Why we must oppose transition to gas-fired power

"These estimates translate to a climate genocide involving the deaths of 10 billion people this century..."
There is an overwhelming global scientific consensus that global warming is real, man-made and must be urgently addressed, As adjudged from the rhetoric at the disastrous Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010) climate change summits, most world leaders acknowledge the problem. However in practice politicians are still largely committed to disastrous “business as usual†(BAU) policies. Nevertheless most politicians must appear to be “tackling climate change†while in reality playing a BAU game acceptable to huge fossil fuel interests.

One such false, phony, politically disingenuous approach has been the Carbon Trading-based Cap-and-Trade Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) approach. The ETS approach has been variously slammed as (a) empirically ineffective (despite ETS measures carbon dioxide, (CO2) pollution continues to increase remorselessly and indeed man-made global warming has been described by top economist Professor Sir Nicholas Stern as “the greatest market failure the world has seenâ€; (2) dangerously counterproductive (we are running out of time, CO2 emissions must cease by 2050 for the World and by 2020 for the US, and there is no point wasting time going down a route already demonstrated to be ineffective); and (3) utterly fraudulent ( the ETS approach has already engendered market manipulation fraud, involves selling licences to pollute that must ultimately be worthless, and fundamentally involves governments selling something they do not have the right to sell, specifically the “right†to pollute the one common atmosphere of all peoples). [1].

A further phony approach that is now being implemented on a massive scale around the world is a coal-to-gas transition on the basis that (1) gas burning for power typically yields half the carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution as coal burning per unit of electrical energy produced and (2) gas burning is associated with greatly lowered carbon particulates, sulphur dioxide (SO2), heavy metals and organics and an 80% reduction in carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (nitrous oxide, N2O, nitrogen dioxide, NO2, and nitric oxide. NO, these being collectively denoted as NOx). However, as set out below, the reality is that gas burning seriously threatens the Planet because (A) Humanity should be urgently decreasing and certainly not increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution; (B) Natural Gas (mainly methane, CH4) is not clean energy greenhouse gas (GHG)-wise; and © Pollutants from gas leakage and gas burning pose a chemical risk to residents, agriculture and the environment.

(A) Australia and the World should be decreasing and not increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.

Both Dr James Lovelock FRS (Gaia hypothesis) and Professor Kevin Anderson ( Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK) have recently estimated that fewer than 1 billion people will survive this century due to unaddressed, man-made global warming – noting that the world population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, these estimates translate to a climate genocide involving deaths of 10 billion people this century, this including 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis. Already 16 million people (about 9.5 million of them under-5 year old infants) die avoidably every year due to deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease – and man-made global warming is already clearly worsening this global avoidable mortality holocaust. However 10 billion avoidable deaths due to global warming this century yields an average annual avoidable death rate of 100 million per year. [2].

Collective, national responsibility for this already commenced Climate Holocaust is in direct proportion to per capita national pollution of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases (GHGs). Indeed, fundamental to any international agreement on national rights to pollute our common atmosphere and oceans should be the belief that “all men are created equalâ€. However reality is otherwise: “annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution†in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent [CO2-e] per person per year†(2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 0.9 (Pakistan), 2.2 (India), less than 3 (many African and Island countries), 3.2 (the Developing World), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 16 (the Developed World), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included). [2].

However expansion of Australia’s exported GHG pollution is occurring through increasing black coal, liquid natural gas (LNG) and dried brown coal exports and increased pollution domestically through new fossil fuel power plants (coal and natural gas). Thus exports of brown coal from Victoria to Asia are expected to reach 20 million tonnes [Mt] per year (74 million tonnes CO2-e). [3].

If this is achieved by 2020 then Australia's Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution in 2020 will be 1245 Mt + 74 Mt = 1319 Mt CO2-e = 149% of that in 2000. The Australia Federal Government’s derisory pledge of “5% off 2000 level by 2020†in actual reality seems likely to be about “150% of 2000 level by 2020â€. [4].

