July 27th, 2010 by Joshua S Hill
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
Keep up to date with all the most interesting green news on the planet by subscribing to our (free) Planetsave newsletter.