Another photoshopped image of “carbon pollution”

I recently received an email that pointed to a Financial Post article on the EPA’s latest GHG emissions rule. At the top of the linked article was another one of these badly photoshopped images that attempt to portray power plant emissions in a terrifying light.

The caption for the photo read, “Power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S., accounting for about a third of the annual emissions that make the U.S. the second largest contributor to global warming on the planet.” The photo was titled “carbonemissions.jpg.”

Take a look at the picture and judge for yourself.

Source: Financial Post - June 2, 2014. The photo was titled "Carbon Emissions"

Source: Financial Post / Getty Images – June 2, 2014. The photo was titled “Carbon Emissions”

Anyone with even an elementary knowledge of power generation will recognize that the picture shows four cooling towers and the “pollution” coming from the towers is nothing more than water vapor. However, it seems quite clear that the photographer, or someone in the line between the photographer and the Financial Post has Photoshopped the background, darkening it so it appears polluted, ominous and frightening.

Of course the greenhouse gas that the EPA claims to be targeting with its latest (so-called) clean power rule is CO2, which is colorless and odorless. More importantly CO2 is also essential to life on the planet. As Dr. Craig Idso, from the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, noted in his article in Issue 1, 2014 of American Coal magazine,

Atmospheric CO2 is the building block of life. It is the primary raw material or “food” that plants utilize during the process of photosynthesis to construct their tissues and grow.  And, as conclusively demonstrated in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, the modern rise in CO2 is benefiting the biosphere in multiple ways.

For those who will claim that this statement ignores the need to address pollution associated with the use of coal. The coal industry invested approximately $118 billion in emissions reduction technologies from the early 1970’s to 2013. That number has grown to over $130 billion recently as the industry has begun to address the upcoming Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) regulation. Expectations are that a further $100 billion will be invested over the next decade to address the many other regulations being brought in by the EPA and other agencies. As this graph of USDA and EPA data shows, those investments have been very effective.


Clean Coal Technology Improves Air Quality

Clean Coal Technology Improves Air Quality

The reality is that the photograph of the cooling towers shown above is an example of a profound and dangerous ignorance about the generation of power on which we as a society rely for the basic essentials of our lives. Without this essential power generation resource, we would not have affordable and reliable access to heating/air conditioning, lights, communications, the internet, as well as most medical treatments, modern agriculture, transportation, etc.

So intrepid Coalblog readers, when you see this sort of thing in the media, please send a polite email, or make a polite comment below the article to let them know that they are degrading their journalistic standards by perpetrating a myth about fossil fuel energy. Hopefully they will begin to recognize this error and correct it.

If you don’t speak up, this sort of myth-building will only get worse.

18. July 2014 by Jason Hayes
Categories: carbon, CCT, Climate Change, Education, Energy, Environment, EPA, Marketplace Information, Policy, Power Generation, Regulation, Utilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Another photoshopped image of “carbon pollution”