Scavenger Hunt: find the lump of coal

In comments, Anna V reminded me of something I’ve been looking for for awhile, but forgotten about in the busy work of the project. With this blog having a worldwide readership now in the thousands, perhaps one of you can help me locate it.

Anna V: Sorry, that is Edward Teller who suggested jets be equipped with gadgets that would release appropriate aerosols to compensated for the warming. If I believed in anthropogenic global warming I would be all for this solution.

REPLY: Anna, thank you for your discourse here. I’d also point out that Dr. Teller may very well single handedly be responsible for the demonization of coal.

Astute readers may recall that Dr. Teller was on the board of the U.S. Atomic Energy commission in the early 70’s. The goal of the agency was peaceful use of atomic energy, i.e. nuclear power plants. Teller was aware that the Soviet Venera 4 probe had penetrated the Venus’ atmosphere in 1967 and showed it was mostly CO2, and that among other factors led to the role of CO2 being figured into the “greenhouse effect”.

In a 1971 paper, James Pollack argued that Venus might once have had oceans like Earth’s It seemed that such a “runaway greenhouse” could have turned the Earth too into a furnace, if the starting conditions had been only a little different.

From Spencer Weart’s Discovery of Global Warming

Teller wanted to push for more nuclear power in the USA, CO2 became a tool to accomplish that. Readers may recall that in the mid to late 1970’s there were a series of magazine ads in major U.S. magazines that had a picture of a lump of coal. The gist of the ad was “coal is dirty, it produces CO2 and soot, harming our atmosphere. Nuclear power is the clean fuel”. If I recall correctly, they were paid for by the Atomic Energy Commission.

So if my memory serves me correctly, it appears the CO2 movement may have been started in part, due to a U.S. Government funded advertising campaign.

I’ve been searching for that ad, and have been combing old magazine sources for it. If anyone can find a copy, I’d be very grateful.

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anna v
April 5, 2008 10:16 am

Yes, I saw the error after I sent the comment. The following repeats what you are saying
” 12. Edward Teller expressed that there was some urgency in developing applied nuclear power. He suggested that the atmospheric CO2 build up could result in a runaway greenhouse effect similar to the planet Venus if we did not stop burning fossil fuels. Venus surface temperatures are hundreds of degrees and life as we know it could not exist there.
13. Stephen Schneider picked up Teller’s theme and said that if this run-away greenhouse heating was threatening human existence then we must stop adding CO2 to our atmosphere. This is how a worst-case scenario became the code some would have us live by today.
14. Teller was the national hero who gave us the hydrogen bomb. A problem with Tellers great talent was that neither he nor Stephan Schneider were apparently well versed in biology. ”
I know some current directors of nuclear research who are on the global warming tailcoats. Actually, since I do believe that controlled fusion will be the way to go in 50 years, in the beginning I thought that the global warming hysteria would help in financing the research better. Than I realized that fission reactors have started salivating over the same scenario as in Teller’s time. At present fission is the only viable alternative energy that will allow the west to keep its energy needs fullfilled and stop emmitting CO2.
REPLY: FYI is my very first website and that’s Jim Goodridge and I writing there. The page dates to 2001, and needs updating.

Jeff Alberts
April 5, 2008 10:20 am

I find the Venus+CO2=runaway greenhouse effect to be incredibly simplistic. Venus isn’t earth, doesn’t have our liquid oceans or H20, and is 1/3 closer to that huge ball of nuclear fire that isn’t variable enough to have any noticeable effect on earth’s changing climate (yeah, right).
By the same reckoning, Mars should be warmer than it is, since it’s also a mostly CO2 atmosphere. Not as thick as Venus, but it’s also 1/3 farther from said big ball of nuclear fire. What’s the common denominator here? All three planets have CO2 (two of them mostly consist of it in their atmospheres), yet all three have drastically different atmospheres

anna v
April 5, 2008 10:22 am

This link is also interesting with alternative solutions instead of CO2 footprinting.
Makes one wonder why they are not being pursued and instead a straight jacket is planned for the whole world to constrain CO2. I begin to believe that it is the Malthusian agenda: diminish world population by any means.

