LETTER: Less cars key to fighting climate change

LETTER: Less cars key to fighting climate change

As a scientist, it seems that David Suzuki has a very narrow view of global warming. CO2 may well be a contributor, but it is minor and the overriding factor is a consequence of our self-indulgence.

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There are several significant factors, principally industry, construction, transportation, population growth and natural phenomena. We are effectively a ball with a molten core hurtling through space. The only way we lose heat is from our surface. This is essentially constant as is the temperature of the space around us. Our main source of heat is the sun and through our core with volcanic activity.

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Heat is a form of energy. Every motion we make generates heat. An electric car is not much better than a fossil fuel car. Both are less than five per cent efficient. Both weigh 2,000 kg and can transport a 100-kg person with groceries from one point to another. The remaining 95 per cent is car plus engine or battery. That energy is wasted and shows up as heat.

Taking a step back, the extraction of fuels from oil or tar generates even more heat; the extraction of minerals and concrete production the same. Burning of fossil fuels is exothermic, more heat. Simply working out at the gym, creates yet more heat.

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It should be easy to calculate what the heat loss is from the surface of the earth. It’s a function of the surface area, the temperature difference, and a factor termed the heat transfer coefficient.

If this is exceeded then the world as we know it heats up. We have to stabilize the population, and more importantly, decrease our need for transportation and disposable consumables. This means staying closer to home, buying fewer widgets, smaller lighter cars or just no cars. Fewer cars means fewer aircraft. A barrel of oil produces a fixed ratio of gasoline to aviation fuel to diesel with some small degree of flexibility. You can’t have one without the other.

This brings us back to CO2. Reduce our dependence on transportation, be it fossil fuel or electric, and needless plastic imports and we reduce our energy production and CO2 emissions with it.

Anthony Rose