Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gas about methane

So Ontario's Environment Commissioner (do we really have a Commissioner for this too?) Gord Miller says Ontario landfills like the one on Ottawa's Trail Road should not trap and burn methane emissions to produce energy.  His rationale is that the process of trapping gas releases gas faster than otherwise, and so because this is claimed to doom the Earth to burn up from the so-called "greenhouse effect", we should let landfills decompose more slowly.  There are some makor errors in his thinking.

First, trapping methane and using it for energy does not release more gas, it just changes the timing of the release.  Since this technology is relatively new (Ottawa started doing this only in 2007 and was ahead of the curve), any rational business would try to capture an increasing percentage of the gas created in a landfill, so escaping gas will reduce over time, not increase, hopefully to the point where almost all of it is capured and burned to produce energy.  If municipalities are operating the energy production facilities and are not improving their ability to capture gas, turn the job over to private businesses and they will certainly do so.

Second, there is a growing pile of high quality research findings indicating that not only is the planet not warming significantly because of man-made gas emissions, but that man's effect on the global temperature is completely offset by natural balancing mechanisms.  When one greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide rises, another, such as water vapour, decreases exactly enough to restore the balance.  Thus, changes in the global mean temperature are only caused by external changes in energy such as the solar cycles, Earth's core, planetary orbital mechanics and cosmic ray intensity.  The microscopic fraction of our atmosphere made up of carbon dioxide may change slightly, but does not cause climate change.  Thus, we don't need to worry about our emissions unless they are noxious, such as particulates, sulfides or other compounds proven to harm man's health.

If the government would get out of the business of science, get out of the business of handling garbage and get out of the business of producing energy, then the worries listed by the Environment Commissioner would be proven false by the population making their own choices in life and the government could get out of the environmental business too.

No comments:

Post a Comment