April 5, 2008 11:16 am

Speaking of nuclear power, back in 1994, it was the Clinton administration in general, and specifically Al Gore along with John Kerry in the Senate (how ironic is that?), who worked to end funding of the advanced nuclear reactor program that had nearly completed the experimental phase of development of a new type of fast fission reactor (IFR) with very high fuel “burn-up” rate and fuel recycling within the containment vessal, which would have eliminated most of the waste disposal problems that current thermal (slow) fission reactors have. It was the product of more than a decade of research, and the brainchild of Charles Till. The federal government has spent far more on the still-unused Yucca Mtn. waste “disposal” site than it would have cost to continue IFR R&D to the commercial prototype stage.
Fusion reactors may not have the waste disposal problems, but the reaction itself would be very intensely radioactive, and given the inherent containment difficulties, might be far more prone than current thermal fission reactors to operational radioactive gas leaks, which is their biggest source of radioactivity emissions.

Roy Tucker
April 5, 2008 11:18 am

Supposedly, even after all the years of mining and burning, approximately a thousand gigatons of coal remains. Hmm… Where does coal come from? Oh yeah, it comes from fossilized plants. Gee, where did those plants get all that carbon? Did they get it from the atmosphere? Oh, no! How could that possibly be? You mean there was all that CO2 in the atmosphere and the surface conditions were still conducive to abundant plant growth (to say nothing of dinosaurs and giant insects and early mammals)? I must confess, I’m terribly puzzled. ;^)

Retired Engineer
April 5, 2008 12:39 pm

I am confused as well. From what I have read, per year, the Earth produces around 200 gigatons of CO2 all by itself. Humans around 15 GT. Yet CO2 levels have risen greatly in the past 100 years. Depending on which fanatic you listen to, almost double. Was the natural balance so close that a slight bit more from us folks caused things to get out of hand ?
On the other side of confusion, nuclear power & radioactive waste: As I recall, the Peanut Farmer decided not to build a reprocessing facility, so we have a whole bunch of spent fuel rods in cooling ponds, that no one wants to stuff into Yucca Flats, all because terrorists could swipe the output from the reprocessing facility. It makes nuclear power evil, because of the waste we refuse to do anything about.
As for lumps of coal, I can think of several people who deserve one.

April 5, 2008 1:24 pm

Here’s the lump of coal under the mattress that keeps disturbing my rest.
Leif Svalgaard claims that solar cycles alternate rounded and spiked peaks of TSI. Someone else has shown that cosmic rays correlate with cloudiness and in one solar cycle but not in the next, an alternating effect perhaps caused by the alternating peaks in the solar cycles. The PDO, approximately three solar cycles long, must then have two solar cycles of one type and one of the other. The next PDO would have two of the second type and one of the other. If clouds cool the earth and their absence warms it, then this is a mechanism to explain the alternating cooling and warming trends noted in the last century.
This is simple. Perhaps too simple. But William of Ockham would take a look at it, if only for its simplicity.

April 5, 2008 1:37 pm

And then there is the little matter of the missing magnetic fields and the lack of planetary magnetosphere for both Venus and Mars.

Jeff Alberts
April 5, 2008 1:37 pm

There is still debate on whether coal and oil are really biotic or abiotic. Of course the debate is much like the GW “debate”, where most believe it’s biotic in origin, and a few dissenters believing otherwise. I supposed it could be both, really. But it would seem like the conditions for biotic oil and coal to be created are rare, as far as I know. I aint no expoit, though.

old construction worker
April 5, 2008 1:52 pm

“By the same reckoning, Mars should be warmer than it is, since it’s also a mostly CO2 atmosphere. Not as thick as Venus, but it’s also 1/3 farther from said big ball of nuclear fire. What’s the common denominator here?”
Venus – Thick, abundant, sulfur dioxide cloud cover – 96.5 % CO2. Way to hot
Mars – No cloud cover – 95.72 % CO2. To darn cold
Earth – Not so thick, not so abundant water based cloud cover – .0004 % CO2. Just right
Could the amount of Cloud Cover be part of the common denominator? I know it is not the amount of CO2.

R John
April 5, 2008 2:50 pm

In a 1971 paper, James Pollack argued that Venus might once have had oceans like Earth’s It seemed that such a “runaway greenhouse” could have turned the Earth too into a furnace, if the starting conditions had been only a little different.
I think I read something recently that showed that because Venus has no magnetic field, that the solar wind stripped the planet of any water it had. So comparing Venus to Earth is like comparing an apple to baseball.

Jeff Alberts
April 5, 2008 3:04 pm

Kim, it’s my understanding that certain types of clouds help keep heat in, other types help reflect heat away from the planet. Not sure which is which. But I’m guessing the types of clouds seeded bu GCR are of the latter type?

April 5, 2008 3:10 pm

Carl Sagan promoted the idea of a runaway Greenhouse effect on Venus. He also promoted the Nuclear Winter idea.

