Quo Vadis CO2
By Steven J. Grisafi, PhD.
At times several economics professors have lamented the myopia of the common man regarding our inability to take action addressing climate change. The good professors seem to think that the common man is being misled from his best interests by conspiratorial, evil conservative forces. Unfortunately, the good professors fail to recognize that their worry over climate change is a luxury working class people cannot afford. As someone with deep knowledge of chemistry, I can only smile when I read a blog post by an economics professor that natural gas is preferred to other hydrocarbon based fuels because its heat content is greater. While it is true that the vicinity within which a carbon to hydrogen bond finds itself has some minor effect upon the strength of that bond, a carbon-hydrogen bond has the same energy regardless of whether that bond is within a solid, a liquid, or a gas. The real issue is that there are fewer impurities to be found in natural gas as a fuel source, than there are in either petroleum or coal. However, all hydrocarbon fuels yield carbon dioxide as exhaust. All economics professors seem to abhor carbon emissions and thereby demand constraints be placed upon the public to limit this exhaust. Yet, the abundance of natural gas, now found available within the United States through the process of fracking, has changed the climate change discussion from arguing against carbon dioxide emissions to an acceptance of natural gas exhaust. Cleaner emissions are to be preferred over exhaust with particulate matter and non-carbon impurities, but the carbon dioxide emissions obtained from breaking a carbon to hydrogen chemical bond are no different whether that chemical bond resides within solid, liquid, or gaseous form. Hence, we hear the false argument regarding a difference in heat content, which comforts the conscience of those who would ignore the carbon dioxide emissions of natural gas combustion.