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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 18, 2009 at 6:00 AM

Palin acknowledges global warming

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src=”http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/2009/04/17/2009076164.jpg”

width=”345″ class=”pic” />

Al Grillo / The Associated Press

Alaska Gov, Sarah Palin, shown here speaking to Army personnel during a deployment ceremony in February, recently acknowledged the threat posed by global warming.

Natural gas still produces CO2

Editor, The Times:

I was pleased to see the article “Palin acknowledges global-warming threat” [Times, News, April 15]. However, I believe her assertion that “relatively clean-burning natural gas could supplant dirtier fuels and slow the discharge of greenhouse gasses” is a little misleading.

Natural gas is primarily methane — CH4 (one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms). Like all hydrocarbon fuels, when natural gas burns, it releases CO2 that was sequestered in the Earth millions of years ago when the CO2 level and the temperature were much higher than today. The fine-print word in Gov. Palin’s statement is “slow,” which is true because natural gas has more energy per unit than coal or gasoline.

Another difference to the environment is that other hydrocarbons, such as gasoline and coal (even clean coal), produce significant amounts of other gases and particulates that make the air less healthy for plants and animals.

While natural gas has an edge over other fuels in the amount of CO2 it pulls from the ground, the benefits are small compared to geothermal, solar and wind, which produce no CO2 and do produce biofuels that return CO2 that was recently taken from the atmosphere when the plant was grown.

Finally, from the article it appears that Gov. Palin’s trip to Washington, D.C., was not to talk about global warming. But she was using global warming to lobby for more drilling in her state for traditional hydrocarbons, which could include natural gas. It is also interesting to consider the CO2 impact of transporting and housing the “more than 1,000 Alaskans” who attended the Department of the Interior hearings on additional drilling in Alaska.

— Carl Slater, Seattle

Distorting facts to promote natural-gas leasing

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s statement in a recent article that global warming is harming her state contrasts strongly with the 2009 report from the Alaska Climate Research Center at the University of Alaska, which says that there has been little warming in Alaska since 1977 and that Alaska’s temperatures have actually been trending downward for the last seven years.

Gov. Palin’s statement that global warming is harming Alaska was made at a hearing before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, considering renewed oil and natural-gas leasing on the outer continental shelf. The article indicated that Gov. Palin made the point at the hearing that “relatively clean-burning natural gas could supplant dirtier fuels and slow

the discharge of greenhouse gases.”

Gov. Palin appears to have chosen to distort climate-change trends in Alaska in order to promote renewed oil and natural-gas leasing on the outer continental shelf.

— Ken Schlichte, Tumwater

Comments | More in Environment, Politics

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