posters have cheered it with the same word: “Exactly.”

    Well, not exactly! It turns out that the total US output of SO2 in one or two years (see here: http://cfpub.epa.gov/eroe/index.cfm?fuseaction=detail.viewInd&lv=list.listbyalpha&r=219694&subtop=341 ) … not 300 years … is about 20 millions tons of SO2, i.e., the same as what was apparently put out by Mt. Pinatubo.

    Also, the Mt. Pinatubo eruption is hardly one of nature’s smaller belches, being the second largest eruption of the 20th century according to the list here: http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/platetec/topten.htm ). Admittedly, there have been much larger eruptions in the geologic past, but I don’t think they are too relevant for discussing modern contributions of SO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

  49. Joel Shore;
    Interesting that on a website populated by self-proclaimed “skeptics”, none of the 50+ posts following this one have expressed any skepticism about its claims, while two posters have cheered it with the same word: “Exactly.”>>>

    Interesting that on RC if someone were to interject with a contrary opinion backed up by measurements and links, the comment would never see the light of day. Thanks for making the point Joel.

    How do anthropogenic sources over all compare with natural sources over all? Hint; don’t forget to include the ocean.

  50. the Mt. Pinatubo eruption is hardly one of nature’s smaller belches

    The amount of SO2 is not related to the amount of erupted material. A volcano can belch large amounts of SO2 without much of an eruption or it can erupt a lot of material with little SO2. SO2 emissions can vary greatly on a day by day basis at a volcano with no change in apparent eruptive behavior.

    Nyamuragira is the most prolific source of SO2 on the planet and produces large amounts of SO2 day in and day out.

  51. Joel Shore says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    The link you show gives the following response:


    Connection closed by remote server.
    You tried to access the address http://cfpub.epa.gov/eroe/index.cfm?fuseaction=detail.viewInd&lv=list.listbyalpha&r=219694&subtop=341, which is currently unavailable. Please make sure that the web address (URL) is correctly spelled and punctuated, then try reloading the page.

    Repeated tries gave the same result. Is the link good as far as you know?

  52. Dear All,

    My apologies for the ‘off topic’ nature of this request.

    I am looking for an explanation or reply to the comment that ‘Australians must do something about reducing carbon dioxide emissions because they are the largest ‘per capita’ emitters in the world’

    Is there a succinct demolition of this arguement , i.e. why not to use ‘per capita’ references/data?

    Thanks, William Martin

  53. From Joel Shore on December 3, 2011 at 7:26 pm:

    Sandy says:

    Mt. Pinutabo injected 20 million tons of SO2 into the atmosphere. So 300 years of total US output in one of Nature’s smaller belches.


    Well, not exactly! It turns out that the total US output of SO2 in one or two years (see here: http://cfpub.epa.gov/eroe/index.cfm?fuseaction=detail.viewInd&lv=list.listbyalpha&r=219694&subtop=341 ) … not 300 years … is about 20 millions tons of SO2, i.e., the same as what was apparently put out by Mt. Pinatubo.

    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/index.php

    For example, the large explosive eruption of Mount Pinatubo on 15 June 1991 expelled 3-5 km³ of dacite magma and injected about 20 million metric tons of SO₂ into the stratosphere.

    Your source (graph here) uses customary US short tons. 2005 (most recent year) shows 15 million short tons US SO₂ emissions, which is about 13.6 million tonnes, round to 14 Mmt.

    If you’re going to take the time to verify the numerical values, you might as well make sure you’re using the same physical units.
    ;-)

  54. ‘Australians must do something about reducing carbon dioxide emissions because they are the largest ‘per capita’ emitters in the world’

    That’s because Australia doesn’t have nuclear power and very little hydro-electric, unlike comparable countries like Canada and the USA.

    75% of Canada’s electricity comes from hydroelectric and nuclear. In Australia, it’s less than 1%.

  55. SO2 is easy to remove from flue gasses leaving water vapour and CO2 neither of which are pollutants. So there you have it— Clean Coal

  56. The parallels between CO2 and SO2 are getting kind of ‘uncanny’ and even as just a ‘cow farmer’ growing grass forage for my animals, I’ve discovered the benefits of extra sulphur in the fertilizer I buy. Sulphur is an essential plant (and animal) nutrient (is it used to make protein?)

