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News Opinion

Reducing carbon emissions a daunting task

Mike Tidwell is correct that the evidence for global climate change is indisputable and that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels and alterations in the earth's ecosystems is the primary cause ("Forecast calls for pain," Feb. 6). Since the carbon already in the atmosphere will persist for a thousand years, we must stop and not merely reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we are to stabilize the current status. I agree that society must put a price on carbon dioxide emissions for the universal harm they do. In so doing, as the price increases, clean, non-carbon energy sources will become competitive in the marketplace.

Renewable energy proponents advocating wind and solar for electricity generation decline to acknowledge the fact that these intermittent energy sources require fossil fuel back-up natural gas and that natural gas produces 50 percent of the carbon dioxide as coal. Thus, "renewable energy" is not the same as "clean energy" if the latter is defined as not producing carbon dioxide.

Critical conclusions of the U.S. National Academies of Science are first, that large scale implementation of wind power must use carbon-emitting gas turbines as back-up, unless an effective method for energy storage is developed. Second, carbon dioxide emissions must ultimately be eliminated and third, that nuclear power must have a role in the energy mix.

When wind energy proponents focus only on the potentially positive aspects of their preferred energy source and ignore the backup requirements and potential long-term environmental effects and when a major environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, have stated antinuclear policies, crafting an objective science-based energy policy based on the pros and cons of all energy sources seems a daunting task.

Kenneth B. Lewis, Baltimore

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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