Monday, 20 February 2012

What's up with that!

I just heard on the CBC Newsworld about a climate expert saying stuff that don't make much sense to me: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/02/20/oilsands-clean.html A researcher from the University of Victoria, one Andrew Weaver seems to be making claims that will do nothing but be miscontrued and mislead, nay be used to disabuse the bogus science of Harper's regime (excuse the convolution).

In a commentary published Sunday in the prestigious journal Nature, Weaver and colleague Neil Stewart analyze how burning all global stocks of coal, oil and natural gas would affect temperatures. Their analysis breaks out unconventional gas, such as undersea methane hydrates and shale gas produced by fracking, as well as unconventional oil sources including the oilsands.

They found that if all the hydrocarbons in the oilsands were mined and consumed, the carbon dioxide released would raise global temperatures by about .36 C. That's about half the total amount of warming over the last century.

When only commercially viable oilsands deposits are considered, the temperature increase is only .03 C.

In contrast, the paper concludes that burning all the globe's vast coal deposits would create a 15-degree increase in temperature.

The claims seem to rely upon "facts" no one would really consider seriously. For eg: if all the global stocks of coal were burned (whether all at once or 'til it runs out is not clear); that if all the hydrocarbons in the oilsands were mined and consumed, the carbon dioxide released would raise global temperatures by about .36 C. That's about half the total amount of warming over the last century... disengenuiously downplays the potential result of pollution caused by production and refinement (in China, say). This last claim seems to stem from a highly idealized "usable" oil content of the oilsands (potential) rather than the overall cost and energy it takes to produce the oil (real).

Then there are the relative rises in global temprature that do not make any sense: .36 C or .03 C (depending on an addict's level of denial) to natural gas (3 C) and the whopping 15 degree increase for coal. In fact, "Burning all the oil in the world would only raise temperatures by less than one degree, the paper concludes."

This seems not so bad. But it is misleading. The gloabl effects of buring of all fossil fuels is not selective but cumulative regardless of whether the source is natural gas, coal or the oilsands. Beyond any reasonable doubt I can say that all of these sources will be burned and used up if the corporate world has any say about it. Then, poo-pooing one source over another is really quite meaningless.

The CBC website piece, in fact, reports almost as an after-thought:

Weaver's analysis only accounts for emissions from burning the fuel. It doesn't count greenhouse gases released by producing the resource because that would double-count those emissions.

Jay

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