Alan Chappell
April 5, 2008 3:26 pm

there are about 200,000 active volcano’s under our oceans, fortunately the Co2 that they produce does not exist, as they are under water and that means that it does not count, Co2 is like whiskey I need it to suvive. ( and also branch to add to the whiskey)
REPLY: 200,000 ? That number seems very high. What is your source?

Kevin B
April 5, 2008 4:03 pm

I brought this up, (maybe on ClimateAudit), but the pressure on the surface of Venus is 95 bar according to this Wikipedia article, and suggested that the pressure alone would lead to a substantial increase in temperature.
Never mind that the clouds of sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid reflect over 90% of the solar energy hitting the planet and presumably keep a lot of the energy in. Then there’s the 100m/s winds that spread the heat from the day to the night side.
There is a level in Venus’ atmosphere where the pressure is 1 bar and the temperature is remarkably earthlike despite being 95% CO2.
Yes, Venus is a very different planet.

Kevin B
April 5, 2008 4:07 pm

As to ‘who started it’, I remember Maggie Thatcher being blamed for the deed, and her motive was to undermine the Mineworkers union.
Poor old coal. You drive the industrial revolution for a few hundred years, then everyone turns against you.
Wel, not everyone. The Chinese still love you.

April 5, 2008 5:34 pm

Re 04
Since there is any amount of plant fossils in coal, and we can see every stage in the process that turns peat into coal in action today I suggest that anyone who doubts the biotic origin of coal is seriously nuts.
The biotic origin of oil is not quite so obvious, but pretty compelling nevertheless.

April 5, 2008 6:00 pm

The “rounded” and “peaked” patterns in the solar cycle sound like cosmic ray flux. Are you sure Svalgaard said that of TSI? As for cosmic ray flux, you can see the alternating pattern clearly here:
Note, too, that cosmic ray flux is anti-correlated, or just about 180 degrees out of phase, with SSN’s. Since we are at the bottom of a solar cycle, we should just be about peaking in cosmic ray flux. Now, remember the pattern we saw with HP filtering, alternating amplitude between even and odd solar cycles? Well, we’re coming out of an odd numbered solar cycle, and into an even one. If the pattern we found holds true, the rate of warming will be less, because this is an even numbered solar cycle.
That’s just a prediction based on the pattern of even/odd solar cycles. If we are also at the end of a 65-70 year climate cycle, driven by ocean influences, then then we’re not talking a reduction in the rate of warming, but actual cooling.

Patrick Henry
April 5, 2008 6:50 pm

Over the last 500 million years, CO2 levels on earth have come down from 7,000 ppm to less than 400 ppm. If a runaway greenhouse was possible on earth, it would happened a long time ago.
Additionally, Venus is much closer to the sun and has a very slow rotation. Afternoons on Venus are more than 1,000 hours long. I wonder how hot Death Valley would get if the sun stayed up high in the sky for 1,500 hours in a row?

Micahel Roonayne
April 5, 2008 7:19 pm

You are all forgetting one small detail. The Earth has a moon which is so large relative to its primary that the Earth-Lunar system is almost a binary planetary system. The Earth we are living on is Earth Mark 2 because Earth Mark 1 was destroyed in a collision with the proto-planet which gave rise to the Earth-Lunar system 4.5 billion years ago. I have a problem with planetary size objects wondering around the Solar system until they eventually impact the Earth Mark 1; perhaps because such theories remind me too much of Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision nonsense.
What I do find plausible is that two planets formed in the Earth’s orbit. Earth Mark 1 and Mars size planet known as Theia, named for the Titan who was mother to the moon goddess Selene. Theia formed at either the Lagrange 4 or Lagrange 5 points of the Earth-Sun system.
Giant impact hypothesis
Lagrangian point
Given a planetary impact of this magnitude the Earth-Lunar system would have some very unusual chemistry compared to Venus or Mars. If the iron cores of Earth Mark 1 and Theia did merge during the impact, this might explain the Earth’s strong magnetic field. The Moon also functions as gyroscope to stabilize the Earth and creates tidal action which to this day is critical for life in to oceans. Venus and Mars both lack significant size moons and there is no evidence of cataclysmic impacts.
The Earth-Lunar system is absolutely unique in the solar system.