Based on UN Population Division population projections, Australia’s 2020 annual per capita Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution is accordingly projected to reach 1319 Mt CO2-e / 23.4 million people = 56 tonnes CO2-e per person per year, 62 times that of Bangladesh, a densely populated country acutely threatened by inundation from mainly First World-imposed GHG pollution. [4].

Leading climate scientist Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber CBE (Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research [PIK], Germany and variously associated with the University of Manchester, University of East Anglia and Oxford University) has estimated that for a 67% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2 degree Centigrade temperature rise (the EU target; would you board a plane if it had a 33% chance of crashing?) the World has to cease CO2 emissions by 2050. “All man are created equal†means that all human beings must be allotted equal shares of CO2 pollution until 2050. This means that high per capita countries such as the US and Australia must reach zero CO2 emissions by 2020 while low per capita emitters (e.g. India and Burkina Faso) can increase their emissions until finally reaching zero emissions by 2050. [5].

It must be noted that other leading climate scientists have reached similar conclusions about the urgency of achieving zero emissions. Thus Dr Vicky Pope (Head of Climate Change Advice, UK Met Office Hadley Centre):

“Latest climate projections from the Met Office Hadley Centre show the possible range of temperature rises, depending on what action is taken to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions. Even with large and early cuts in emissions, the indications are that temperatures are likely to rise to around 2 °C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. If action is delayed or not quick enough, there is a large risk of much bigger increases in temperature, with some severe impacts. In a worst-case scenario, where no action is taken to check the rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures would most likely rise by more than 5 °C by the end of the century. This would lead to significant risks of severe and irreversible impacts. In the most optimistic scenario, action to reduce emissions would need to start in 2010 and reach a rapid and sustained rate of decline of 3 per cent every year. Even then there would still only be a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rises below around 2°C. This contrasts sharply with current trends, where the world’s overall emissions are currently increasing at 1 per cent every year.†[6].

Similarly, Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK):

“According to the analysis conducted in this paper, stabilizing at 450 ppmv [carbon dioxide equivalent = CO2-e, atmospheric concentration measured in parts per million by volume] requires, at least, global energy related emissions to peak by 2015, rapidly decline at 6-8% per year between 2020 and 2040, and for full decarbonization sometime soon after 2050 …Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year), it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilization at or below 650 ppmv CO2-e... Ultimately, the latest scientific understanding of climate change allied with current emissions trends and a commitment to “limiting average global temperature increases to below 4oC above pre-industrial levelsâ€, demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda, and the economic characterization of contemporary society.†[7].

Dr James Hansen, (head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, and an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University) has concluded:

“After the ice has gone, would the Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas , and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certaintyâ€. [8].

However, achieving zero CO2 emissions is just the start. Many top climate scientists and biologists state that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration (currently a damaging 392 ppm and increasing at about 2 ppm per annum) must be urgently reduced to about 300 ppm for a safe planet for all peoples and all species. [9].

At current CO2 pollution rates, in about 30 years the atmospheric CO2 concentration will reach 450 ppm, a level at which the Great Barrier Reef coral and indeed most coral around the World is doomed from the dual effects of warming and ocean acidification. [10].

The message from science is unequivocal. High per capita GHG polluter Australia is obliged top cease CO2 pollution by 2020. Accordingly any further expansion of Australian Domestic or Exported GHG pollution is absolutely contra-indicated.

A key part of achieving 100% cessation of CO2 pollution by 2020 is installation of 100% renewable energy. Professor Peter Seligman (bionic ear electrical engineer. University of Melbourne) has published a book, “Australian Sustainable Energy- By the Numbersâ€, setting out how Australia can get 100% renewable energy by 2030 at a cost $253 billion, his scheme involving a mix of wind, concentrated solar thermal and other technologies with hydrological energy storage for 24/7 baseload operation. [11].

An Australian engineering team called Beyond Zero Emissions has released its 5 year study on Zero Carbon Australia by 2020 (ZCA2020) Report) that shows how Australia can have 100% renewable energy by 2020 for $370 billion using renewable technologies of wind power and concentrated solar thermal with molten salts energy storage for 24/7, baseload operation. [12].

Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, California, and Mark A. Delucchi of University of California Davis have produced a plan for 100% renewable energy plan for the whole world by 2020. [13].

