Dirty Energy & Fuel

Published on July 27th, 2010 | by Joshua S Hill

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Coal and CO2 Predictions Flawed

July 27th, 2010 by

CO2 emission estimates based on coal and fossil fuel production are pessimistic at best, says new research.

A new study by Tad Patzek, chair of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin, has shown that CO2 emission estimates used for government policy decisions assume unlimited coal and fossil fuel production for the next 100 years.

Patzek says that these assumptions are overly optimistic, and skews climate change models and proposed solutions.

“Governments worldwide are basing their policy decisions on the uninterrupted increase of coal and oil production worldwide,” says Patzek. “These policy decisions will be inherently in error, and will lead to expensive and false technological solutions.”

Patzek found that 36 of the 40 different U.S. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios predicted carbon production and CO2 emissions at today’s rate of coal production.

By contrast, credible forecasts of coal production assume a 50% reduction over the next 50 years. Patzek’s physical model of historical and future production of coal worldwide shows that, despite the large deposits of coal, increasing inaccessibility and decreasing coal seam thickness will deteriorate coal production.

“The IPCC carbon estimates, which are used by all major decision makers, are based on economic and policy considerations that appear to be unconstrained by geophysics,” says Patzek. “The value of our approach is that it provides a reality check on the magnitude of carbon emissions.”

Authors Note – check out my opinion piece regarding Patzek’s research over at Planetsave’s sister site, Red, Green and Blue.

Source: University of Texas

Image Source: ReneS

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.



  • Michael R.

    "U.S. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "…I think you mean "UN" not 'U.S."….Most if not all climate forecasting is based upon extrapolation from current rates of increase or decrease, so, this is not an unusual approach; it is better/wiser to formulate climate policy based on an over-estimation (coal usage, etc), than on an under-estimation. Further, the criticism itself would seem to be based upon current geophysical data, which may itself change as new seams are located (coal and oil exploration is increasing, not decreasing).

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