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Is my physics teacher mad? (global warming related)

  1. Oct 10, 2011 #1
    I've been set the task of determining whether or not using alternative fuel sources will "fix" anthropogenic warming. The teacher's argument is that it is not so much the co2 output of energy production methods, rather output of waste heat. We are to compare the efficiency of waste heat produced for: a fossil fuel, alternative source (solar, wind) and a nuclear fission process, each converting fuel to 1MW of electrical energy. This in turn will lead us to a conclusion of whether or not alternative energy will resolve human induced climate change.

    Is this idea that human induced climate change is being caused by excess heat plausible?

    Part of what we've been told to do involves researching the carbon cost of building for example a coal-burning power plant (through production of steel and concrete). There seems to be no info on the materials involved in the construction of these plants.

    Sorry if this should've gone in the homework section, but I felt it was an issue of its own.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 10, 2011 #2


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    That's not true at our present energy consumption rate. While it is true that waste heat from human activities (transport, energy generation, heating etc) can cause measurable local temperature anomalies in urban area's (heat island effect), taken globally it is estimated to be only about 1% of the excess heat flux due to human caused increases in greenhouse gases.
  4. Oct 10, 2011 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Global warming is a closed topic here. Please reread the PF Rules, which you agreed to when you joined.
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