    Why did no-one listen to this report, especially for anyone who has read Lomborg’s book.
    In the light of those, de-sulphurisation is a triumph of the ‘digging holes to fill them back in again’ ethic – that is exactly what happens in the UK. Huge holes are being dug to get the required limestone, power plant efficiency is chopped by at least 5%, mountains of unwanted gypsum are created to go back into the holes they’ve dug and extra (unnecessary) expense is added to everyone’s cost of living for those most basic of requirements, food and power.
    Quite quite mad, the lot of them.

  57. The EPA calculation concerning the environmental impacts of an incandescent lamp versus a CFL falls short on many aspects.
    1. EPA compares an incandescent lamp of 60W with a CFL of 13W. According to a VITO-study (Final Report. Domestic lighting, 2009, p. 112-113) it should be better to use the equivalence of 4:1. So, a 60W incandescent lamp should be replaced by a 15W CFL. This requirement compensates for the lower real life performance of the CFLi compared to GLS [incandescent lamp: ‘General Lighting Service lamp’] due to lower LLMF (ageing factor, (…)), temperature effects, potential influence from lamp position and a compensation for the low start performance due to warm-up time.
    2. EPA asserts that the CFL has a lifetime of 8000 hours. According to several consumers’ organizations, the tested lifetime of the CFL does not always match the promised lifetime. One of the most common complaints of customers is premature failure after only a few hours, days, weeks or years, way short of the life rate stated on the package. The New York Times brought attention to this problem: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/business/energy-environment/28bulbs.html?_r=1 .
    3. According to EPA, the national average of mercury emissions (mg/kWh) due to the electricity production, is 0.012 mg. With the study “Dirty Kilowatts. America’s Top Fifty Power Plant Mercury Polluters, March 2010″ in hand, one can conclude that, for the year 2008, the mentioned mercury emission was about 0.009 mg/kWh. For more details, see my paper “Mercury in fluorescent lighting”.(http://www.mijnbestand.nl/Bestand-YLBHPNAA6ADP.pdf) Remark that the emission must be large to justify the use of CFL! The introduction of CFLs and the ban of incandescents can only be justified by EPA if the mercury emission by coal-fired power plants remains high!! With a low or no mercury emission, the CFLs would become obsolete. Then only these lamps should cause mercury pollution.
    4. As already has been mentioned by “kadaka (KD Knoebel)” in her/his excellent comment, EPA uses a trick to minimize the impact of mercury in a landfill. The content of 4 mg mercury in the CFl has been reduced to only 0.44 mg!! As if by magic, 89% of the mercury content has disappeared! It is known that landfill mercury is converted to methyl mercury by microbial action. (See presentation by Kevan Shaw: http://savethebulb.org/document-downloads ) More information can be found in my paper.
    5. The mentioned EPA calculation does not factor in the power factor. For lamps operating on a ballast or electronics such as CFLi’s, this power factor can go down to 0,50; the lower the power factor, the higher the electrical current that is needed to result in the same real power. This higher current causes 5% more losses in the electrical grid that feeds the lamp. Therefore a correction factor ‘Lamp Wattage Factor LWFp’ is introduced. (VITO-study, 2009, p. 131) Therefore, the lamp wattage factor of the CFL lamp should be determined at 1.05 instead of 1, i.e. 13.65 W instead of 13 W or better (see remark 1) 15.75 W instead of 15 W.
    6. EPA makes only a comparison between two lamps: an incandescent lamp and a CFL. Meanwhile, a new lamp is on the market: the halogen bulb. This lamp has the light quality of an incandescent bulb and saves up to 30% energy. They are not expensive. In comparison with the CFL and the incandescent bulb, this lamp is the best choice. The consequence is far-reaching: CFLs are just needless and very noxious, because alternatives are available under various forms and technologies.
    7. As stated by “kadaka (KD Knoebel)”: “Strangely enough, this claim does not factor in the Hg emissions from any coal-fired energy sources for the energy used in manufacturing and recycling CFL’s, let alone the Hg emissions from obtaining the Hg and manufacturing process releases.” According to The Times on line, dated May 3, 2009: (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6211261.ece )
    Large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury, which forms part of the compact fluorescent lightbulbs. A surge in foreign demand, set off by a European Union directive making these bulbs compulsory within three years, has also led to the reopening of mercury mines that have ruined the environment.
    I hope that this arguments will put pressure on the EPA to lift the ban on incandescent bulbs and even to ban the CFLs.

