• On Fossil Fuels

    Global warming deniers make me mad.  Not because they are wrong, that’s expected.  They are no worse than creationists in that regard.  They may be stupid, or deluded, or in it for the money, or just innocent rubes with no critical thinking skills.  But they piss me off because of their arguments and how close to home (literally) it hits me.

    Now, I’m not going to go into the arguments for global warming.  This is a really good place to start: Realclimate.org. If you are interested in the science, then you can go there and learn a lot.  In this post however, we’re going to look at some other reasons why, even if global warming didn’t exist, it would still be a good idea to get rid of fossil fuels.

    I mentioned that this hits close to home.  I grew up and lived in a refinery town for over 30 years.  My family members all worked for refineries.  I grew up, literally, next door to a refinery.  The waste gas flares would shake the windows at night.

    My high school was across the street from one of the top ten polluting refineries in the US.  My best friend had asthma all through school, he couldn’t participate in any sports because of of it.  He moved away from SE Texas 16 years ago and hasn’t had an attack since.

    My father has a variety of cancers in his face due to refinery work.  You see, the “full body” suits do not cover the face.  He has had 50% of his tongue removed due to an unknown cancer.  Considering he doesn’t smoke or even drink that much, this is surprising.

    So let’s see what global deniers want and why they hate us.

    Not in My Backyard

    First of all, my favorite argument, which basically boils down ‘not in my backyard’.  This is the denier saying how ugly wind turbines are and how solar panels degrade the looks of buildings and the ground.  This is what they don’t like:


    I’ll freely admit that this isn’t pretty.  Besides, the turbines are way too close together and not nearly high enough off the ground (though the scale is hard to judge).  Here’s a more modern wind farm in Spain.

    This, on the other hand is what the deniers want.


    Yeah, that’s soooooo much better.  And let’s save the pollution talk for later on (hint: I wouldn’t put my body in any water within 10 miles of this place).  Pollution is a huge, epic sized point in favor of non-fossil fuel energy, but it’s so big it deserves another post.

    So remember, you guys who live in the mountains and deny global warming cause you got record snows this year… that refinery is what you want.  And by doing so, you are saying that you don’t care anything for the people who work in or live near these hell-holes.

    Oh, here’s another picture, just to keep you warm at night.  And this something that will never happen with wind turbines or solar panels.


    Whoops… looks like someone had a little boo boo.  But that’s what global warming deniers want.  They want the people near these refineries to die slow horrible deaths… or quick ones.

    What About Deaths!?!?!?

    People die in refineries.  There have been 46 deaths in refineries from 1988 – 2004 (according to that one source).  Now this only includes direct causes (explosions and fires).  It does not include the 15 dead at the Texas City BP explosion, because those were not refinery employees, but outside contractors.  It does not include incidents with fewer than 3 people killed.  It does not include injuries (over 100 at Texas City in 2005).  It is not international.  It does not include deaths related to cancer, asbestosis, or any of a hundred other diseases that refinery employees regularly get.  Note that many of these diseases can be applied not only to refinery employees, but to the communities around the refineries.  If you think no one would build a city next to a refinery, well just come visit SE Texas.

    According to this: http://www.wind-works.org/articles/BreathLife.html (and I freely admit that this is a nebulous source, but this data is difficult to find.  There have been 12 deaths in the US directly attributable to wind turbines.  All of them workers in the industry.

    What are Waste Gas Flares

    I mentioned waste gas flares earlier.  Those of you not familiar with the refinery industry don’t know what these are.  Here are two pictures.

    This is the burning of excess hydrocarbons (and rarely chemicals).  Wait, burning excess hydrocarbons?  Why would anyone burn this stuff?  We need it don’t we?

    Yes, we do.  However, flares are exceedingly important to the life of a refinery.  You see, excess pressures often build up beyond the ability of the refinery infrastructure (pipes and pumps) to handle.  The excess pressure is dumped into the flare.

    If the pressure isn’t relieved through what is basically a giant Bunsen burner, the refinery could explode.  Yeah, I’ll take the flare over an explosion, especially since I lived next to a refinery.

    But, fuel is wasted.  The energy of that fuel is wasted.  Pollution is generated.  All for no return.

    Some Hard Questions for Global Warming Deniers

    How about the toxic fumes that literally stripped the pantyhose of women’s legs as they walked to class (Lamar University)?

    How about the river that is so polluted by oil and chemical dumping that ships would travel up it to kill all the barnacles on their hulls? (Neches River circa 1975)

    Do you want your kids to go to high school across the street from one of the top five polluting refineries in the US (top 10 in the world)?

    Have you ever been confined to your house for two days because of an explosion or fire at a nearby refinery?

    You want to come with me to my mom’s house and read a newspaper at midnight by the light of the waste-gas flares?  How about listening to the windows rattle because of it?

    Have you ever seen a car that has parked in a refinery lot for a few years, with all the paint stripped off the hood, top, and trunk by chemical fumes?

    How about the direct deaths caused by explosions and toxic leaks in refineries?

    How about the indirect deaths from cancer, asbestosis and dozens of other diseases?

    You want to talk about the billions of dollars wasted when oil tankers ran aground or oil rigs failed and all the wildlife deaths caused by it and the shrimpers and crabbers who couldn’t work because of it?

    None of that would happen with wind and solar power.  None of it.  Everything on that list is preventable.

    Oil is disgusting.  If you don’t believe me, come stay with us for a few days and let’s go on a tour of SE Texas.

    It’s not just about global warming.  It’s about pollution.  It’s about quality of life.  It’s about sustainable living.

    Category: CultureEvironmentLifeSocietyTechnology


    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat