B Coal and total CO2 emissions in the UK

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Mentor note: This thread started as side-discussion in the thread New Tokamak D Mode Success - Fusion is Almost Here, see there for earlier posts that lead to this discussion. I split the threads. Everything from post 2 to post 20 was moved, later posts were made here.
 
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sophiecentaur

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That's not what I've seen, it's all domestic generation, not imported electricity. We're are the figures for that nugget?
We don't need to "import electricity" to contribute to the problem. We buy many products from the East which are manufactured using vast amounts of coal and the smug UK Government totally ignores that, preferring to pick statistics that make them look good. (And they seem to have fooled you, too. 😉 )
 
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Adding a wink emoji to your witless political statement, personal insult to me, and dismissal of a big win for the environment doesn't make your post any less silly.
 

sophiecentaur

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Adding a wink emoji to your witless political statement, personal insult to me, and dismissal of a big win for the environment doesn't make your post any less silly.
If you ignore the fact that coal is used to build your car is a significant contribution to your carbon footprint then you really have been fooled. I can’t see how that corresponds to a “silly” point. A “big win” would necessitate you to do without a car. Not practical for you, perhaps but people make lifestyle choices and cars are less essential for many. So are frequent flights, eating beef and warm houses.
How could you possibly take offense from my post ? Was it the word “fooled”? Look around at some other forums on the Web if you want to read some insults.
 
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How could you possibly take offense from my post ?
See, the thing is @sophiecentaur, you don't get to decide what offends people, that's up to them. And I'm not 'fooled' because you've created a false equivalence. RE displacing coal in the UK is not linked to coal-generated electricity being used to construct a car somewhere else. Happy to debate that as a separate issue, I'm totally in on AGW and the need for RE (or even fusion if that ever eventuates), but I at least will applaud an outcome where coal goes away, if only for a week. The more we have of that, the less likely it is than a motor vehicle anywhere has coal in its manufacture.
 

sophiecentaur

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you don't get to decide what offends people, that's up to them
I know we live in a victim orientated culture but you really should grow a tougher skin about such mild criticisms.
RE displacing coal in the UK is not linked to coal-generated electricity being used to construct a car somewhere else.
an outcome where coal goes away, if only for a week.
Which particular week did you have in mind? Steel production didn't actually pause when they closed our local blast furnaces and coal fired power stations - also the local coal fired plant are more likely to have been better regulated.
If you can't see the connection then "that's up to you" but just paying someone else to produce the pollution is no solution to anything. Sequestration of carbon is one trick. Getting old ships dismantled in the East, with its appalling cost to health and mortality is another totally cynical way that the West offloads its problems. I should have thought that a PF member would be more likely to see such second and third order knock-ons and be less likely to take on board what the politicians tell us. Is there no lesson to be learned here?
 

PAllen

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I know we live in a victim orientated culture but you really should grow a tougher skin about such mild criticisms.


Which particular week did you have in mind? Steel production didn't actually pause when they closed our local blast furnaces and coal fired power stations - also the local coal fired plant are more likely to have been better regulated.
If you can't see the connection then "that's up to you" but just paying someone else to produce the pollution is no solution to anything. Sequestration of carbon is one trick. Getting old ships dismantled in the East, with its appalling cost to health and mortality is another totally cynical way that the West offloads its problems. I should have thought that a PF member would be more likely to see such second and third order knock-ons and be less likely to take on board what the politicians tell us. Is there no lesson to be learned here?
Unless the UK changed it activities for the week such that there were increases in these other sources of carbon footprint of similar or greater magnitude than from the decrease of coal use, you still have a net carbon emission reduction. How much to crow about that is a separate question, but alluding to things that mostly likely remained constant for the week is logically irrelevant.
 

sophiecentaur

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but alluding to things that mostly likely remained constant for the week is logically irrelevant.
You would have to identify a period during which fewer cars were bought if you are looking for a reduction in CO2 production. This is so obvious to me that I can't understand where the problem arises in understanding the relevance of total pollution production. And there is not even an easy comparison between pollution produced for 1kg of steel from the West and the same amount produced in a less fussy source in the East. Either way, there would be no less pollution, whoever makes the steel.
 

PAllen

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You would have to identify a period during which fewer cars were bought if you are looking for a reduction in CO2 production. This is so obvious to me that I can't understand where the problem arises in understanding the relevance of total pollution production. And there is not even an easy comparison between pollution produced for 1kg of steel from the West and the same amount produced in a less fussy source in the East. Either way, there would be no less pollution, whoever makes the steel.
The topic was a week where coal generated electricity use was replaced by solar and wind. You must provide evidence that some other production of co2 elsewhere and caused by this offset it. It is incomprehensible that you don’t see this elementary logic and obfuscate with wholly irrelevant issues. I can’t understand your argument as coming from an intellectually honest place.
 

sophiecentaur

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obfuscate with wholly irrelevant issues.
Nice one. :smile:
I can't actually see anywhere in the thread where this issue is not relevant (once we had already deviated from the Tokomac subject). 'The week' was a bit of a red herring which I probably shouldn't have followed up. But not using coal locally doesn't logically imply that the same amount of coal isn't burned elsewhere.
It was I who brought in the comparison between pollution for locally and overseas steel production. Whatever we (UK and others) are explicitly doing with our locally produced energy, the indirect use of energy is at least as important and steel is just one example. That is not an obfuscation; it just points out that governments go for low hanging fruit to look good. That 'coal statistic' should be viewed realistically, was my point.
 