Michael Ronayne
April 5, 2008 8:07 pm

Finding the Atomic Energy Commission Ads On Coal In The Early 1970’s
1. What ad agency would the AEC use?
2. What demographic would the AEC focus on?
3. Which magazines and news papers would the fulfill that demographic?
4. Where can we obtain copies of these magazines and news papers?
The one magazine which comes to mind immediately is the National Geographic, which is available at many libraries on a CD-ROM set. To bad I canceled my membership this year after 56 years. NG is nothing but a propaganda rag these days. It was a difficult thing to do because my farther purchased the subscription for me on my tenth birthday and I always thought of him with the arrival of each new issue. For what they have done to science I really hate the environmentalists.
The other strong possibility is the New York Times which is completely searchable online for over the last 150 plus years. In the 1970’s most ad agencies would have been located in New York City I have a subscription through my local library. I will start a search immediately.
Here is the story at on how Margaret Thatcher started the Global Warming scam in 1979. If the AEC ads can be found we could push the date back 7 or 8 years.
Global Warming: How It All Began
REPLY: I looked at Nat Geo a few years back and didn’t see it. I’m thinking Popular Science, Popular Mechanix, other sci/tech mags. They would be interested in convincing tech and policy types back then as the GP really didn’t have much thought on it at the time

Bill in Vigo
April 5, 2008 8:13 pm

I so hope you are wrong. I fear that you are correct. Tho I am not a scientists the hypothesis that you and Anthony have put forward makes good reasoning. I do know that here in Alabama we are emerging from a very serious drought. We are coming out of the drought in a serious manner, we had 3 snow events this winter,( they were all very light and short lived but the first since 2000. Being poor old country folk we burn wood for our serious heating and are already collecting for next winter. Our farmers are in a bad state, if they don’t make a good crop this year it may turn into a lot of foreclosures. Not a good thing. My concern is,
1 that if the climate cools and the “normal” crops are weakened and don’t produce as projected what happens.
2 I they remove CO2 from the atmosphere at what level does it begin to serioulsy effect the growth of plants. If to much now food becomes a problem and if more of the grain crop is taken for bio fuels the food problem is exacerbated.(starvation ensues) How much food supply in months is stored for emergency use, and who will decide who is fed?
3 How long before the warmers decide that it is to cold. Will they even notice from their carbon credit protected use of carbon (CO2 producing) fuels.
I just don’t like the way this is shaping up and I wonder how many will suffer because of the way this debate is being moderated. (I use the term loosely) I firmly believe we are in trouble.

April 5, 2008 8:42 pm

Basil, yes, Leif has corrected me. It is rounded and peaked maxima of cosmic rays. Any idea why one solar cycle has a correlation between clouds and cosmic rays, and the next not, or even if that is true?
Jeff A. I think High clouds are supposed to cool the earth and low ones heat it, but I’m not sure anyone knows for sure. The effect is probably different from night to day also. For sure, we don’t understand clouds. Now, my couplet again, for those who are not thoroughly sick of it.
I think I’ve never heard so loud
The quiet message in a cloud.

anna v
April 5, 2008 9:27 pm

underwater volcanoes:
” The true extent to which the ocean bed is dotted with volcanoes has been revealed by researchers who have counted 201,055 underwater cones. This is over 10 times more than have been found before.
The team estimates that in total there could be about 3 million submarine volcanoes, 39,000 of which rise more than 1000 metres over the sea bed.”
Also on CO2 from volcanic activity:
“Super volcanoes such as Toba, Yellowstone, and Taupo have been the worst offenders. Just one volcano alone, Milos (Greece), produces 2% of the Earth’s CO2 atmospheric levels from a hot spring the size of a table”, according to Plimer. “

Fred Middleton
April 6, 2008 6:45 am

What an interesting read. How have the scientists (some anyway that are in power -government) become so subjective? Was there ever a peer review-debunking or validation of some of this 1950-1970’s articles like Teller, Weart or James Hansen? Or is this work still valid today?
Carl Sagan captivated most young 15-30 via TV, in that era. Listening and talk-back to SPACE seemed then very noble (Sagan’s big sales job). Science Fiction mentality became the snake-oil.
Fission–fusion should be the “today’s debate” concerning energy insead of current AGW solutions.
Biotic or abiotic coal/oil and profuse vegetation growth that would be necessary seem connected. A recent (HIST channel) presentation of the ” Tunguska Event” Siberian explosion in 1908, one of the 160 THERIOES, is the “dirt rock full of carbon fertilizer” asteroid (not an iron meteorite or comet) created the explosion that post vegetation recovery analysis (tree ring) showed significant carbon fertilizing of the area.
And perhaps the notion that Thugs-warlords-kings-dictators all have used in past the same tool-of-control in controlling people – RESOURCES. Control their food, the masses jump into line. Here we are a few months away from a National election, and the current “3” all claim AGW empirical??

anna v
April 6, 2008 6:49 am

on the biotic and abiotic question of oil and carbon, some answers may be here:
“Saturn’s smoggy moon Titan has hundreds of times more natural gas and other liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, scientists said today.”
“The hydrocarbons rain from the sky on the miserable moon, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes. This much was known. But now the stuff has been quantified using observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.”
“Titan is just covered in carbon-bearing material — it’s a giant factory of organic chemicals,” said Ralph Lorenz, a Cassini radar team member from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. “This vast carbon inventory is an important window into the geology and climate history of Titan.”