Unfortunately the clear message from top scientists is being ignored because of the lobbying power of “business as usual†and fossil fuel vested interests. Dr James Hansen in answer to the question “Is there any real chance of averting the climate crisis?â€, has stated: “Absolutely. It is possible – if we give politicians a cold, hard slap in the face. The fraudulence of the Copenhagen approach – "goals" for emission reductions, "offsets" that render ironclad goals almost meaningless, the ineffectual "cap-and-trade" mechanism – must be exposed. We must rebel against such politics as usual.†[14].

Gas (mainly methane) is not clean energy greenhouse gas (GHG)-wise.

The Australian Labor Government and the natural gas industry are utterly incorrect in their repeated assertion that “natural gas is clean energyâ€. However this untruth remains formally uncorrected and is now spreading through society, through media and even into the environment movement. [15].

The truth is otherwise – natural gas is dirty energy and on combustion is twice as carbon dioxide (CO2) polluting as brown coal on a weight basis. Further, in Victoria the carbon pollution currently ranges from 1.2-1.5 tonnes C/MWh for major brown coal plants and 0.6-0.9 tonnes C/MWh for major gas-fired plants – gas may be “clean-er†on this basis but is certainly not “cleanâ€. [16].

However even the asserted “clean-er†status of gas as a fossil fuel is belied by the recent analysis by Professor Robert Howarth of Cornell University, New York, USA, who has concluded that : “A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas a far less attractive than oil and not significantly better than coal in terms of the consequences for global warming.†[17]

Natural gas (mostly methane, CH4) yields carbon dioxide (CO2) on combustion as does black coal (mostly Carbon, C) and brown coal (65% water, H2O).

The molecular weights of CH4 and CO2 are 16 and 44, respectively. The atomic weights of oxygen (O), carbon © and hydrogen (H) are 16, 12 and 1, respectively.

Burning 16 tonnes of CH4 yields 44 tonnes CO2 (i.e. burning 1 tonne of natural gas yields 2.8 tonnes CO2).

Burning 12 tonnes of C yields 44 tonnes of CO2 (i.e. burning 1 tonne of coal – assuming it to be 100% carbon – yields 3.7 tonnes of CO2).

Brown coal (that is burned to produce most of the electricity in Victoria, Australia) has a water (H2O) content of about 65% and thus burning 1 tonne of brown coal would yield 0.35 x 3.7 = 1.3 tonnes of CO2, or about 46% of that produced by burning 1 tonne of natural gas (2.8 tonnes of CO2).

Clearly, on a weight basis, burning natural gas (CH4) yields twice as much CO2 as burning brown coal. However proponents of gas burning assert that it is only 50% as polluting as black coal and only 30% as polluting as brown coal in terms of grams CO2 generated per million joules of energy.

Methane (CH4) has a molecular weight of 16 and carbon dioxide (CO2) has a molecular weight of 44.

When you burn CH4 you get CO2: CH4 + 2O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O.

Accordingly burning 16 tonnes of CH4 yields 44 tonnes of CO2 and burning 100 tonnes of CH4 yields 100x 44/16 = 275 tonnes of CO2.

However if there is industrial leakage of CH4 (estimated to be at least 2.2% by the US EPA) then one must consider the greenhouse gas effect of the released methane (72 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas on a 20 year time scale).

Of our 100 tonnes of CH4, how much CH4 leakage (y tonnes) gives the same greenhouse effect (in CO2 equivalents or CO2-e) as burning the remaining CH4?

y tonnes CH4 x (72 tonnes CO2-e/tonne CH4) = (100-y) tonnes CH4 x (2.75 tonnes CO2-e/ tonne CH4).

72y tonnes CO2-e = (100-y) 2.75 tonnes CO2-e

72y = 275 – 2.75y

74.75y = 275

y = 275/74.75 = 3.68 i.e. a 3.7% leakage of CH4 yields that same greenhouse effect as burning the remaining CH4 (check: 3.68 tonnes leaked CH4 corresponds to 3.68 tonnes CH4 x 72 tonnes CO2-e/ tonne CH4 = 265 tonnes CO2-e . Burning the remaining 96.32 tonnes of CH4 corresponds to 96.32 tonnes CH4 x 2.75 tonnes CO2/tonne CH4 = 265 tonnes CO2). [18].