  58. 1.
    Latitude says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Speaking of satellites measuring….

    ….what in this world happened to this?……

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/japanese-satellites-say-3rd-world-owes-co2-reparations-to-the-west/

    ________________________________________-
    Someone a few days ago referred to that from a newer article. However the picture had changed and showed the EU and parts of the USA were deep red and the commenter was blaming the USA, Canada and the EU for producing CO2 using the article for evidents.

    So THAT is what happen to the report.

    Here is the article it is #1 on the google listings (SURPRIZE) http://www.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/gosat/index_e.html

    It is rather interesting because this image: http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_full_width/hash/70/31/70319ba7fa0b483c5892e7f9b3a9f7f7.jpg

    was captured February 17, 2010 12:31 am ET by the Examiner with the title Worldwide data about CO2 and Methane levels taken from a Japanese satellite opening to the public. and CREDIT: image:NIES press release

    http://www.examiner.com/japan-headlines-in-national/co2-and-methane-worldwide-data-from-japanese-satellite-to-be-opened-to-public

    There is a link to https://data.gosat.nies.go.jp/GosatUserInterfaceGateway/guig/GuigPage/open.do

    Now, just after a year since Ibuki’s launch, its data will become available for download via NIES’ website for anyone interested in the raw information. Data sets include periods in April, June, July, and from the end of October, 2009 to the end of January 2010. The information appears as though it will be available in both English and Japanese, but that has not been fully confirmed as of this report.

    Another link to Joshua Williams who looks at the news from Japan for the examiner. Perhaps he can shed some light on WUWT http://www.examiner.com/japan-headlines-in-national/joshua-williams (Hint to Anthony)

  59. Hugh Pepper says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:55 am

    It’s great that the SO2 levels are falling, but the much bigger problem is CO2. When you cite research which shows these levels falling, I will get really excited.
    ________________________________
    OH?

    So you admit you are a Malthusian and get a kick out of babies starving to death and old folks freezing to dead.

    Beware what you wish for because it is not what you think and you will live to regret it.

    As a college student in the 1960’s I wished people would appreciate nature more. Now I find that wish has turned into my worst nightmare. It has been used as the excuse to wipe my civilization and my country off the map.

  60. *****
    crosspatch says:
    December 3, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Both plants are slated to be closed in the next 5 – 10 years, with no associated replacement of power to the regional power grid.

    The EPA is set to shut down an amount of generating capacity equal to all of or nuclear power generation with no replacement power. 28 Gigawatts of generation is slated to be taken off the grid by EPA

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2011/10/07/ier-identifies-coal-fired-power-plants-likely-to-close-as-result-of-epa-regulations/

    No replacement power is on the horizon to take its place.
    *****

    As Marvin Martian said, “That makes me very angry. Very angry indeed!”

    I know the US doesn’t have anywhere close to 28 GW of idle reserve. So what exactly will happen when these EPA proclamations from holy-high come down? Just shut off the plants? Brownouts would begin when just a few of the largest ones were shut off.

    This is exactly the atmosphere of fear & uncertainty that the EPA, NGOs & leftists-greenies (and our present Obamanation-in-Chief) desire so they can continue gnawing away at the foundations of the US. I’m not kidding.

  61. In Reply to kadaka (KD Knoebel) says @ December 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Regarding your comments on utility Hg emissions. Your right on target. This is precisely why the EPA’s own cost figures show the proposed Utility MACT rule (renamed the HAPs Toxic Rule) shows that for a 9 billion dollar investment the health benefit of removing the mercury is a measly 2.5 million. It’s also the reason the EPA added fake PM 2.5 “health benefits” the to HAPs rule. Bluntly put, EPA had to beef up the health claims to justify Hg regulation.

