High School Science and Cap and Trade Legislation

For every one ton of coal burned, 2.86 tons of carbon dioxide is produced.

Wait a minute. How can one ton of hard coal produce nearly triple that weight of a gas (in this case, CO2)?

Those pushing this climate change argument ask us to accept some of the most complex science that very few understand, and to accept that science on faith.

Yet this coal-to-CO2 thing is not complex science. It's basic first-year high school science that we all learned. Science was never really cool at high school, so we remembered enough to get us through the exams, and once that was achieved, it was no longer necessary to remember it.

One of the first things we learned in high school science was the first few atoms in the periodic table of elements: hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen.

What that indicates is the smallest of atoms working up to the heavier atoms, each with more protons, electrons, and neutrons. The weight rises as you go up the chart.

Notice there how oxygen comes after carbon. So, in actual fact, one atom of oxygen is just that slight bit heavier than carbon.

We are told that the main culprits in the coal-to-CO2 argument are those coal-fired power plants. Coal is crushed and fed into a critical furnace to burn. As it burns, it generates huge amounts of heat, which is used to boil water to highly pressurized steam, which drives a turbine, which drives the generator to produce the electrical power we all use. That generator complex can weigh up to four hundred tons, and when joined to the turbine, the weight then becomes even larger. All of this rotates at 3,600 RPM. Snap your fingers, and then snap them again. That is sixty rotations of four hundred tons with each snap of your fingers.

See why huge amounts of steam are required? To produce that steam, huge amounts of coal are needed, and again, this is a difficult thing to comprehend. A large coal-fired power plant will burn 6.5 million tons of coal each year, and some burn even more. This sounds unbelievable, but in fact, is stated at nearly every website for those power plants. That equates to more than one ton of crushed coal being burned every five seconds.

So how does one ton of coal produce 2.86 tons of CO2?

During the burning process, every carbon atom in the coal combines with two atoms of oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2), more than tripling the weight. Coal is basically all carbon (although it does contain some other elements as well), so that multiplier is indeed 2.86 tons of CO2 for each ton of coal. That's an actual physical weight of 2.86 tons.

In the U.S., to produce the electrical power we all use, an amount of 972 million tons of coal is burned. That effectively means that there are emissions of 2.78 billion tons of CO2 each year.

CO2 is also emitted by natural gas-fired power plants, but only at one third the rate of coal-fired plants on a power equivalency basis.

When this is added to the amount from the coal-fired plants, we have a total of 3.5 billion tons of CO2 being emitted each year, just from power plants alone.

The now-failed American Power Act legislation proposed placing a cost on CO2 in the amount of $25 per ton.

Now, the total amount in dollar terms for the money to be raised from this cost on CO2 comes in at $88 billion per year.

Electrical Power generation produces one third of all CO2 emissions, so if that legislation was passed, government would be looking at raising around $260 billion each and every year.

That cost would have been passed down to every one of us in everything we do in the form of higher charges for the electricity we use at home, and in higher prices for everything else as other sectors pass on their increased charges for the electricity they use.

Can you see now why climate change legislation really was really just about the money?

This money part of that legislation was not rocket science.

And it all hinged on high school science that most of us have forgotten.

All of this was for a trace gas in the amount of 390 parts per million, which is 0.039% of the total atmosphere -- and that's high school math.

Also, if you read the legislation (and that's high school English), you'll see that they didn't stop at CO2, but instead proposed also to place a cost on a number of other emissions as well.

It really was just all about the money.

TonyfromOz posts at PA Pundits International under the screen name of TonyfromOz.