April 6, 2008 8:01 am

I looked through all the issues of Time Magazine from 1970 to 1980, and didn’t see any showing a lump of coal on the cover.
REPLY: You wouldn’t, its an advertisement, not a feature.

April 6, 2008 9:22 am

In searching for the ad Mr Watts mentions, I did find this:
A comic book distributed to nuclear power plant visitors.
REPLY: Interesting, that comic book has two frames with a lump of coal in close foreground and the nuclear power plant off in the distance. The frame “THE END” seems to suggest “the end” of coal.
Thanks for sharing.

April 6, 2008 9:39 am

Also, in 1978 there was a coal strike and the nuclear power industry played up the fact that nuclear power was immune to miners striking according to the Washington Post archives. There was apparently a marketing push by the nuclear power industry at that time so that may be the time frame when you saw that ad:

The nuclear power industry has seized upon the coal strikes as a way of promoting its own accomplishments. Advertisements, press releases and reports are selling the idea that, as the Virginia Electric and Power Co. put it, ‘a lot of people who were cold to the idea of nuclear power are warming up to it now.”

REPLY: I remember the coal strike well, but I seem to recall the ads prior to that. Of course they all stopped abruptly with Three Mile Island on March 28, 1979.

Pierre Gosselin (aka AGWscoffer)
April 6, 2008 9:53 am
April 6, 2008 11:12 am

Just a little note, it snowed in the UK on the 5th/ 6th of april 2008, with sheet ice coating the motorways.
I know its not part of this topic but interesting.

Alan Chappell
April 6, 2008 11:52 am

Anna V.
Thank you, you got it before me ( underwater volcanoes) I have had a more than an interest in the subject since the late 1970s.
I was ‘ crew’ on an yacht in a race from New Zealand to Australia and it was noticed that the sea water temp. had increased. The depth sounder stopped measuring at 2 miles, ( how deep it was there I do not know,) but a temp. increase of 18c was the difference at its highest point, we calculated that the disturbed water could well have been in excess of 25 miles in diameter, I have on many occasions when talking to ships Engineers ask then if they have encountered this, as seawater cools the engines, they would be the first to know. It is by their accounts a quite common occurrence, I was later transfered to southern Italy and that is where my interest became more than a hobby as it is possible to take a boat and ‘float’ over a volcano.

David Walton
April 6, 2008 1:13 pm

I believe I saw that ad in Scientific American, so you might look there.
It also may have appeared in Physics Today.
REPLY: Thanks David, I read Sci Am a lot in the 70’s, before they became politicized as they are today, so that’s a good bet.

April 6, 2008 2:43 pm

How about Omni magazine light science and science fiction published from 1978 to 1995?

April 6, 2008 4:10 pm

Teller’s name is a four letter word in Los Alamos because of the Atomic Energy Commission testimony he gave about Robert Openheimer. Many up on the Hill (LANL) think that he took credit for a lot of Stanislaw Ulam’s work in the thermonuclear weapon design (even though the design is called the Teller-Ulam concept).
I am a nuclear engineer and I think it is disgraceful that the nuclear industry would use AGW as a reason for power. Hitching the nuclear wagon to junk science could do more damage to the industry’s credibility than Three Mile Island.

April 6, 2008 5:31 pm

I remember the British Astronomer Fred Hoyle put it about that the oil and coal were not buried organic matter but came from deep inside the earths mantle. I found this link to a physist called Gold who started this theory.
QUOTE : “Gold still argues passionately for his “abiogenic” (not biological in origin) theory of oil. In the 1980s he persuaded researchers in Sweden to drill a hole some 6 kilometers deep into solid granite – a rock that crystallizes out of molten lava deep within the Earth, and thus should not contain any organic remains – and succeeded in finding some oil. This didn’t convince the geology community, which felt that the oil must have gotten into the granite through cracks. But Gold took it as a vindication.”
Does anyone know did anyone take this idea seriously and has it been completely rejected now? I suppose just to recall such heretical ideas is enough to get a free lifetime membership in the flat Earth Society.
There is lots of life in the deep ocean trenches, could that organic matter get buried under the continental shelves?