    Kforestcat

  62. Charles S. Opalek, PE says:
    December 3, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Once and for all: “Acid rain” is not caused by SO2 from coal burning.

    Acidification of lakes, thought to come from acid rain, is caused by rotting vegetation, mostly accrued from land clearing….
    ________________________________________
    I agree with you and our lab produced a lot of data to prove it.

    The De-izoning unit was turning out very acidic water. The batch had to have a pH of 8.1 We went nuts trying to come up with a constant amount of KOH to add to the batches and ended up having to titrate the water for every batch.

    The analysis by the manufacturers of the DI equipment showed the problem was long chain organic acids from the low level of the Merrimack River due to a drought. This was back in 1985ish

  63. Joel Shore,

    Good point. In fact I was doing the web research and getting ready to post similar to yours.

    Pinutabo put out about 1.5 years of US emissions (based on 2005 emissions).

    One of the Iceland volcanos puts out about 1 million tons per year (3000 tons daily).

    Don’t be so skeptical about skeptical web sites (lest we label you a skeptical web site denier)

    I have a PhD in Biophysical Chemistry and thus have a good grasp of all 3 major branches of science. I just want the real uncertainties to be admitted and used in all discussions and for this settled science nonsense to be exposed. Most real scientists (including most AGW climatologists) don’t say the science is settled.

  64. kadaka says:

    Your source (graph here) uses customary US short tons. 2005 (most recent year) shows 15 million short tons US SO₂ emissions, which is about 13.6 million tonnes, round to 14 Mmt.

    My “one or two years” comment purposely gave a range since:

    (1) the amount of SO2 that Mt. Pinatubo emitted is presumably not known to a great degree of precision.

    (2) U.S. SO2 emissions have been steadily declining over time due to environmental regulations, so it was not clear what number should be used. (If the author of the original post was trying to imply that SO2 should never have been regulated, the number to use would presumably be what was emitted before regulations cut the value back. If the author was trying to imply that SO2 no longer needs to be regulated, the number to use would presumably be what was emitted before regulations cut the value back.)

    In the light of the above uncertainties and the fact that I incorporated them by saying “one or two years”, the small correction due to the difference between short tons and metric tonnes is irrelevant.

  65. davidmhoffer says:

    How do anthropogenic sources over all compare with natural sources over all? Hint; don’t forget to include the ocean.

    I don’t know, do you have any references that show the ocean is a significant emitter of SO2…and, if so, are you talking about gross emissions or net emissions? Clearly, it would not be honest to look at only one side of the ledger. (I did a quick google search and didn’t find anything.)

    [I almost think that your comment might have been meant to refer more to CO2, in which case my question above is not relevant but the second question (gross vs net) clearly is.]

  66. Re: CFL lights and mercury:

    What people forget is that local landfills BAN the CFL lights because they are “Toxic” Therefore many of the more rural landfills require homeowners to store the used bulbs at home until the landfill has a “Hazardous Waste Day”

    I was talking to a small business owner in Tennessee a couple of days ago about this. His town has a “Hazardous Waste Day” once a YEAR. We were discussing whether or not he should put a lock on his dumpster to prevent people from dumping the bulbs in his dumpster.

    In my area I had to put in locked gates to keep people from driving down my private road and dumping construction and hazardous waste.

    Given the number of dump sites along my country road, I will GUARANTEE these bulbs are going to get flung from cars like beer cans and soda bottles do or they will be buried in the regular household waste. (Don’t leave finger prints or received envelopes, that is how we caught one of the Jack@**’s who dumped on my land)

  67. crosspatch says:

    The amount of SO2 is not related to the amount of erupted material. A volcano can belch large amounts of SO2 without much of an eruption or it can erupt a lot of material with little SO2. SO2 emissions can vary greatly on a day by day basis at a volcano with no change in apparent eruptive behavior.