Recent re-assessment by the US EPA of US natural gas leakage has led to the estimate that "3.25 % of US natural gas production leaks into the atmosphere as methane gas". [19].

There is no point spending billions of dollars replacing coal with natural gas and locking us into something essentially as bad as coal for decades more. Top climate scientists say that we must urgently reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from the current damaging 392 parts per million (ppm) to a safe and sustainable 300 ppm for a safe and sustainable planet for all peoples and all species.

Pollutants from gas leakage and gas burning threaten residents, agriculture and the environment.

Natural gas is not necessarily cleaner than coal for power generation in terms of greenhouse gas pollution (see part (B) above). However the bottom line in any analysis of any social policy is avoidable human morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death). That fundamental consideration and other environmental impacts of gas burning heavily inform the following numbered concerns about the threat of gas burning to residents, agriculture and the environment. [20].

1. It can be proportionally estimated from Canadian and New Zealand epidemiological data that about10,000 Australians die annually from the effects of carbon burning pollutants, the breakdown being about 5,000 (coal and gas burning for electrical power), 2,000 ( vehicle exhaust) and 3,000 (other fossil fuel combustion excluding bush fires). Accordingly any increase in fossil fuel burning is contra-indicated. [21-26].

2. International comparisons of fossil fuel-based power pollution deaths can be made. “Annual coal-based electricity deaths†[“total annual fossil fuel-based electricity deathsâ€] are 170,000 [283,000] (the World), 11,000 [13,000] (India), 47,000 [47,500] (China), 49,000 [72,000] (the US), 3,400 [6,900] (the UK), 4,900 [5,400] (Australia) and 2,700 [3,800](Canada) as compared to 110 [360] (heavily renewable-based New Zealand). These estimates of total fossil fuel-based deaths (i.e. from coal burning plus gas burning) are simply ball-park upper limits deriving from a crude assumption, in the absence of readily available data otherwise, of the same mortality from gas burning as from coal burning. In reality, since pollutants are much lower from gas burning (see #3 below) one expects deaths from gas burning for power to be lower than for coal burning. However while transition top gas burning might be expected to decrease mortality from fossil fuel burning for power, clearly gas burning will contribute to such mortality. A direct transition from coal burning to renewables is clearly highly desirable from the perspective of avoiding human and environmental impacts . [24-26].

3. Pollutants (pounds per Billion Btu of energy input) from gas, oil and coal burning are as follows: carbon dioxide (CO2) (117,000, 164,000, 208,000, respectively); carbon monoxide (CO) (40, 33, 208), nitrogen oxides (N2O, NO2 and NO i.e. NOx) (92, 448, 457); sulphur dioxide (SO2) (1, 1122, 2591); particulates (7, 84, 2744); and Mercury (0.000, 0.007, 0.016) i.e. deaths from gas burning for power may be expected to be lower than for coal burning. However CO pollution and NOx pollution from gas burning for power is about 20% of that from coal burning i.e. gas burning produces substantial quantities of dangerous pollutants. [27, 28]

4. In addition to methane and other aliphatic (non-aromatic) hydrocarbons, natural gas can contain toxic materials such as aromatic organics, notably those innately present or deriving from “fracking†mixtures used to help extract gas from fractured rocks or coal seams (e.g. benzene, toluene, ethylbenze and xylene), radon (and other radioactive materials), and organometallics (e.g. methylmercury , organoarsenic compounds and organolead compounds). Incomplete combustion and industrial leakage of natural gas (estimated by the US EPA to be at least 2.2% globally and recently assessed to be at least 3.3% in the US ; see section (B) above) will pollute the local environment with these toxic substances. Radon and other radioactive materials are mutagenic and carcinogenic. Aromatic organics are carcinogenic. Organometallics are fat soluble, leading to long-term storage in human fat tissue. Methylmercury is neurotoxic (e.g. as in Minamata syndrome). Organoarsenic and organolead compounds are variously toxic. Arsenic is toxic, teratogenic (yielding birth defects) and carcinogenic. [27].

