Realistic limits on burning fossil fuels necessary

Air is 78 per cent nitrogen, 21 per cent oxygen and 0.9 per cent argon. Gasoline is 87 per cent carbon and 13 per cent hydrogen.

To the Editor,

Air is 78 per cent nitrogen, 21 per cent oxygen and 0.9 per cent argon. Gasoline is 87 per cent carbon and 13 per cent hydrogen.

When you burn gasoline, you chemically bind that carbon with oxygen pulled into your engine, creating CO2.  That is why one gallon of gasoline weighing six pounds, once combusted, produces 19.4 pounds of tailpipe CO2; diesel produces 22.2 pounds.

The sane world has come to understand that 800 billion tons (and growing) of excess anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 is contributing significantly to climate change, but we are just starting to understand a lot of that CO2 is also dissolving into the oceans.

This thermo/chemical reaction is increasing the oceanic hydrogen ion concentration, which is decreasing the ocean’s PH, resulting in ocean acidity increases.  The economic and ecological consequences will likely be dire.

I recognize we must burn fossil fuels to function, but I also know we must, and can, limit how much we burn.

I thought back to what changed my attitude about owning my truck. I started from a position of blissful ignorance, shifted to a short phase of rationalizing excuses, then knowledge won over perceived entitlement and gone was my V8 CO2 belcher in favour of a small fuel-efficient car.

In his book Essays, Renaissance humanist Michel de Montaigne wrote: “Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately.  All other things, ruling, hording, building, are only little appendages and props, at most.”

Ron Heusen


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