Smoggy thinking on pollution

The war on hydrocarbon fuels is based on two feeble legs – “it causes global warming, and it creates pollution.”  

Both legs are unsound, especially the pollution claims.  

No sensible person approves of pollution of air, water, land, or public places by humans.

  Have a look at some real pollution.

But no pollution whatsoever is caused by the main product of the combustion of hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide.  This is a colorless, non-toxic gas of life on which all plants (and animals) depend.

  In these days of carbon neurosis, coal power gets blamed for all bad things, even the Asian Smog.  

What causes the Asian Brown Smog?
Dust is a significant component.  Winds whip up dust from dry land, roads, and the huge Gobi and Arabian Deserts, or an upwind volcano explodes.  No dust comes from the emissions of a modern well-designed coal-fired power station.

Smog may also contain soot and ash.  These come from open-air fires all over Asia, burning wood, cow dung, paper, cardboard, plastic, rubber tires, and other rubbish; from stoves and heaters using unwashed high-sulphur coal or high-ash briquettes; from forest fires and uncontrolled coal-seam fires, cremations in India, and yeon-tans in Korea.

Some comes from worn-out internal combustion engines and old dirty coal/oil power stations, boilers, and furnaces.  Air is polluted even in classy neighborhoods by potbelly stoves, diesel SUVs, and coastal shipping.  No soot or ash comes from a modern coal-fired power station with full pollution control equipment.
Some smog contains compounds of sulphur, nitrogen, or other chemical pollutants.  These fumes are produced in open fires and vehicle exhausts, especially from badly maintained vehicles, boilers, and tuk-tuks.  They are not released by modern coal-power stations, whose exhausts contain little other than nitrogen, water vapor, and carbon dioxide – the three natural gases of life.

See how coal-fired power stations prevent pollution. 
 Those blaming coal power for smog need to read the history of last century’s deadly smogs in London and Pittsburgh.  These were cleared by bans on open-fire heaters and cookers and the provision of “clean-coal-by-wire” – electricity produced in modern power stations with good emission controls and burning washed high-quality coals.  Piped coal gas also helped clean the air of London.

Replacing dirty open fires and boilers with clean electricity and cleaning up vehicle exhausts will also clear today’s Asian Smog.