5. Nitrous oxide (N2O), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO) (collectively described as NOx) are major products from natural gas combustion. According to the US EPA: “NOx react with ammonia, moisture, and other compounds to form small particles. These small particles penetrate deeply into sensitive parts of the lungs and can cause or worsen respiratory disease, such as emphysema and bronchitis, and can aggravate existing heart disease, leading to increased hospital admissions and premature death.†[28, 29]..

6. According to the US EPA: “Ozone is formed when NOx and volatile organic compounds react in the presence of heat and sunlight. Children, the elderly, people with lung diseases such as asthma, and people who work or exercise outside are at risk for adverse effects from ozone. These include reduction in lung function and increased respiratory symptoms as well as respiratory-related emergency department visits, hospital admissions, and possibly premature deaths.†[29].

7. Nitrogen oxides can seriously injure vegetation, bleaching or killing plant tissue, causing leaf fall and reducing growth rate. Ozone pollution damages photosynthesis by plants. NOx air pollution contributes to acidifying nitrate deposition (with fish kills and reduction in plant growth), causes excess soil nitrification in ecosystems (with damage to vegetation, loss of biodiversity, increased GHG pollution) and is regarded not just a s a threat to agriculture and forestry but also to as a major threat to national parks and wilderness areas . [30, 31].

8. Gas burning-based power generation at a circa 1000 MW level in an urban environment can have very serious health consequences. Thus the City of Sydney (New South Wales, Australia) has pledged to install more than 100 trigeneration gas-burning turbines which burn gas to generate electricity and then capture the exhaust to heat and cool buildings as necessary. NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change has slammed this proposal saying that emissions from just 10MW of "co-generation" (a similar engine that heats but doesn't cool buildings) could exceed health limits and that 200 MW generation would certainly do so: “On an hourly basis 330MW of gas-fired co-generation [the amount envisioned] could emit up to 660kg per hour of NOx; this is more NOx than the combined emissions from the Shell and Caltex oil refineries in Sydney…As a result there is little 'headroom' available to accommodate uncontrolled emissions from cogeneration without causing local health impacts.†The National Environment Protection Council sets a limit of 0.03 parts per million (ppm) for allowed levels of NOx release average over a year. By way of example, the current proposal for 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant to be built 1.5 kilometres from the Lockyer Valley town of Gatton (Queensland, Australia) is contra-indicated on the basis of NOx pollution health effects on the nearby community. [32, 33].

9. A further threat from gas fired power generation comers from the generation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A study of pollution from a 70-year-old natural gas-fired power station in Canada stated:

"This paper presents the results of a risk assessment study made using CalTOX, a multimedia, multiple pathway risk assessment model. The case study is based on the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) soil contamination resulting from the activities of a natural gas power station over a period of 70 years. It describes model characteristics and input parameters such as physico-chemical properties, landscape description, and human exposure factors. Model simulations and risk estimations corresponding to different remedial scenarios in an industrial zone are also presented. These estimations were based on soil contamination by 16 PAHs in the root-zone and vadose-zone layer. Results show that adult exposure (workers) to contaminated soil will lead to a potential health risk of carcinogenic effects, and to no potential risk of non-carcinogenic effects. On the other hand, the addition of 10 cm of clean soil over the contaminated soil (mitigated scenario) decreases the lifetime cancer risk to an acceptable level. The sensitivity analysis showed that the half-life of benzo[a]pyrene in the root-zone soil is the most sensitive parameter and that it contributes significantly to the variability of the cancer risk estimation. [34]."

10. A final major argument derives from cause and effect and the sources of the methane to be used. Australia and America are currently undergoing a gas exploitation boom that flies in the face of what top climate scientists are telling us. The film Gasland presents a deeply upsetting portrait of the devastation across America by the “frackers†involved in recovery of gas from fractured rocks and coal seams. In Australia, in addition to conventional offshore and on on-shore gas exploitation, there is a rapidly advancing coal seam gas industry involving “fracking†that has generated protest from both environmentalists and farmers. Whether the gas used in a gas-fired power station is on-shore- or off-shore-derived it is part of the total resource and accordingly no consequences of any gas extraction (e.g. environmental pollution as set out in “Gaslandâ€) can be ignored. [35].

