Friday Funny Bonus: blinkered @greenpeace activists can't tell the difference between steam and CO2

From the “cooling towers are evil fossil fuel icons” department and the mind of Greenpeace comes this hilariously funny (and stupid) tweet. It demonstrates the usual m.o. of Greenpeace these days, blind uneducated vandalism in the name of a cause. Mind you, this isn’t some rogue splinter faction of Greenpeace putting out this photo, it’s the central office.


What these bozo activists don’t seem to understand (along with many journalists that make the same mistake) is that cooling towers emit clouds of steam and water vapor, not carbon dioxide. Even the highly liberal ABC in Australia gets this:


Rightfully, the Galileo movement helpfully fixed the billboard for the Greenpeacers  in a followup Tweet:


This is obviously a Photoshop job, but wouldn’t it be great if we could identify where this vandalized billboard is at, and have somebody fix it for real?


117 thoughts on “Friday Funny Bonus: blinkered @greenpeace activists can't tell the difference between steam and CO2

  1. Water vapor is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So maybe this is a climate crime /sarc.

      • Hydroxylic acid is particularly dangerous. It will dissolve any known substance, and is particularly dangerous to structural materials such as steel. It is especially hazardous when it comes into contact with any electrical equipment – and our modern society is increasingly dependent on such technology for its very survival. Historically, sudden, spontaneous, uncontrolled releases of this potent chemical have been known to produce death tolls well into six figures.
        It is a major scandal that this practically ubiquitous substance is readily available to untrained members of the public and it is essential that it should be tightly controlled or even banned as soon as possible.

      • When you live in or around Portland, Oregon, you learn not to make jokes like that. Because they’ll do it. It’s utterly amazing how last year’s absurdity becomes today’s mandate.

      • Terrible stuff – there is no safe harbour -In large quantities it will render you incapable of respirating. In small quantities it destroys even the very best scotch.

      • Portland Oregon — Where they banned paper supermarket bags to save the trees mandating only plastic bags could be used — and then two years banned plastic bags to save the climate mandating that only paper bags could be used. An election cycle here merely changes the specific type of nuts who run things — but the generic level of nuttiness always remains the same.
        Eugene WR Gallun.

      • Politicians don’t want to ban CO2, they want to tax it.
        And they would certainly tax liquid water, and water vapor as well if they thought they could get away with it.

  2. If we’re schooling Greenpeace in scientific accuracy, let’s get it right. It’s not steam, it’s water vapor. Steam is invisible.

      • Perhaps a better repair to the defaced sign would be another sign stating “Hate Crime” with an arrow pointing at the climate crime meme. This is, after all, what this sign really is!

      • Mie scattering actually. Best described by the even and odd orders of Riccati-Bessel functions if I remember by physics.

    • If we’re schooling Greenpeace in scientific accuracy, let’s get it right. It’s not steam, it’s water vapor. Steam is invisible.

      Well, if we’re going to get it right, let’s get it right , right?
      Steam IS water vapour, hence both are invisible. The white fluffy stuff is liquid water droplets.
      Now since the Greenpeace poster just points an arrow at the structure behind it and does not say “whilte fluffy stuff is a climate crime” no one is going to get very far being smart about scientific accuracy ( especially if they don’t know what steam is ).
      At least this is not usual visual lie of cooling tower shot at sunset and photoshopped to make the white fluffy stuff look black and “dirty”.
      In order to criticise this campaign you’d need to be able to say where the climate “wierding” CO2 is being emitted from. I think you’ll find it is coming out of the same hole as your “steam”.

      • The stacks that release the CO2 are the tall skinny ones, usually located within a few hundred feet of the cooling towers, but they are definitely separate from the cooling towers.

      • Dahlquist,
        Hard to say from the shot if it is a nuclear power plant. Some conventional plants have the same sort of cooling tower.
        But many see these and assume they are the reactor buildings.
        Of course, the reactor building is typically a squat and nondescript concrete structure nearby. The reactor building itself has no stacks, except for some vents.

  3. A slight correction — that isn’t steam coming out of the cooling tower stack, it is condensate.

  4. Their stupidity knows no bounds. CO2 is a colourless odourless gas. Water vapour is a colourless, odourless gas that condenses in the air into tiny droplets, called steam,that refract light and are therefore visible, but still odourless, steam dissipates relatively quickly due to the relatively large surface area/volume ratio allowing evaporation and return to water vapour . Smoke is not colourless, smells to high heaven and takes a long time to dissipate. This is not science, it is observation and understanding of physical processes, dispassionately. Greenpeace lost the knack of doing that years ago!