    Okay…but is there any evidence that Mt Pinatubo was only a small belch in terms of SO2 emissions, as was claimed?

    Nyamuragira is the most prolific source of SO2 on the planet and produces large amounts of SO2 day in and day out.

    This paper http://toms.umbc.edu/Library/carn_bluth_GRL03.pdf gives an estimate of Nyamuragira’s yearly-average SO2 emissions from its eruptive emissions of ~0.4 million tonnes per year (note that a teragram is a million tonnes). [see paragraph 16] That is well less than the U.S. SO2 emissions of more than 10 million tonnes. [They note “However, we stress that this only accounts for eruptive emissions, and at present we lack constraints on whether Nyamuragira emits significant SO2 between eruptions.” They further note that because of the large SO2 flux rate during the eruptions themselves, “a high volume, sustained eruption from the volcano could have a severe environmental impact.”]

    It is also worth noting also that, unlike CO2, the effects of SO2 (at least SO2 emitted into the troposphere) are more localized, so a volcano in Africa, even if it emits a lot of SO2, would not affect air quality in the U.S. as much as a much smaller amount of anthropogenic U.S. emissions would.

  68. Dan Evens says:
    December 3, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    …….t the dial back shold not be done with fire-sale panic. All that will do is tank the economy and under cut the very research that will let us solve our problems.
    _________________________________

    The entire point is to tank western civilization.

    From Maurice Strong, now advisor to the Chinese government He said this at the opening session of the Rio Conference (Earth Summit II) in 1992.

    “[Industrialized Nations] …developed and benefited from the unsustainable patterns of production and consumption which have produced our present dilemma. It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class — involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing — are not sustainable. A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to environmentally damaging consumption patterns.”

    In his essay Stockholm to Rio: A Journey Down a Generation, Strong writes

    “Strengthening the role the United Nations …will require serious examination of the need to extend into the international arena the rule of law and the principle of taxation…. But this will not come about easily. Resistance to such changes is deeply entrenched. They will come about not through the embrace of full blown world government, but as a careful and pragmatic response to compelling imperatives and the inadequacies of alternatives…..

    “The concept of national sovereignty has been an immutable, indeed sacred, principle of international relations. It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to the new imperatives of global environmental cooperation…. it is simply not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation-states, however powerful…..”

    Strong is a key player and master manipulator with the morals of a mink. If you do not know of him I suggest you study up.

  69. William Martin says:
    December 3, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Dear All,

    …..I am looking for an explanation or reply to the comment that ‘Australians must do something about reducing carbon dioxide emissions because they are the largest ‘per capita’ emitters in the world’…..
    _____________
    Try looking at Energy Consumption as a starting place.
    Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption

    Wiki has a chart of the top Coal producers and Australia is NOT top ranked and also exports to China

    Energy Statistics > Usage per person (most recent) by country: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_usa_per_per-energy-usage-per-person Lists Australia as #5 for energy use per person.

    The same site list Australia as #177 (29.3%) for Energy Statistics > Electricity > Production by source > Fossil fuel (most recent) by country http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_ele_pro_by_sou_fos_fue-electricity-production-source-fossil-fuel

    I hope that helps with your question and gives you a starting place.

  70. Pete in Cumbria UK says:
    December 4, 2011 at 3:13 am

    The parallels between CO2 and SO2 are getting kind of ‘uncanny’ and even as just a ‘cow farmer’ growing grass forage for my animals, I’ve discovered the benefits of extra sulphur in the fertilizer I buy. Sulphur is an essential plant (and animal) nutrient (is it used to make protein?)…
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Some proteins.

    From a good article on sulfur in the body. http://pigmanagement.blogspot.com/2009/08/sulfur.html

    …..In non ruminants, sulfur, at least for the most part, should be in the form of sulfur-containing protein that as amino acid there are methionine, cystine and cysteine (usually 0.6 – 0.8% of the protein)

  71. Rik Gheysens says:
    December 4, 2011 at 4:34 am
    …..“Mercury in fluorescent lighting”.(http://www.mijnbestand.nl/Bestand-YLBHPNAA6ADP.pdf) ….
    _____________________

    Thank you!

