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Solar and wind power are no panacea for climate change

9:30 AM EST, February 10, 2013

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Your recent commentary on climate change continues the politically correct approach to the problem of global warming and its solutions without approaching the reality of what has been accomplished and what the underlying issues are ("Forecast calls for pain," Feb. 6).

Carbon dioxide production cannot be measured; it can be calculated by analyzing components in effluent streams from boilers and actual feed streams of fuel, which vary in composition, boiler efficiency, excess air and an infinite number of other variables.

Cap-and-trade and carbon taxes will require massive new government agencies to calculate effluents from all U.S. power plants, refineries and industrial boilers, plus a phalanx of lawyers and administrators to ensure compliance.

In the end, consumers will pay for the tax through higher prices for power, gasoline and industrial goods. The entire exercise is a sleight of hand by feckless politicians to deflect the public's wrath onto industry.

The environmentalists' spin on wind and solar power never addresses the underlying problem of erratic and unreliable service. There is no way to store electric power. To provide reliable service, fossil fuel plants are inefficiently cycled, and they waste steam to provide instant power when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow. In other words, there's no reduction in fossil fuel use when wind farms and solar mirrors are added to the grid.

Our legislators are too timid to approach the problem using methods that that have been used successfully by every other industrialized country for 50 years. Gasoline taxes of $2 to $4 per gallon in Europe and Japan have resulted in automobile fleets outside the U.S. with high fuel efficiency and low carbon dioxide emissions. It would be quite simple to tax consumption of electric power and gasoline.

France has the world's most advanced energy policy. After the 1974 Muslim takeover of the Middle East's oil reserves, France started a massive nuclear power program, building cookie-cutter plants that today produce 75 percent of the nation's power.

The rest of the power is mainly hydro-power and a relatively small number of coal-fired plants that are used mostly to avoid labor strife among a dwindling mining population. Coupled with a high-speed electric rail system and highly fuel-efficient automobiles, French carbon dioxide emission on a per capita basis are about a third of those in the U.S.

We should adopt 20th-century practices of the rest of the world and work on power storage before we cover the country with windmills and solar mirrors.

Charles Campbell, Woodstock

The writer is a retired senior vice president of the Gulf Oil Corporation.

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