In summary, objections to the transition from coal burning-based power to gas burning-based power are that (A) Humanity should be urgently decreasing CO2 pollution to 300 ppm from the current dangerous 392 ppm and certainly should not be increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution (all fossil fuels must be kept in the ground if we are to save the Planet) ; (B) Natural Gas (mainly methane) is not clean energy, methane is 72 times worse than CO2 as a GHG on a 20 year time scale and, depending upon the rate of methane leakage, natural gas burning can be as dirty as coal burning greenhouse gas-wise; and © Pollutants from gas leakage and gas burning pose a chemical risk to residents, agriculture and the environment. Please use this article as a resource and tell everyone you can why we must oppose transition to gas-fired power.

References

[1]. “Top science and economics experts: Carbon Tax needed and NOT Carbon Tradingâ€, 300,org

[2]. “Climate genocideâ€

[3]. Adam Morton and Tom Arup, â€Greens slam Gillard on brown coal export dealâ€, The Age, 26 June 2010.

[4]. Gideon Polya, “Australia’s “5% off 2000 level by 2020†endangers Australia, Humanity and Biosphereâ€, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group.

[5]. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, “Terra quasi-incognita: beyond the 2 degree C lineâ€< 4 Degrees & Beyond, International Climate Conference, 26-30 September 2009, Oxford University, UK.

[6]. Dr Vicky Pope, “Met Office warn of “catastrophic†rise in temperatureâ€, The Sunday Times, 19 December 2008.

[7]. Kevin Anderson & Alice Bows, “Reframing the climate change challenge in light of post-2000 emission trendsâ€, Proc. Trans. Roy. Soc, A, 2008.

[8]. James Hansen, “Storms of My Grandchildren. The truth about the coming climate catastrophe and out last chance to save humanityâ€â€, Bloomsbury, London & New York, 2009.

[9]. “300.org – return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppmâ€, 300.org.

[10]. Professors O. Hoegh-Guldberg, P. J. Mumby and colleagues, “Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidificationâ€, Science 14 December 2007, Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp. 1737 – 1742.

[11]. Professor Peter Seligman, “Australian Sustainable Energy – by the Numbersâ€, Melbourne Energy Institute, University of Melbourne, 2010.

[12]. .Beyond Zero Emissions, “Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Planâ€, 2010.

[13]. Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi, “A path to sustainable energy by 2030â€, Scientific American, November 2009,p(p 58 – 65.

[14]. James Hansen, “Copenhagen summit – Is there any real chance of averting the climate crisis?â€, Guardian, 29 November 2009.

[15]. Gideon Polya, “Correcting the Australian Government – natural gas is NOT clean energyâ€, Open Forum, 7 February 2010.

[16]. Green Energy Markets, “Fast-tracking Victoria’s clean energy future to replace Hazelwoodâ€, 2010.

[17]. Professor Robert Howarth, “Preliminary assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas obtained by hydraulic fracturingâ€, Cornell University, 1 April 2010.

[18]. Gideon Polya, “Gulf oil & gas disaster, lobbyists, Obama and huge threat of natural gas (methane) to Humanity and Biosphereâ€, Bellaciao, 19 June 2010.

[19]. David Lewis, “EPA confirms high Natural gas leakage ratesâ€, The Energy Collective, 7 December 2010.

[20]. Gideon Polya, “Global avoidable mortality since 1950â€, G.M. Polya. Melbourne, 2007.

[21]. Gideon Polya, “How many people die from carbon burning and climate change each year?â€, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group.

[22]. G.W. Fischer et al., “Health effects due to motor vehicle air pollution in New Zealandâ€, Report to the Ministry of Transport, 2002.

[23]. Paul Gipe, “Ontario study identifies social costs of coal-fired power plantsâ€, EV World, 7 July 2005.