    • Water droplets are NOT steam. They’re water droplets. Steam is above ambient temperature by 140F, more or less. After release, as it cools, water droplets appear. What you see coming out of a cooling tower is clouds, a mixture of water vapor and water droplets.

      • Jeez…seriously people?? FYI – there are three (3) types of steam;
        1) Saturated Steam (dry)
        2) Unsaturated Steam (wet)
        3) Superheated Steam
        These pictures are examples of Saturated Steam. Also things like steam from a pot of non-boiling water, ‘sea smoke’, breath vapors on cold days & clouds, etc. In essence, water condensing from a gas to a liquid in a mist-like form…also known as ‘flash steam’.
        Unsaturated & Superheated Steams are water vapor boiled under pressure at temperatures above 212F (sea level).

      • Jorgekafkazar is correct, I operated cooling towers when I worked in a power plant. Cooling towers become necessary when the natural source of condenser cooling water becomes too warm or is not available with sufficient volume to maintain turbine outlet vacuum. They are mainly used when rivers or lakes are unavailable or too small to handle the thermal impact of the effluent. Nuclear installations must use a closed system to contain possible radiation excursion so cooling towers are most often associated with them.
        These clowns could have taken pictures of cooling tower fog on any cool morning, on the rooftops of their local buildings that use water cooled condensers for refrigerators and chillers.
        The University at which I worked most of my career tried using a cooling tower to air-cool the campus chilled water loop, but humidity levels made it impractical most of the summer and it began to get colder in winter than the engineers had predicted, so it wasn’t cost effective to maintain for so few productive hours of operation.
        They had gambled that winters would be above freezing enough to save us the power the absorbers and chillers used. Instead we got more sub-freezing weather and increased maintenance. So failed alarmist predictions cost the taxpayers oodles and gobs on public education infrastructure mistakes.

      • Actually, the reason you see so much fog from an hour-glass shaped tower is the increase of turbulence from the design. Turbulent air can hold more of anything, including fuel in a boiler burner. I have an aftermarket device in my diesel truck to do it at the primary turbo intake.

    • Holy cow! Look at all the CO2 being emitted by those geothermal plants! I thought those were supposed to be clean.
      You can’t trust anybody any more.

    • Are they that stupid? Surely not all of them are that stupid. If I am correct, then they are deliberately disseminating false information. Isn’t there some kind of law against that? Maybe not.

  5. Steam in itself is invisible, water vapour in itself is invisible. What one see’s is condensate, water droplets mixed in with the steam or water vapour as these condense.

    • Technically, what one sees is the particulate condensed phase, as you indicate. The term condensate, however, is used in industry to indicate any liquid phase resulting from cooling of a vapor. The most common “condensate” is the liquid water phase formed within steam-heating systems. Cooling towers do not emit steam–the temperatures are close to ambient.

      • Not really.
        Air at normal temperatures CAN and does contain water vapour, just not very much of it. What is rising from the cooling tower is a mixture of water droplets entrained in rising air and water vapour. In fact the loss of heat due to the evaporation process is a major factor in the efficiency of the cooling tower.
        We don’t normally regard atmospheric water vapour as steam because its relatively cool but even steam contains water in the liquid phase. The reality is unless it is superheated, steam from a boiler is mix of the gaseous and liquid phases of water.
        While the water coming out of a steam condenser is indeed condensate the phrase is more commonly used for liquids separated in distillation.

      • The same fog comes off the surface of the water at the circulating water outlets of a riverside steam cycle power plant on a cool still morning or evening. I wish I had a picture to post of the huge cloud on the river and seemingly small cloud of steam from the scrubber outlet of our nearby coal plant on a still winter morning.

  6. (Some sarc here) It’s worse than the other commenters mentioned. Dihydrogen monoxide is the reaction product of mixing hydroxylic ACID with a base hydrogen hydroxide. Also, exhaled breath contains potent greenhouse gas water vapor in addition to “carbon”.
    Sent from my iPhone

    • It’s worse than the other commenters mentioned. Dihydrogen monoxide is the reaction product of mixing hydroxylic ACID with a base hydrogen hydroxide.

      Good lord, Mr. Jordan!!! EVERYBODY PANIC!!!!!!!

      • Be sure to wear eye protection when you mix acids and bases…. IIRC, it’s better to add the acid to the base, but I recommend diluting both with water.

    • No carbon, as such, in exhaled breathe.
      Any more than the stuff I sprinkle on my food is chlorine and sodium.

