I tuned into Thursday (Oct. 22, 2020) evening’s (6 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time starting time) presidential candidates’ debate (full disclosure: This one had the look, feel and sound of an actual debate) and I watched and listened quite attentively to its content as presented by both candidates, particularly as it had to do with the questions asked of each by the debate moderator (in this instance NBC’s Kristen Welker) about environmental matters and more specifically about climate change. I wanted to hear what the incumbent (President Donald Trump) and challenger (former Vice-President Joe Biden) both had to say.
Former Vice-President Biden opened, if I remember correctly, with the proclamation that climate change is an existential threat. He also mentioned that there was only about 10 years left to get this solved, as I recall.
Then came the question to the former Vice-President, again, if I correctly recall, about how he intends to get climate under control. A whole host of resolutions were rattled off.
Each candidate was trying to make their cases for the positions they held. And understandably so.
One thing stood out in that exchange having to do with fossil fuels and their production and that can be summed up in one word: transition. As in transitioning off of fossil fuels, not immediately mind you, but over time, this being the position of the former Vice-President, his position made abundantly clear based on what I remember.
I suspect that the President wasn’t buying it.
Now, almost a day later, I am thinking there were plenty of solutions that could have been presented, but recollecting that there was a two-minute time allotment to answer questions and even less time allowed for rebuttals, there wasn’t time enough, obviously, to include everything.
Which is why I am taking the time and devoting the space right here to further discussion.
Focusing on gasoline production, if it takes more energy to produce a gallon of gasoline through processes like extracting and transporting the oil or tar sands and what-not, in its unrefined state compared to the energy produced or released when ignited, my thinking is: where’s the logic in that?!
Meanwhile, back on Jun. 16, 2015 I posted: “Review: ‘Cooling It! No Hair Shirt Solutions to Global Warming’” on the Air Quality Matters blog. Below is a relevant excerpt.
“[Book author Gar] Lipow further observes that in producing one unit of electricity from fossil-fuel generation sources such as that of burning coal in a coal-fired power plant, as a result of said fuel being ignited, almost three units of this non-renewable fossil fuel is expended during the burning portion of the process. (It is unnecessarily wasteful in my view). Viewed conversely, what this means is that approximately two thirds of the energy involved in the electricity-production process from fossil-fuel sources is going up in smoke, contributing to global warming from the introduction of increased amounts of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.”
And while we’re on the subject of carbon, get a load of this. A gallon of gasoline, which weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of six-and-a-quarter pounds, well, as far as content goes, 80 percent of that is carbon. That equates to 5 pounds of carbon per gasoline gallon.
And what does this mean?
I’ll tell you what it means. What it means is that on a per-year basis in the United States what with 147 billion gallons of gasoline being consumed regardless of source (car, motorcycle, scooter, lawnmower, edger, blower, what-have-you), if that is multiplied by 5 pounds of carbon, that’s a whopping 735 billion pounds of carbon entering our air from all corresponding sources annually.
And my guess as to why scaling back fossil fuel use is such a hot-button topic.
That being the case I can definitely understand why on the controversial climate change/global warming issue, former Vice-President Biden feels as strongly as he does.
Image above: NOAA
– Alan Kandel