[24]. Gideon Polya, “Pollutants from coal-based electricity generation kill 170,000 people annuallyâ€, Green Blog, 14 June 2008.

[25]. Gideon Polya, “Coal is king. Australia CO2 pollution fact sheetâ€, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group.

[26]. Gideon Polya, “Pollution deaths from fossil fuel-based power plantsâ€, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group.

[27]. US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data quoted in “Natural Gas and the Environmentâ€, Natural Gas.org.

[28]. Agnes Malouf and David Wimberley, “Health hazards of natural gasâ€, Environmental health, 2001.

[29]. US EPA, Nitrogen dioxide, 20 October 2010.

[30]. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, “Oxides of Nitrogenâ€.

[31]. Environmental defence, “Nitrogen oxides air pollutionâ€, November 2003.

[32]. Drew Warne-Smith, “Health fears over gas-fired generatorsâ€, The Australian, 12 November 2010.

[33]. “Residents rally against stationâ€, [Gatton, Lockyer and Brisbane Valley] Star, 26 December 2010.

[34]. S. Loranger and Y. Courchesne, “Health Risk Assessment of an Industrial Site Contaminated With Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Using CalTOX, an Environmental Fate/Exposure Modelâ€, SAR and QSAR in Environmental Research, Volume 6, Issue 1 &2, April 1997 , pages 81 - 104.

[35]. Gasland –Australia.


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Dr Gideon Polya
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Guest BlueRock

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I've only skimmed this article, but it appears to contradict every credible source I've read that describes the optimal route to 100% renewables. Natural gas produces 400g CO2 / kWh. Coal produces 1000g+. Natural gas power plants are dispatchable and therefore perfectly compliment variable renewable sources, such as wind. Obviously NG is dirty relative to renewables, but it's clean relative to coal. Even Greenpeace accepts and recommends NG as preferable and necessary in the short term: "A shift from coal and oil to natural gas in the remaining conventional applications leads to a further reduction of CO2 emissions." http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/energy-revolution-a-sustainab/ We are stuck between a rock and a hard place and natural gas is a necessary and net beneficial stepping stone to 100% renewables. Coal is the big killer and we need to stop burning it as quickly as possible - natural gas will play a major role in achieving that.

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Guest Alarm Downs

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But how clean is it compared to coal? It might burn a little cleaner. But the extraction process uses many internal combustion engines, pumps, generators, drilling rigs, etc., and then there is the disposal of millions of litres of contaminated coal seam water. At say a million litres per well, you are looking at hundreds of thousands of truck movements (depending on the size of the gas field) taking the contaminated water to treatment plants. Then there is the treatment of the water. Couple this with escape of raw methane in the process and damage to vegetation and loss of upper fresh water aquifers. It is just as dirty as coal, if not dirtier.

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Guest Francesco Cusumano

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I agree with this article. No much very trustworthy has been done so far for improving our pollutting system and often all the international agreements that they submit are only for doing BAU and not for climate change. By greenbear.it

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I think that if we do not only change the form of energy we use, but also change WHAT WE ARE PRODUCING FOR, namely a more sustainable way of life, like outlined in this article: http://www.aquarianconsultant.com/blog/item/98-how-to-insert-google-adsense-into-a-joomla/k2-article-with-jce-editor we will ultimaetely be more succesfull

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Guest choppingdownthecherrytree

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Wow, what a terrible fear tactic put forth by a complete deuche-bag. 10 billion people?? I hope you're the first. According to your calculations Florida should already be underwater and a few 100 billion people should be dead. Cancun experienced record colds during this Global Warming Conference .. the "Gore Effect" was in full force. This article, and others like it, are flat out lies put forth by people with a political agenda.

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It is a hard decision to make. Pollution is going to occur no matter what we do. The question is how much can we avoid and what else are we harming trying to avoid it. Stacy Ayiers Green Blogger for AZNOW.BIZ http://aznow.biz/green/going-green-free-10-easy-steps

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Guest NET ZERO Energy

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Very interesting article. I am totally in favor of green technology. With current technology a lot is possible. Unfortunately, we still need other ways to produce electricity / energy...

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