Changes have unpredictable consequences
Fishing, hunting, and farming used to take all the time people had. Horses and other animals provided additional power, and rivers and wind were used in limited locations.
The steam engine was a game-changer, a new source of power that could be used in factories, mines, and transportation. James Watt built the best engines, burning less coal to provide more power. By the early 1800s Watt steam engines gave England a unique advantage.
Ironically, one of the first applications of steam engines was in coal mining. Burning coal to heat water and create steam was so successful that we keep burning it as if there was no tomorrow.
But combustion is a complex chemical process with oxygen, fuel, and a source of ignition, creating heat, smoke, carbon emissions, and residual ashes. If you light a candle, the heat, light, colors, movement of the flame, and the smoke are due to combustion processes.
Burning coal, oil, and gas creates carbon dioxide emissions, which stay in the atmosphere for more than 100 years, heating the planet.
To keep steam-powered plants, the UK and the European Union pretend burning wood is better than coal. The UK Drax power station has been burning wood pellets, pretending to be carbon neutral. Everyone knows burning the forests is a carbon accounting mistake, but Big Lies have long lives.
Drax explains everything they do, “5 incredible numbers from the world’s largest biomass port, how the UK’s largest port keeps the biomass rolling in.” 20,000 tonnes of pellets arrive daily at the power station, or 7,300,000 tonnes per year.
Their website shows trees growing as quickly as they burn. Drax pretends “working forests” in Arkansas and all over the Southeast U.S. are booming, loggers use laser beams, and logging trucks improve the roads making them safer. Drax claims they will have “negative carbon emissions,” saving the planet.
The UK pays subsidies to Drax of more than $1.4 billion per year. Drax investors like the profits and decided to get into the wood pellet mill business to make more profits with U.S. subsidies and incentives.
Drax ignores the climate emergency and the public health damage of air pollution created by pellet mills and by burning pellets, known to increase stillbirths, pulmonary diseases, dementia, and COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.
Protecting the forests is the best way to capture carbon emissions. In a letter last week, more than 500 scientists pleaded with world leaders to stop burning the forests for electricity and stop providing subsidies and incentives for wood pellets. The urgent plea was sent to the heads of the European Union Commission, the European Council, the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
“Trees are more valuable alive than dead for both climate and biodiversity. Forest preservation and restoration should be key tools for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050,” the top scientists and economists stated in the climate letter.
Burning forests will increase global warming for decades to centuries.
Only the vast expanses of forests, oceans, and soil are able to capture the dispersed carbon dioxide. Direct Capture is a problem of scale, machines to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are way too small when you look at Google Earth. If you zoom in, you see the emissions coming out of tailpipes – the volume of carbon emissions is massive. But if you zoom out, the volume of air in the atmosphere is 5.2 million gigatons.
Coal-fired power plants want to capture carbon emissions from the smokestack, a false engineering concept. Carbon Capture Enhanced Oil Recovery went bust at Petra Nova, it just moved emissions from smokestack to tailpipe.
Drax’s deception is to pretend Bio-Energy Carbon Capture and Storage creates negative carbon emissions.
Time to change
Please help establish the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Advisory Council (Arkansas House Bill 1434).
Call your representatives about the Carbon Capture Coalition, a secret fossil fuel lobbying group. Ask them about the Omnibus spending bill, which includes the deceptive Energy Act of 2020 and a two-year extension of the 45Q tax credit. Please inquire about the dark money the state of Wyoming uses to keep coal plants operational.
Dr. Luis Contreras