"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Monday, May 23, 2011

Coal - The Ultimate Hypocrisy

Australia's carbon tax is aiming to reduce our emissions by 5% by 2020 in the fight against "dangerous global warming" no matter what damage is done to our economy.  Australia's direct CO2 emissions in 2008 were 437million tons  and probably are similar to that today - say 500 million tons for example. A reduction of 5% in our emissions would be 25 million tons by 2020.
Australia is the largest exporter of coal in the world and in 2008 exported 250 million tons-  increasing every year!

From a US energy report I found the following information on coal to CO2 conversion.

 Because the atomic weight of carbon is 12 and that of oxygen is 16, the atomic weight of carbon dioxide is 44. Based on that ratio, and assuming complete combustion, 1 pound of carbon combines with 2.667 pounds of oxygen to produce 3.667 pounds of carbon dioxide. For example, coal with a carbon content of 78 percent and a heating value of 14,000 Btu per pound emits about 204.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per million Btu when completely burned.(5) Complete combustion of 1 short ton (2,000 pounds) of this coal will generate about 5,720 pounds (2.86 short tons) of carbon dioxide.

Thus 250 million tons of coal completely burnt will potentially yield 700 million tons of CO2 which is what we are shipping from our shores each and every year.
Therefore our target reduction in CO2 , will be one twenty eighth of what we are exporting every year - directly from our mines to the Chinese atmosphere!
So maybe it is just me but cutting one ton here and exporting 28 tons just doesn't make any sense for a so-called global problem. We could just cut our exports by 10%  a year and globally achieve the same nett effect.
This shows the carbon tax is purely political and will have no effect on Australia's combined real and exported CO2 emissions. If anyone really seriously believed all this malarkey the first thing to do would be to ban  coal exports which would be political suicide .


  1. Off by a factor of a thousand but still a good point... 1/28th (the table is in thousands)

  2. Thx for the tip - missed the scale and have now corrected it. As you have said the point still stands. To tax our emissions and turn a blind eye to our huge exports shows the whole thing as a sham.