To the Editor:
In response to the July 10 editorial on funding low-cost energy, I would say keep in mind that the EPA's new regulations calling for a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from stationary power plants - 30 percent or more in some cases - is essentially worthless.
From what I gather, about 95 percent of the greenhouse gas effect comes from water vapor. Only 0.117 percent of the greenhouse effect is due to man-made atmospheric carbon dioxide. (These figures take into account the heat-retention capabilities of the gases; water vapor holds a lot more heat than CO2). If we assume 50 percent of this manmade CO2 is coming from coal-fired power plants, that brings the CO2 figure down to 0.0585 percent of the total greenhouse effect worldwide from coal. If we assume the U.S.A. burns about 13 percent of the coal worldwide, the figure goes to 0.0076 percent.
To me, this amount seems so puny that even the natural variability of the ocean's CO2 absorption/emission cycle rates would render the man-made CO2 figure meaningless, especially when you consider that the oceans hold 60 times more CO2 than the atmosphere, and act as a giant heat-sink storage reservoir, releasing and absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere depending on temperature differentials at the air-sea interface. As sea temperatures go up, more CO2 is released, and vise versa. So as the sun, which pumps far more heat into the earth than man ever can, heats the oceans, we will see a great quantity of CO2 being released, depending on cloud reflectivity and airborne particulates, etc.
Shut down every coal-fired plant in the U.S.A. and you'll accomplish nothing, except destroy thousands of coal-related jobs in mining, railroading and power generation.
Keep in mind also that China burns more coal than the U.S., Europe and Japan combined. And even if China stopped burning coal, we should see little or no effect on climate.
However, there was one "big polluter" that did have an effect on climate; the 1815 eruption of Mt. Tambora, which caused the disastrous "Year without Summer" in 1816 in the northern hemisphere. Even the snow was pink or brown in various countries.
In summary: It's the sun and ocean, and sometimes volcanoes that change climate, not man's puny efforts. No need to destroy jobs over some "politically correct" fad.