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Effects of climate change on the consumer


An article regarding research into converting methane into carbon dioxide so as to help combat climate change.


An article regarding manufacturing cement out of materials other than limestone so as to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.


I am a bit skeptical about this one as methane breaks down into CO2 and water in the atmosphere over time. The US National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration indicates that it has a life of about 8-9 years. Such technologies would only impact on the amount in the atmosphere in the 8-9 year period and wouldn’t possibly affect long term methane levels.

What is evident from the above link is the amount of methane released to the atmosphere on a year by year (maybe 8-9 year window) has been increasing over the past centuries. If methane was not released or the amount entering the atmosphere returned to pre-modern times, the level of methane would return to historical levels in a short period (8-9 years).

Rather than converting methane, maybe preventing or capturing anthropogenic fugitive methane releases may be a better option?


An article regarding research into a buiilding product derived from timber which reflects and radiates heat and can be as strong as metal.


I don’t see how that follows, could you explain your reasoning?


There is plenty that can be done…But 1 thing i want to see happen in all cities in the world is to have electric cars only to be allowed.I believe next year in London they will be doing exactly that unless it’s delayed.Smog is a huge issue in some cities and is a concern even reports now are saying that people in China are now dying a little younger thanks to smog.Many more people down the track will have solar on there homes and then they will be able to charge up there car when they are at home.But as i say there are so many things as a consumer you can do


Particulates from burning fossil fuel is a huge contributor to cardiovascular and lung problems. We may have stopped filling city air with lead but not with fine particles. Living downwind near a coal-fired power station will shorten your life quite a bit. These effects are not mentioned enough in the talk about burning fossil fuel.

In the Hunter valley a monitoring system has been put in place to detect excessive levels of particulates from mining (not burning) coal. When the levels get too high are the mines ordered to stop? No, people are advised to go indoors.


NOAA has indicated that methane has a life in the atmosphere of about 8-9 years. If fugitive methane can be captured from a known source, then in effect it has removed methane which would have otherwise been around for 8-9 years.

It is interesting to note that methane concentrations in the atmosphere have been steadily increasing even though it has a 8-9 year life. It looks like the new methane being released is increasing rather than a constant. This could be due to things like landfills, draining or low lying lands etc where methane emissions from these sources compound that which is occuring from past activities, and still releasing methane.


Indeed. So absorbing some unknown amount of methane does not mean:

“Such technologies would only impact on the amount in the atmosphere in the 8-9 year period and wouldn’t possibly affect long term methane levels.”

The impact would depend on the rate of absorption and the rate of discharge as well as the natural life of the gas. There is no reason that this would happen in 8-9 years. Without knowing the relative rates of removal and discharge you can’t even say if the net result would be a reduction in concentration.


I think the article you referenced attributes the increased methane to human activities.
It is estimated that up to 60% of the current methane flux from land to the atmosphere is the result of human activities. Some of these activities include emissions from fermentation processes associated with livestock, from cultivated rice paddies, from fossil fuel use and biomass burning, and from landfills.


You mean have us all walking around with tubes up our - actually, shouldn’t it be the cows and sheep?

I understand that thawing permafrost is one source, but the increasing global population and its increasing appetite for meat is a major source of methane.


Most methane from cattle comes from burps not farts. There are various projects under way to find a way to alter their digestion through diet to reduce this.

Another large source of fugitive emissions is from methane gas extraction and coal mining.

All well heads and pipes have some leaks, fracking can open up pathways so that gas escapes from the ground, there can be blow outs or deliberate venting. There is no requirement to properly monitor such emissions in Oz so we lack accurate on the ground data but some studies OS suggest it is significant. The CSIRO did a sample study that was pathetic in that the sample was tiny and only of wells designated by the owner!

In shallow open cut coal mines most coal bed methane escaped long ago but deeper open cut and underground mining can release significant amounts as the seams are cut.


I didn’t specify where the tubes would go :wink: .

Yep, I’ve experienced these.

Wait - TMI?


They can also contain and release large volumes of CO2 the result of decomposition of the coal.

Detailed exploration and sampling of coal leases prior to mining include of the assessment of entrapped gases. Detailed knowledge is important in determining mining requirements. Hence a reliable estimate of the volumes likely to be liberated could be determined in advance. It might require ongoing work to ensure losses from wastes are also accounted for.

Coal to a limited extent continues to release trapped gases or decompose once mined and during transport or storage. Environmentally less significant than the final use, there are potential impacts at all stages that need to be considered. This is not an anti coal message. The consumption of any resource has an impact on the environment.

Many of these measures are provided indirectly, and as some suggest, subject to error or mis-statement!

It might help if consumers had a more direct way of understanding the true cost to the consumer and effect to the environment of the consumption of each resource or product?


A very interesting article regarding climate change.


For most purposes we can assume that once mined all the carbon in coal will be released as CO2. That doesn’t mean it must be released as part of the intended purpose of thermal or metallurgical coal, spontaneous combustion is another possibility. The exception is where some coal is rejected and re-buried, such as where there are small plies of lower quality coal between the targeted material.


I understand and agree that is the overall outcome.

In respect of how the National Accounts of Greenhouse Gas Emissions are determined, the CO2 created in using the coal at the end user is determined from the energy conversion at that point. Any carbon or fuel value lost prior is not accounted for in that determination.

The only way of currently accounting for the CO2 produced from the decomposition of coal during transport/stockpiling is as a fugitive emission.

It is also common for free CO2 to occur buried underground with the coal seams, and trapped in the strata in the same way as methane is trapped in the strata. This CO2 is liberated more directly simply by the mining, breaking the strata. It is a well now and deadly hazard associated with underground mining of coal in Australia. It is generally associated with prior decomposition or gradual process of formation of the coal seams. It is not part of the carbon measure of the coal as a resource.

It’s not clear at least in the level of reporting I have read how the potential for decomposition of seams or partings that are exposed and not recovered in mining operations is considered.

The in depth knowledge of each operation and past operations is primarily with each mining company. For some mines there may be minimal CO2 production. For others measurable, and hence relatable volumes over an extended period of time. While small as a percentage compared to the carbon in coal, the impact locally is more significant given most of Australia’s coal is exported. The carbon cost of consumption of exported coal is not on Australia’s account, however all of the production related outputs are.

How might this affect the consumer? It’s another carbon source that the nation needs to consider and reduce or offset, for as long as coal mining remains a source of national income and wealth creation.


Some more interesting perspectives on the issue at hand. I’m not necessarily endorsing either article, I just thought they would make for interesting discussion.


Re the Twin Cities report I think I mentioned much of this on 19 Feb, no need to repeat.

So far the only practical consequence I see in Oz is big winemakers musing about moving to vineyards further south or higher altitude. Now I am all for maintaining supply of good plonk but has anybody seen such thoughts from our staple growers, wheat for instance? The AWB agonises over weather but I can’t find anything about climate. Are they waiting for certainty of are too many members in denial?


One of the ‘quiet’ issues in this year’s federal election was that Australian companies want certainty. They know things have to be done both to meet Australia’s international commitments (for a third year in a row our emissions went up!) but also to save human civilisation and the money they can make from it.

And it appears that some farmers are very much pushing for real action to limit climate change.