PAllen

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Nice one. :smile:
I can't actually see anywhere in the thread where this issue is not relevant (once we had already deviated from the Tokomac subject). 'The week' was a bit of a red herring which I probably shouldn't have followed up. But not using coal locally doesn't logically imply that the same amount of coal isn't burned elsewhere.
It was I who brought in the comparison between pollution for locally and overseas steel production. Whatever we (UK and others) are explicitly doing with our locally produced energy, the indirect use of energy is at least as important and steel is just one example. That is not an obfuscation; it just points out that governments go for low hanging fruit to look good. That 'coal statistic' should be viewed realistically, was my point.
One thing your argument does show is that it would be foolish to shut down smelters because there is no clearly better source of steel. The thing about coal produced electricity is that every significant alternative (even oil) has a lower total carbon footprint (all as currently implemented). Reducing coal fired electricity is the low hanging fruit in carbon footprint, and there is no non-economic reason not to go for it.
 

sophiecentaur

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One thing your argument does show is that it would be foolish to shut down smelters because there is no clearly better source of steel.
It would be foolish to shut down a smelter just to tick a box that makes our pollution figures look better. It would also be foolish if the alternative source produces worse net global pollution figures - and that is actually very likely. In fact, what do you mean by a "better source of steel"?
It is a complicated business - as we all know - and we suffer from climate change deniers and people with influence who are totally committed to the idea of endless economic growth. It seems that it is only a matter of time before we will need to reduce our use of energy dramatically and that will put an end to a crude growth based global economy. People will be endlessly ignoring and denying this problem, even when the situation becomes really bad.
 

PAllen

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It would be foolish to shut down a smelter just to tick a box that makes our pollution figures look better. It would also be foolish if the alternative source produces worse net global pollution figures - and that is actually very likely. In fact, what do you mean by a "better source of steel"?
It is a complicated business - as we all know - and we suffer from climate change deniers and people with influence who are totally committed to the idea of endless economic growth. It seems that it is only a matter of time before we will need to reduce our use of energy dramatically and that will put an end to a crude growth based global economy. People will be endlessly ignoring and denying this problem, even when the situation becomes really bad.
I mean simply that shutting down one smelter will simply mean a corresponding amount of steel will come from another, and that other one will be at best similar, possibly worse, in carbon footprint - just as you said. More generally, there isn’t some alternative way to manufacture steel with substantially lower carbon footprint (that I know of). This is in contrast to electricity where there are four very low footprint options currently available (nuclear, geothermal, solar, and wind).
 

sophiecentaur

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there isn’t some alternative way to manufacture steel with substantially lower carbon footprint
You have to reduce the iron oxides one way or another and that means CO2 out. Getting someone else to do it is no reason for governments to blow their trumpets and that's just what is happening in the west. It's not Science; it's politics that I'm complaining about. The topic could alternatively be education, health or social services; they paint it all to be shamelessly in their favour.
 

PAllen

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You have to reduce the iron oxides one way or another and that means CO2 out. Getting someone else to do it is no reason for governments to blow their trumpets and that's just what is happening in the west. It's not Science; it's politics that I'm complaining about. The topic could alternatively be education, health or social services; they paint it all to be shamelessly in their favour.
Well there are other possibilities in theory, but I haven’t heard of any of them being commercially viable, e.g. the thermite reaction. If the electricity used to extract the aluminum was low carbon footprint, the overall process would be as well. But this is nonsense as commercial possibility.
 

sophiecentaur

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In Kinlochleven (Scotland) there was an Aluminium extraction plant using hydroelectricity, many many years ago and my School Geography Teacher told me of a similar, much bigger, business in Canada. Green as you could wish for.
 

PAllen

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In Kinlochleven (Scotland) there was an Aluminium extraction plant using hydroelectricity, many many years ago and my School Geography Teacher told me of a similar, much bigger, business in Canada. Green as you could wish for.
The commercial problem with my hypothetical alternative is price and scaling. Steel would become more expensive than aluminum rather than significantly cheaper.

I just threw it out to make the point that while I know of no commercial low carbon footprint approach to making steel, it isn't technologically impossible.

In a sense the whole of electricity generation is a low hanging fruit for carbon footprint. After that, things get much harder (cars, cows, residential heating systems, manufacturing processes, etc.). The costs and lifestyle changes required are just so large.
 

sophiecentaur

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The costs and lifestyle changes required are just so large.
I agree but they will not be 'optional' eventually.
People will start killing each other long before they volunteer to not have cars or eat beaf etc. etc.. They will identify someone else to blame for it all and then go to war.
 
In Kinlochleven (Scotland) there was an Aluminium extraction plant using hydroelectricity, many many years ago and my School Geography Teacher told me of a similar, much bigger, business in Canada. Green as you could wish for.
We have a similar plant here. Our Government built a hydro power station (Manapouri 600 MW) to service the Aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point Bluff. This has been operating since 1971.

Cheers
 
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In a sense the whole of electricity generation is a low hanging fruit for carbon footprint. After that, things get much harder (cars, cows, residential heating systems, manufacturing processes, etc.). The costs and lifestyle changes required are just so large.
If we're talking effective CO2 mitigation then Project Drawdown has a well thought-through ranking of solutions, and interestingly, replacing HFCs used in refrigerants is their #1.

They note that HFCs "have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide". The Kigali accord - a global agreement to phase out HFCs - will apparently reduce global warming by nearly one degree Fahrenheit if fully implemented, so that seems an even lower hanging fruit than RE. (Notably onshore wind is #2 and PV is in the Top 10.)

And David Wallace-Wells, in his The Uninhabitable Earth, agrees with your point. He considers that effectively tackling GW requires governmental policy because any single change we make as individuals (excluding individual politicians taking action, like exiting the Paris Agreement) is irrelevant given the scale of the problem.
 

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