Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carbon

Les Stone / Corbis
Some people believe global warming is real and is caused by burning fossil fuels, like coal and oil. So what's to be done? Stop burning coal and oil? You might want to have another think about that. From an IHS newsletter about the world's use of coal: 
Ironically, in what is known as the “pollution paradox,” growing an economy to the level where it can afford to deal with such things as coal-derived pollution typically requires that that economy grow via coal-fired generation. 
Note about the photo: I was looking for a picture that would show the air pollution caused by burning coal, which is a serious problem in China, but what do you see? Gray, like fog, obscuring things. Well, is it fog or smog? Hard to tell, and not very dramatic. Ask Google for pictures of coal burning pollution and you get lots of pictures of big smoke stacks pumping out huge white clouds. But those are not pollution, they are steam and carbon dioxide, which is what you get when you burn hydrocarbons. This picture is kind of cool because it looks like evil clouds of black smoke billowing from the smoke stack. I suspect it is just a trick of the light and the clouds are actually white. It's just that is was shot at sunset and so most of the cloud is in shadow and appears black, while upper portions are hit by the red light from the setting sun.

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