Evan Jones
April 6, 2008 5:38 pm

I did a bunch of searches, but I couldn’t find it.
I managed to come up with a 1985 (sic) copy of Soviet Life that claimed that Soviet nuclear power was so safe that the Chernobyl plant would be perfectly safe if located in downtown Moscow . . .

Micahel Roonayne
April 6, 2008 5:44 pm

The biogenic vs. abiogenic debate over fossil fuels for some time now. In the case of coal there is no debate; coal is biogenic in origin and has a strong carbon-12 signature not to mention fossilized plant remains. In the case of oil and natural gas the issues are more complex with most scientists favoring the biogenic theory because of the strong carbon-12 and weak carbon-13 signatures found in most oil and natural gas deposits.
In the days of the Cold War, Pravda ( the official news source of the Russian Communist Party would periodically run stories denouncing the biogenic theory of oil as a Capitalist plot to drive up world oil prices. To prove their case Pravda would sight the work of Russian scientists who found small deposits of oil with an enrich carbon-13 signatures. To this day American oil companies are allow to take depreciating allowances predicated on the assumption that oil is a finite resource and that the value of an oil field depreciates as the oil is extracted.
Abiogenic Petroleum Origin
After the collapse of the Soviet Union the abiogenic theory was kept alive by the book The Deep Hot Biosphere by Thomas Gold in 1999. Things remained unchanged until February 2008 when the discovery of active sources for abiogenic hydrocarbons was announced in Science.
Science 1 February 2008:
Vol. 319. no. 5863, pp. 604 – 607
Abiogenic Hydrocarbon Production at Lost City Hydrothermal Field
Giora Proskurowski, Marvin D. Lilley, Jeffery S. Seewald, Gretchen L. Früh-Green, Eric J. Olson, John E. Lupton, Sean P. Sylva, Deborah S. Kelley
Low-molecular-weight hydrocarbons in natural hydrothermal fluids have been attributed to abiogenic production by Fischer-Tropsch type (FTT) reactions, although clear evidence for such a process has been elusive. Here, we present concentration, and stable and radiocarbon isotope, data from hydrocarbons dissolved in hydrogen-rich fluids venting at the ultramafic-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field. A distinct “inverse” trend in the stable carbon and hydrogen isotopic composition of C1 to C4 hydrocarbons is compatible with FTT genesis. Radiocarbon evidence rules out seawater bicarbonate as the carbon source for FTT reactions, suggesting that a mantle-derived inorganic carbon source is leached from the host rocks. Our findings illustrate that the abiotic synthesis of hydrocarbons in nature may occur in the presence of ultramafic rocks, water, and moderate amounts of heat.
If the process described in Science is a source for abiogenic hydrocarbons, the next problem is to describe the process by which carbon-12 is enriched in these hydrocarbons resulting in carbon-13 depletion. One possible candidate is the thermophile bacteria proposed by Thomas Gold. Obviously addition research is required but the debate is becoming quite lively again.
For additional information see the following:
Lost City (hydrothermal field)
Google: abiogenic “Lost City”
Today the biogenic theory is championed by the left and abiogenic theory by the right. Abiogenic hydrocarbons are Al Gore’s worse nightmare.
Perhapse you don’t have a dinosaur in your gas tank after all! You just can’t trust the ads from BIG OIL.
p.s. The Lost City waypoint is: Lost City Hydrothermal Field (30° 7’0.00″N, 42° 7’0.00″W)

Michael Ronayne
April 6, 2008 7:20 pm

The New York Times has all of their content indexed and searchable but I did not find the AEC ad on coal or any related news report.
Indexes of Scientific American are on line since 1974 but only the stories were indexed and none of the ads.
I will keep looking.

Larry Sheldon
April 6, 2008 7:45 pm

I don’t thing National Geographic had advertizing in the AEC days.
Life, Saturday Evening Post, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, Field and Stream, and others of that ilk are possible.
How about a contact at NRC?

Larry Sheldon
April 6, 2008 7:55 pm
Has a mention of a lump being a prop in a speech.
Wonder why I always type “thing” wen I mean “think”.

Jeff Alberts
April 6, 2008 9:30 pm

I managed to come up with a 1985 (sic) copy of Soviet Life that claimed that Soviet nuclear power was so safe that the Chernobyl plant would be perfectly safe if located in downtown Moscow . . .

And it would have been, if proper procedures had been observed. Chernobyl was a human failure, not a technical one.

