The Difference between Pollution and CO2 Emissions


Are these the same things? Many people that don’t worry about global warming worry about pollution. Others believe that saving energy will reduce pollution because CO2 emissions will be lower. Unfortunately pollution and CO2 are separate and independent things. In fact, many solutions for lowering CO2 result in more pollution.

Ethanol is a great example of this. The amount of pollution involved in the creation of ethanol is immense when all things are considered. From the fertilizer manufacturing, the farming involved in growing whichever crop is being used (often corn in the USA) and finally the processing and transportation. All of these steps are a problem. Fertilizer is a significant water pollution problem in many rivers in the United States and all the excess fertilizer ends up in the oceans where the pollution does cause problems.

All of this is so ethanol can be added into cars to reduce CO2 emissions. The sad part is that ethanol also reduces the efficiency of the gasoline so in the end even more gas is needed and there is no reduction in emissions. Ethanol is one of the worst solutions ever. It helps no one, wastes resources and accomplishes nothing. There is more pollution as a result of ethanol usage than there would be if it was not used.  One very concerning problem with higher ethanol usage is ozone. Burning ethanol causes ozone pollution. In large cities switching over to E85 (85% ethanol blended fuel) would cause significant increases in pollution in those cities.

Inconvenient Skeptic

Ethanol Plant

Ethanol is a losing idea. So why is it still around? People stick with it because it is seen as renewable and something that reduces CO2 emissions. It actually  increases overall pollution. This is a perfect example of a political solution to a perceived problem. Lots of waste, some people make lots of money, but everyone is actually worse off as a result.  All of this without even pointing out what it does to the cost of food.

Many of the proposed solutions to global warming will cause more pollution. Coal can be a problem for pollution, but it can also be used to not cause pollution. What it always does it emit lots of CO2.  Sulfur in coal is primarily what causes pollution in modern coal plants. Since low sulfur coal is being used now, pollution is much, much less. The high sulfur coal was the main source of acid rain. That problem has been solved through a correct understanding of the situation. Limits now exist for SO2 which is the main component for acid rain. That is a success story in combating pollution.

In a great irony, one such proposal to deal with global warming is to add SO2 into the upper atmosphere because the thought is that it would help reduce global warming. So the idea is to cause more pollution in order to prevent global warming.

Inconvenient Skeptic

Increase acid rain to combat global warming? Really?

This is why it is important to understand the science. Trying to solve one “theoretical” problem while creating a real and dangerous problem is what happens when the correct science is not understood. This is where the situation stands today.

Another horrific solution being thrown about is carbon capture. This is pulling CO2 from the atmosphere and pumping it underground as a way to reduce CO2.  Despite the incredible costs and the unknown dangers of such a plan, there are ongoing plans to implement it. Another idea is to dump iron into the oceans to promote algae growth based on the idea that it will help reduce CO2. Both of these solutions create more pollution, but don’t actually solve anything.

I recycle every day. I like a clean Earth. I have done service projects to clean up the environment. When my wife and I are taking a walk and we see trash, we pick it up to make the area we live in a cleaner one. Cleaning up the air and the water is our responsibility when we make the mess.  CO2 is not pollution. It should not be treated like pollution because it is one of the most natural chemicals in the Earth’s atmosphere. The plants need it to survive and as a result so does almost every living being on Earth.  CO2 is not the problem and has never been the problem. Trying to reduce CO2 will cause many known problems and probably some that we cannot anticipate.

People often think that reducing CO2 is about reducing pollution.   CO2 is not pollution.

Posted in Cap & Trade and Science Articles - Global Warming by inconvenientskeptic on October 6th, 2010 at 12:50 am.

2 comments

This post has 2 comments

  1. Richard111 Oct 6th 2010

    Yes, we also recycle everything we can. We actually live a very green life. I harvest rainwater for toilet flushing and help water the wife’s vegetable patch when rain occasionaly fails. I built my house half underground with a high insulation index. My current project is solar water heating but don’t expect much success due weak sun here in the UK.

    For all that I believe very firmly that CO2 is the major chemical in supporting life on this planet (i.e. no CO2 = no O2, think about it) and in no way does it effect climate apart from providing a little cooling of the atmosphere. Sadly, I think we are in for a spell of drastic cooling in just a few years.

  2. Ethanol has never been -seriously- meant as an anti-CO2 measure. It has been pushed several times over the last hundred years. (It was called “agrol” in the ’30s, “gasohol” in the ’70s.)

    Its only purpose is to gain votes in the crucial Iowa caucuses. If Iowa’s primaries had been late in the game, ethanol would never have been imagined, advocated or subsidized.

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