    Another report to hand out to the neighbors and to send off to the Congress Critters.

    This is a really good report to give to the small business owners with dumpsters. They are the ones who have to worry about unwanted bulbs being dumped in their garbage and then finding themselves fined.

  72. Gail Combs says: December 4, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Gail, a request. Sometime, in the past week I think, you or someone in a discussion with you posted a short video of CO2 emissions and sinks. I have been going through the posts trying to locate it to no avail. If you know that which I speak of, would you be so kind as to re-post it, or direct me to it. Thank you in advance.

  73. From Joel Shore on December 4, 2011 at 6:08 am:

    My “one or two years” comment purposely gave a range since:
    [many words]
    In the light of the above uncertainties and the fact that I incorporated them by saying “one or two years”, the small correction due to the difference between short tons and metric tonnes is irrelevant.

    I knew that would happen! Ah, if I could only fiscally benefit from a bet made with myself…

    A person thinking as a scientist would acknowledge they erred by mismatching the units. Indeed, “make sure the units match” was drummed into me repeatedly throughout my education in the physical sciences, it’s an absolutely fundamental principle for comparisons and calculations.

    And here you are seriously, not jokingly, seriously arguing how it doesn’t matter since the numbers were close enough and you gave yourself a large margin of uncertainty (of which “around one year” is supportable, two years is way too large). Could one expect to get a paper through peer review with such a units mismatch, or at least one not foretelling of Calamitous Consequences from Catastrophic Climate Change? Heck, could you even get a teacher to give you credit for an answer on a quiz with that reasoning?

    To me, this speaks volumes towards your prompt readiness to defend Climate Science™ as practiced by the “legitimate” Climate Scientists you find acceptable. You delivered your Important Message, that’s what counts, the rest is just trivialities.

    Thank you for the confirmation.

  74. kadaka: When I err, I admit it. But there is nothing I said in my original post that was erroneous in the least. I never equated short tons with metric tons (tonnes). Here is my full statement on the subject in that post:

    Well, not exactly! It turns out that the total US output of SO2 in one or two years (see here: http://cfpub.epa.gov/eroe/index.cfm?fuseaction=detail.viewInd&lv=list.listbyalpha&r=219694&subtop=341 ) … not 300 years … is about 20 millions tons of SO2, i.e., the same as what was apparently put out by Mt. Pinatubo.

    In fact, I had noticed that the two had these different units, but it wasn’t relevant because all that I said in my post is that the 20 million (metric) tons of CO2 estimated to have been emitted from Mt. Pinatubo is equal to 1 or 2 years of SO2 output from the U.S. That is a correct statement, independent of the fact that the source that I linked to showed the value for emissions in short tons and not metric tons.

    To me, your sniping on this issue speaks volumes to how “AGW skeptics” make something out of nothing! Here, I am correcting a claim that was off by a factor of more than 100 and you are sniping at me because you think that I might have not noticed that the link that I gave had units that differ by about 10% from metric tons, even though there was nothing in my post to indicate that I had in fact made such an error. How bizarre!

  75. From Joel Shore on December 4, 2011 at 1:31 pm:

    kadaka: When I err, I admit it. But there is nothing I said in my original post that was erroneous in the least. I never equated short tons with metric tons (tonnes).

    The original claim by Sandy used tons, with no indication that was metric tonnes instead of customary short tons. You repeated the same number.

    Sandy: Mt. Pinutabo injected 20 million tons of SO2 into the atmosphere.
    You: … is about 20 millions tons of SO2, i.e., the same as what was apparently put out by Mt. Pinatubo.

    You presented the numbers as the same. You never mentioned the units difference, did not link to any source stating the first number as metric tonnes, gave zero indication that the numbers given as the same were using different units. When called out on it, you now state that of course you realized from the beginning they were different units, they were close enough so you made no error, etc. This akin to buying something online with a $20 purchase price, paying $20, having it pointed out that was 20 Canadian dollars while you paid US, then replying that of course you knew that and you paid close enough anyway.