Jeff Alberts
April 6, 2008 9:32 pm

I don’t see any reason why oil AND coal can’t be both Abiogenic and biogenic. For anyone to say we know all the possible ways coal becomes coal and oil becomes oil would be a charlatan.

Patrick Henry
April 6, 2008 10:06 pm

Hi Jeff Alberts,
If you look at coal under the microscope, you can almost always see evidence of plant fossils.

Mike Graebner
April 7, 2008 4:10 am

How about methane hydrates on the ocean floor. What causes their formation?

April 7, 2008 6:32 am

Jeff said “ALL POSSIBLE ways”.
Patrick said: “ALMOST ALWAYS see”.
Don’t these to comments complement each other?

Tony Edwards
April 7, 2008 7:22 am

Micahel Roonayne (19:19:40)
There is another aspect to the Earth/Moon system, which was pointed out by, I think, Isaac Azimov, in an article published many years ago. First aspect of the oddity is that the gravitational attraction between the Sun and the Moon is almost four times greater than the attraction between the Earth and the Moon, while the reverse is true for all other satellites. The second is that while every other satellite in the Solar System has an orbit around the Sun that has, for almost half of the time, a negative radius of curvature relative to the Sun. On the other hand, the Moon’s orbit round the Sun has a varying radius of curvature, which is always positive. In other words, Azimov’s postulate was that we do not have a satellite, but a sister planet.
Just thought you might be interested in this little oddity.

Jeff Alberts
April 7, 2008 7:35 am

Thanks, Patrick. It’s the “almost” that gets me. And if you find fossils of trilobites in shale does that mean the shale was created by them?

April 7, 2008 7:37 am

The same suggestion has been made about Mrs Thatcher – viz he pushed the global warming scam so as to make us go nuclear & thus not dependent on the miner’s union. There may be some truth to these but I doubt if they were as powerful as they are now being played.
Also it should not be forgotten that, irrespective of CO2, coal IS a dirty polluting industry which does kill people.

April 7, 2008 8:07 am

I found this link about abiotic oil the most interesting
it contains files of studies made in the USSR in the fifties and contains something looking like real science.
There is also material showing that Thomas Gold plagiated a lot of his material from the Russian and Ukrainian scientists.

Michael Ronayne
April 7, 2008 8:21 am

No lump of coal yet but Tricky Dickey may be responsible for the AGW scan. This article gives us dates.
by: Alice L. Buck
July 1983
The Breeder Reactor
In addition to predicting dramatic increases in megawatt capacity, the Commission’s 1967 report on civilian nuclear power reaffirmed the promise of the breeder reactor for meeting long-term energy needs, and gave the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor (LMFBR) the highest priority for civilian reactor development. A major boost was given to the program four years later by President Richard Nixon. In his “clean energy” message to Congress on June 4, 1971, the President called for the commercial demonstration of a breeder reactor by 1980, stating that “The breeder reactor could extend the life of our natural uranium fuel supply from decades to centuries, with far less impact on the environment than the power plants which are operating today.“
James R. Schlesinger took over the helm of the Atomic Energy Commission in August 1971, as its twenty-fifth year as an agency was drawing to a close. American troops were still in Vietnam and anti-war protests were widespread. The Nation faced increasing demands for energy, a leveling out of domestic oil production, limitations on coal use due to environmental concerns, inadequate natural gas supplies, and field delays in the licensing and construction of nuclear power plants. The rapid growth in atomic energy activities in the previous decade and changing perspectives in nuclear technology clearly pointed to the need for a substantial reorganization of the Commission’s operational and regulatory functions. For nearly a quarter of a century the Commission had focused research and development toward responding to national defense requirements, funding and developing new uses for atomic energy, and fostering the growth of a competitive and viable nuclear industry. The next few years would see increasing attacks on the Commission’s role as a regulatory overseer of the nuclear industry, particularly in the areas of quality of product and public safety.
Calvert Cliffs Decision
The Nixon Administration believed that nuclear power, as an environmentally “clean” fuel, could help the Nation produce the increasing supply of energy needed for the future. On the other hand ponderous licensing procedures – and increasing environmental considerations lengthened the time necessary to bring nuclear power plants on line, and increased costs to the industry, and ultimately to the consumer. As Commissioner Doub informed the Atomic Industrial Forum in October 1971, the Commission harbored no illusions as to the magnitude of the task of trying to match “the capabilities of a dynamic and complex technology to the urgent energy and environmental needs of the county.“
The Commission’s Last Days
Schlesinger left the Atomic Energy Commission in January 1973 to become head of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was succeeded as chairman by Dr. Dixy Lee Ray, a marine biologist from the state of Washington who had been appointed to the Commission by President Nixon in August 1972. The first woman to be chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Ray took over at a time when the Nation was faced with the monumental task of reconciling energy needs, environmental concerns and economic goals. More importantly for the Commission, criticism had begun to mount against an agency that regulated the very same energy source that it helped to produce and operate.

