Issue Date: September 5, 2011
Sustaining World Resources
This year, Queensland, Australia, has had flooding rains during autumn and winter. At one stage, the floods in Queensland covered an area equivalent to the whole of France and Germany. I am sure that the reservoirs of Toowoomba have adequate water (C&EN, July 4, page 3).
Australia has experienced 10- and 50-year climatic cycles before and will do so again. In the meantime, the state of Victoria, where seasonal rain normality has resumed, is building an unnecessary multi-billion-dollar desalination plant. As scientists, we should not be swayed by the popular tabloids but rather request some real scientific cause and effect for climate change (previously called global warming, I wonder why it was changed).
To blindly attribute climatic change to a slight increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is not science, but if you have some real evidence rather than that put forward by economists and politicians, please let me have it. It might be better to look at the second law of thermodynamics and give more credence to history and geology.
By Enrico Mocellin
I read the following comment at the Alchemist newsletter from ChemWeb.com, which states, “A shining example of sustainable energy: Manure from millions of cattle, pigs, and chickens can be fed into anaerobic digesters to produce methane for electricity generation. There are about 150 anaerobic digesters in the U.S. alone. However, the power costs about double the average cost of energy from fossil fuels. An alternative energy policy that taxed carbon emissions from fossil fuels could make this renewable energy source more economically viable according to David Zaks of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and colleagues. In addition to replacing fossil fuels, the digesters would provide the benefit of reducing methane release from manure, Zaks says.”
The problem with David Zaks’s argument on making such renewable energy more economically viable under a carbon emissions tax is that all manure-handling operations, whether equipped with anaerobic digesters or not, would have the burden of very high taxes for any direct or indirect methane releases as a result of methane’s being 24 times more active in global warming than carbon dioxide (C&EN OnlineLatest News, July 21). Rather than subsidize anaerobic digesters that produce methane for electricity generation, I would rather eat less meat. I wonder how that sits with the animal farming industry.
By Bill Juris
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