    Sounds like a textbook rebuttal, from a Climate Science™ textbook. Kinda like what we’ve been seeing post-Climategate and Climategate 2.0. Do you wish to add that your remarks are taken out of context? ;-)

  76. kadaka: Now you are going around in circles. If one interprets Sandy’s number as being in short tons and the EPA’s number as being in short tons, then there was no conversion issue at all and your whole argument is moot, so why did you ever make the claim that there was a conversion issue to worry about in the first place?

    As it happens, I did look up to verify that Sandy’s number for Mt Pinatubo was itself correct and it was there that I found the source was ~20 using metric tons.

    As for your Canadian / U.S. dollars example: You are again failing to deal with the issue of uncertainties. Sure, if you want a number accurate to a few sig figs, then you have to be careful regarding such conversions. However, if you are dealing with the sort of rough estimates that we are dealing with here, it is not worth stressing over a 10% issue when you only quote the answer to within a factor of two. If I had said that the output from Mt. Pinatubo was, say, 1.64 times the amount of SO2 emitted in the U.S. in 2005, then it would have been important that I had made the comparison with both numbers in the same units; however, I would argue that the bigger error in that case would be believing that either of the two numbers are really known to such a high degree of precision.

    As a physics lecturer, I am often dealing with students who don’t understand the concept of significant figures very well…and when you need to be careful to keep a lot and when you don’t. Perhaps you were never taught this in whatever training you had? Or perhaps you are just grandstanding here to try to distract from the fact that it took someone who doesn’t go around proclaiming himself far and wide as a “skeptic” to actually find the factor of over 100 error in a claim that someone made here and that two other commenters responded to be saying “Exactly.” (To be fair, bill http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/03/coal-confirmed-by-nasa-as-getting-cleaner/#comment-818335 says that he was on too the same thing that I noted.)

  77. kadaka;
    You presented the numbers as the same. You never mentioned the units difference, did not link to any source stating the first number as metric tonnes, gave zero indication that the numbers given as the same were using different units. When called out on it, you now state that of course you realized from the beginning they were different units, they were close enough so you made no error, etc>>>

    Sorry, but the initial claim was that Mt Pinatubo eruption put out 300 times as much SO2 as did the US in a year. What you are trying to argue here is that Joel Shore is wrong because his answer wasn’t precise in terms of tons or tonnes.

    Either way, the original claim was wrong. Be it by a multiple of 300 or 270, it is still way, Way, WAY wrong. You are trying to quible over “how much wrong”. Er… wronger. Uhm…more wrong. Whatever. The claim is wrong, not even close.

  78. Yeah, but SO2 is not the source of life–CO2 is. Therefore the ferocious Econazis are unimpressed. Their aim is to torture and kill as many living things as possible, especially people.

  79. From davidmhoffer on December 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm:

    Sorry, but the initial claim was that Mt Pinatubo eruption put out 300 times as much SO2 as did the US in a year. What you are trying to argue here is that Joel Shore is wrong because his answer wasn’t precise in terms of tons or tonnes.

    I am doing nothing of the sort.

    I knew the numbers were way off because I checked them myself. I have not argued that part. What I did note was the units mismatch, for which I gave Joel a friendly poke in the ribs, which only deserved no reply or something like “ha ha, pull the other one.”

    But apparently Mr. Joel Shore, physics lecturer, is incapable of letting pass the mere mention of anything resembling an error on his part, when there’s enough wiggle room to allow for deniability, and has transformed this into a full-throated defense where He Did Completely Absolutely Positively Nothing Wrong At All. And for this round there’s a shift from complaining about what this says about the mindset of “AGW skeptics,” as if the “other side” never quibbles about the small details, but now he’s busy insulting my education.

    It’s been quite amusing.

  80. Hugh Pepper says:
    December 3, 2011 at 7:55 am

    It’s great that the SO2 levels are falling, but the much bigger problem is CO2. When you cite research which shows these levels falling, I will get really excited.

    See JAXA IBUKI map.
    The only way CO2 levels will fall is if the underdeveloped world industrializes aggressively, so it becomes a net CO2 sink like the West.

    Ijit.

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