Evan Jones
April 7, 2008 12:20 pm

And it would have been, if proper procedures had been observed.
Well, yeah.
The damn thing didn’t have a containment vessel. (And if it had, we’d surely never have heard about the whole affair.)
The nukes they built outside the bloc all had containment vessels, but they didn’t bother with at least some of their domestic plants.

Evan Jones
April 7, 2008 12:23 pm

How about methane hydrates on the ocean floor. What causes their formation?
No one ever even mentions that. I assume all the dead matter that sinks, the pressure, etc., etc.
I have a new theory: Peek oil: we find it wherever and whenever we take a peek.

Wondering Aloud
April 7, 2008 1:59 pm

Whoa let’s relax a bit here.
Just because Teller, maybe suggested the idea 35 years ago does not make him an AGW crusader. He was a well known anti hysteria crusader on environmental issues. I am sure he would be amazed that anyone would put him in the category of alarmist. He simply doesn’t fit.
Oppenheimer was obviously very popular in the scientific community, and because Teller was seen as responsible for his downfall, he was much criticized.
It is also very clear that on the merits of the specific case of his testimony Teller was right, Oppenheimer was dangerously wrong, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great guy just wrong about Soviet intentions, infiltration etc.

John M
April 7, 2008 5:07 pm

Sorry I haven’t turned up the ad, but thanks for causing me to go back through some of my old stuff. I have Smithsonians going well back into the 70s and I kept a few of the news weeklys covering Nixon’s impeachment and resignation, so I had a good stash to go through.
As I said, I didn’t do you any good, but it was interesting to read about African drought back then. No whining about global warming, but lots of realistic reporting about the failure of governments to provide the basics for their people. Kind of different.
And oh, I did see one of the possible causes of the drought as being colder ocean temperatures(!). No blaming of mankind, just matter-of-fact comments about changing weather patterns.
REPLY: John, Thanks for the reports!

April 8, 2008 2:45 pm

Neil Craig
Re coal being a dirty polluting industry which does kill people
I would say that it would be more accurate to say that mining is a dirty industry in which accidents sometimes happen, ocassionally fatal.
Certainly in the UK at least mining compares favourably with other dirty industries in which people are killed such as construction and agriculture.
It’s been said above that Chernobyl was a human failure and I would argue that most mining accidents (indeed most accidents full stop) fall into the same category.
If just a fraction of the effort and funding put into the global warming industry had been used to fund “clean coal technology” the problem might have been solved already.
For example compare these two stories:
EUR 71bn windfall profits for EU power companies
EUR 750m Scottish Carbon Capture Project Cancelled
Why bother even “peeking” for oil when there’s massive amounts of completely risk free money to be had?

jep, Kansas USA
April 10, 2008 9:14 am

I thought it was Margaret Thatcher who demonized coal.
The story goes like this: The Iron Lady’s government wanted a energy-independent Britain. Britain has abundant coal, but coal mining is controlled by the unions. Mining more coal meant empowering the unions and the Labor Party. One adviser had an idea: Promote nuclear over coal because the CO2 from coal will lead to global warming.
Remember, the radical environmentalists were very powerful in Europe in those days and nuclear power, whether nuclear plants or nuclear bombs, were both unpopular. The Thatcher government begins to promote nuclear power as earth friendly, but accidentally makes coal and other fossil fuels into villains.
Any truth to that story?

Peter Martin
August 4, 2008 12:55 am

“Any truth to that story?”
Yes, certainly both Ted Heath (in 1973) and Margaret Thatcher (1984-85) had their time of conflict with the British Nation Union of Mineworkers.
At the time, and probably even now, almost all international statesmen were scientifically illiterate, so a scientifically literate politician could gain credibility on a matter which seemed to depend on scientific understandings. Mrs Thatcher had a degree in chemistry and had perhaps read and understood the early papers being written on the subject.
At her personal instigation, the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research was established, and the science and engineering research councils were encouraged to place priority in funding climate-related research. The Hadley Centre sustained its importance and is now the operating agency for the IPCC’s scientific working group .
Was Mrs Thatcher genuinely concerned for the environment or were her motives more cynical and led by her desire to underminine the NUM? I guess the answer would depend on whether or not you are an admirer of Mrs T.

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