Coal and Carbon

March 26, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

Two items follow. Thanks to Jeff Ramsey for the link to a recent paper by Jennifer Ellis on the effects of subsidies for fossil fuels and the need for reform. See where you can download the report. In this report, Jennifer Ellis provides a detailed literature review, focusing on the six modeling studies in the last 20 years that have attempted to analyze global impacts of subsidies for all fuels. The studies mostly considered effects on greenhouse gas emissions and gross domestic product, but very little of the work has considered other environmental impacts or social impacts. The paper highlights a number of areas where further research should be undertaken but concludes that there is already enough evidence to demonstrate the significant environmental and economic benefits of phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies, and recommends that policy-makers do not delay in beginning the reform process.

Climate Central ( has an interesting nine-minute video on their website. The following story accompanies the film.

Coal and Carbon

Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel and the least expensive one used to generate electricity in the U.S. It’s also the source of many local problems, including those caused by strip mining and mountaintop removal, as well as disposal of toxic coal ash. But the biggest threat of all may be to the entire planet: burning coal releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, or CO2—and carbon dioxide is a major contributor to climate change.

Scientists say if the world continues emitting carbon dioxide following current trends, the average global temperature could rise by 7 degrees Fahrenheit or more by the year 2100, and by 9 degrees or more in the U.S. The oceans, expanding as they warm and flooded with melt-water from glaciers and ice sheets on land, could rise between two and five feet.

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