  7. Greensleaze are the true climate criminals, commiting vandalism and other acts in the name of the climate.

  8. Was that message written on parchment peeled from a birch tree? Uh, no, it looks like something that was manufactured using energy. Did the energy come from a wind turbine? Only 5% probability of that happening. How about the ink or paint used? Was it squeezed from some fruit or other source of colourant? Not likely. My guess is that we’re looking at something like a water-based latex. But hey! The end justifies the means, doesn’t it?

  9. It’s actually not hard to find that location. The Tweet has a short URL which goes to a newspaper article. The caption on the image says “Climate change activists’ graffiti on a billboard near the Didcot coal-fired power station in Oxfordshire, UK.”

      • Problem is the coal fired station at Didcot was closed sometime ago and the cooling tower in the picture was demolished. The only working unit is highly efficient modern combined cycle gas turbine station that uses smaller fan assisted units.
        Dumb twice over it seems.

      • I was working at Chilton , looking down on Didcot when power stations A and B were still working and they were laying the foundations for the Diamond Synchrotron.
        A red kite drifted over from the Ridgeway, circled around above the circular track of Diamond , then , having given its approval , moved over to the plume from one of the cooling towers , soared in and out of the plume , getting higher and higher until it disappeared from view . No choking or spluttering as far as i could see, just a kite (lazy bird, likes others to do its work for it , loves roadkill) enjoying the last days of the fossil fuel era.

  10. That “colorless odorless” condensate is really dihydrogen monoxide!!! How can you be so callous? Think of the children!

  11. Well someone near Oxfordshire needs to ride a bicycle over there, gently take samples so we can analyse the paint for toxins, get tire and shoe molds from iprints in the dirt near the sign so we can determine the carbon “footprints” made by the transportation they used and whether their footwear was made with fossil fuels, and check for any vegetation damage done that could have occured while painting was done. Then, carefully correct the sign using organic paint without disturbing the already fragile ecosystem there, and report.
    I’ll find a couple of grad students, an art professor and some psychologists who can write a scathing manuscript about the findings to submit for peer review.

  12. Taking a stab at comedy…
    This is not pollution, Greenpeace, This is the industry’s effort to increase the albedo of the planet in order to counteract the rising CO2. Man made clouds, just like some informed scientist on your side demanded we do. Just give it time…

  13. This is not humorous, it is propaganda! The Activists who made that sign know full well that its a lie, but they are going to keep repeating it until it becomes ‘truth’. Just like using the ‘carbon’ instead of ‘CO2’, etc. They are not stupid, they are very clever at using propaganda and disinformation. Skeptics are stupid if they think this is funny – it’s deadly serious.

  14. For the hard core Greens any power generation not is no renewable is a ‘climate crime ‘ for they know that a renewable only approach is the way to return to their mythical ‘ideal ‘ past, full of simply country folk and 101 mad , bad and rubbish ideas that in no way reflect the hard, grim and often short lives which was the reality of the ‘rural ideal’ they wish to return to.

    • we could send then to a sugar plantation on an island in the Caribbean, they can eat second grade salted cod for protein, oh wait, that’s been tried before.

  15. From the “cooling towers are evil fossil fuel icons” department and the mind of Greenpeace comes this hilariously funny (and stupid) tweet.

    These towers are nuclear icons. (*)
    So they have to emit nuclear “radiations” (*).
    And in the Simpsons they can acid rains (**).
    (*) It’s annoying that not all nuclear plants have them.
    (**) Radionuclides is a word too complicated for children and Greenpiss activists, distinction between radiations and radionuclides gives them headaches. And “radiated water” leaks from Fukushima Daiichi. I like “radiated” water.
    (***) I think Burns’ plant is a representation of every polluting power plant or industry. TV entertainment doesn’t need to always be perfectly accurate, but some Grauniad commenters like to argue “based on the legal knowledge I got watching TV shows”… Some people think TV is reality. (****)
    (****) See how these “footnotes” make my comment so serious and sciency?

  16. Didn’t Penn & Teller do a show where they convinced environmental activists sign a petition to ban water (they used the chemical name instead of H2O or water)? Maybe we can get the same ones to ban the steam coming out of this administration.

    • Yes, they did. I’ve mentioned this before here, but for the last five years or so when I was teaching a college essay-writing class I had a “guest speaker” (a friend of mine) come in half-way through the semester and give a lecture on the dangers of DHMO, after which he would give the class a petition to sign banning all foods prepared with DHMO from municipal properties. During that entire time only two students didn’t sign it (one because she didn’t think it would do any good, the other because she didn’t think I would actually allow a petition to be sent around in my class — which she was right about). Afterwards my friend and I would reveal what DHMO really was and then I would rail at the students for daring to sign a petition restricting other people’s choices based solely on the “information” presented by one person.

