YP Letters: Misunderstanding of a basic concept of global warming

Does UK energy policy have a bright future?
Does UK energy policy have a bright future?
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From: Dr John D Rayner, Humberdale Drive, North Ferriby.

IN the space of less than 12 paragraphs, Bernard Ingham (The Yorkshire Post, December 16) once again displays his misunderstanding of a basic essential concept regarding global warming.

He states that CO2 is a greenhouse gas (correct) but later refers to CO2-rich wood pellets (biomass) as if burning these is no different to burning coal (incorrect). This is the nub of his ignorance: the carbon content of biomass (sustainable fuel) is significantly distinct from that of coal and other fossil fuels (unsustainable).

Biomass carbon derives from the CO2 absorbed by plants (trees, crops, etc) as they grow, and returns to the atmosphere on combustion to be absorbed again by future plant growth in an infinitely sustainable cycle.

If trees and other plants are left to die and decay naturally, their carbon content will return to the atmosphere in any case, but without providing useful energy to society along the 
way. The contrast with fossil fuels is quite simply that fossil carbon comes from CO2 absorbed by plants (coal) and indirectly by animals (oil, gas) prior to their formation many millions of years ago – since when that carbon has been locked away from the biosphere and atmosphere, which have evolved to a climate equilibrium currently rather different to that pertaining prehistorically.

Our rapid releasing of that sequestered fossil carbon back into the atmosphere is not a sustainable part of our planet’s current atmospheric cycle, and thus represents a serious threat to climatic stability. May I please through your columns implore all commentators in future to recognise the fundamental distinction between “current budget” sustainable carbon and “historic capital budget” unsustainable fossil carbon: all CO2 is not equivalent.

From: DM Loxley, Hartoft, Pickering,

MPs have voted to allow shale gas fracking in National Parks. I have to assume that this will include SSSIs and AONBs. This will be seen by many as a desecration of our beautiful countryside and a revocation of the principles of protecting such places.

It will, however, be heavily supported by ‘the taxpayer’ and it will keep many in employment and increase GDP. It might, also. hide a deeper truth. Since the UK does not have a cogent energy policy, this might suggest that our energy security is more parlous than we might wish to believe.