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Transition from Coal to Natural Gas not the Answer

March 15, 2012; 12:02 PM ET

Replacing all the world's coal power plants with natural gas would do little to reduce global warming over the next 100 years, according to new research published in Environmental Review Letters.

Switching from coal to natural gas would cut the warming effect in 100 years' time by only about 20 percent, while switching to renewable or nuclear energy would slash the warming effect about two-thirds to three-quarters, according to the National Geographic News story.

If you click on the above National Geographic link, the image of the coal fired power plant stands out to me. The minute I saw that image I correctly guessed it as the same power plant that I drove by last month on our way to a skiing trip in West Virginia. The whole landscape up on that high plateau was erie as we drove through... few trees, large mounds of dirt and basically barren for miles beyond the power plant. Obviously, a lot of coal mining (mountaintop) going on.

The research team of physicist Nathan Myhrvold and climate researcher Ken Caldeira tested the effects of making the coal to natural gas transition from as little as one year to as many as 100 years.

Compared to emissions from coal, "cutting emissions by a factor of two or three hardly makes a difference," said Myhrvold. To avoid a significant amount of warming this century, he added, "you must cut emissions by a dramatic factor"-by ten or twenty times. (from Nat. Geographic)

"There are lots of reasons to like natural gas, but climate change isn't one of them," said Myhrvold. "It's worthless for (fighting) climate change, as far as we can tell." (from Nat. Geographic)

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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