  17. jones,
    It’s probably just a coincidence that those pics are always taken with the sun behind the clouds of steam. They wouldn’t really want the clouds to look black, would they?

    • “They wouldn’t really want the clouds to look black, would they?”
      Ooooh yes…The blacker the better….

  18. Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, the generation of steam requires heat input. The fact that they have the stack means they had a boiler.
    Now we know the Greenpeace group isn’t the most scientifically knowledgeable, and are downright illiterate when it comes to engineering, so they chose the wrong stack to photograph.
    However, I call the “Fallacy Fallacy”. Simply because your opponent commits a fallacy does not mean they are wrong, so this line of mockery is not valid. It’s amusing, but it’s not reason. Please remember that, y’all.

    • Which is why it is marked as a “Friday Funny.” To give the rest of us some comedic relief from the usual fare.

      • I know. I don’t want to stop the mirth, just reign in the elation over what is in reality a minor detail.

    • Hey Ben! “Simply because your opponent commits a fallacy does not mean they are wrong, so this line of mockery is not valid.”
      I would disagree; here’s why. This mockery was not an attempt to show that the warmists are wrong. There are plenty of other articles on this site which demonstrate that. This particular mockery was an attempt to show that the warmists are generally stupid. I think it succeeded.

  19. Ironic to me that in the 1950’s all one had to do was look out the window to see a haze of coal smoke over any small town or big city, it didn’t matter what country. The human race really has cleaned up it’s act and the air and water show it.
    Like every other movement that starts out beneficial, extremists have moved in to push the ecology movement into a frenzy of idealism that has become completely incoherent of reality and science.
    Scientific jargon has very few words which invoke emotion, so it is useless to the campaigners.

    • The most numerous and vocal supporters of this movement are in their 20s or low 30s, and are too young to remember the bad old days. Many are so inoculated that we are going to heck in a handbasket that they actually reject even EPA data that shows that air quality is improving.
      Trust me, that was an infuriating discussion. It was almost as bad as dealing with the Flat Earth Society.

      • I think you are being a bit unfair to we members of the Flat Earth Society.
        If you accept the consensus view that the earth is roughly spherical, how can you ever have a level playing field (LPF)?
        The middle of such a theoretical construction would be nearer the centre of gravity of this proposed sphere than the edges, so if a billiard ball was placed on a perfectly smooth LPF it would roll towards the centre.
        Not what level means on my understanding.

  20. Don’t give the Auustralian ABC too much credit. It only took then 20 years to correct the mistake and only then after many corrections. This is the station that has a science advisor on staff that believews sea level rise will be between 8 stories high to 100m. They also cheered on the Antarctic Ship of Fools that were stranded in ice they predicted wasn’t there.

  21. In Hunter Valley NSW the power company anticipated this by setting up its OWN roadside billboards. These inform the ignorant and greenies (BIRM) that they are emitting clouds of clean water from their cooling towers.

  22. Enjoyable commentary yáll. As pointed out by some, the actual CO2 as said comes out of the tall chimneys but is invisible. The scrubber equipment is so efficient it no longer produces a lot of black smoke like it does in cheap China that has not bothered about clean air until quite recently. The area over a big coal powered station is a no fly zone because any engine that will need oxygen as part of its engine input will suddenly stop because when in full cry there is virtually 100% emission which is oxygen free, so the aircraft would be in trouble, possibly.
    Emission might be able to be photographed with an infra red camera at night. I would show a big inverted cone.
    In Oz this minute comparatively would blow out over the vast Pacific Ocean and Southern Ocean, where it would be breathed in by plankton and seagrass which would turn it back into oxygen for us humans to breathe. The Carbon Cycle which we all were shown in out first week in high school biology. Australia produces little CO2 and we also have the biggest set of welcoming lungs on the planet just offshore and onward and out.

  23. During my freshman “Introduction to Engineering” class discussing enthalpy, latent vs. sensible heat and other such topics, the prof took pains to tell us “steam tables” didn’t refer to the stainless steel tubs our cafeteria served its food in.

  24. Just a minor correction on the chemical name of H2O. A chemical is either a “mono” or a “di” (for simplicity), but not both, otherwise they cancel each other out. So I would spring for “di-hydrogen oxide”.

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