Follow Countercurrents on Twitter 


Support Us

Popularise CC

Join News Letter




Editor's Picks

Press Releases

Action Alert

Feed Burner

Read CC In Your
Own Language

Bradley Manning

India Burning

Mumbai Terror

Financial Crisis


AfPak War

Peak Oil



Alternative Energy

Climate Change

US Imperialism

US Elections


Latin America









Book Review

Gujarat Pogrom

Kandhamal Violence


India Elections



Submission Policy

About Us


Fair Use Notice

Contact Us

Search Our Archive


Our Site


Subscribe To Our
News Letter

Name: E-mail:


Printer Friendly Version

“Expert Witness Testimony To Stop Gas-Fired Power Plant Installation”

By Dr Gideon Polya

14 June, 2013

Despite the worsening global warming crisis due to ever-increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, the world is paradoxically experiencing a gas boom and a gas a rush throughout the world. While the world urgently needs to implement 100% renewable energy and concomitantly decrease and eventually cease GHG pollution, massive corporate spin falsely asserts that “gas is clean” and that a first step to a clean energy future is to replace coal burning for power with gas burning.  These are extraordinary falsehoods because methane (CH4; a major constituent of natural gas) leaks (2-8% in the US ) and has a Global Warning Potential (GWP) 105 times greater than that of carbon dioxide (CO2) on a 20 year time frame and considering aerosol impacts.  Thus, depending upon the degree of gas leakage, burning gas for power can be much dirtier GHG-wise than burning coal [1].

Nevertheless, the egregious falsehoods that “gas is clean”, that “gas burning is cleaner greenhouse gas-wise than coal burning” and that “a coal to gas transition is a way to tackle climate change” have massive currency in the capitalist Murdochracies, Lobbyocracies and Corporatocracies in which Big Money buys politicians, parties, policies, public perception of reality and political power.  As a consequence, gas burning for power is remorselessly increasing through the construction and operation of gas-fired power plants (GFPPs). However such plants have to be located somewhere and in an increasingly crowded world that often means location near small suburbs or towns. While the populations of cities have the requisitely massive collective political muscle to stop such contiguous sources of massive and toxic pollution emission, small towns and urban fringe suburbs are much more vulnerable to the gas juggernaut.

Modern societies have Environment Protection Authorities (EPAs), Departments of the Environment, and other regulatory bodies and laws dedicated to protecting human health, human amenity and the environment from toxic pollution of the atmosphere.  Citizens faced with proposals to introduce massive sources of pollution into their locality will have to enter into political lobbying at the local government, state government and national government levels and finally enter the legal processes for opposing installation of gas-fired power plants. The legal processes can be very expensive and the Big Guns on the side of anti-pollution citizens' action groups will typically be like-minded town or shire local governments. Depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the litigation involved, the legal processes of appeal and counter-appeal can be complex, very expensive and constrained in relation to allowable grounds for complaint and argument.

However small communities faced with the conflation of corporate greed and Corporatist Establishments can defend themselves by exposing the Truth – the Truth that, while it can be subjected to bald contradiction and spin, will simply never go away. Indeed while high polluting countries like the US , Australia and Canada still refuse to seriously tackle climate change, it is clear that they will eventually be forced to severely curtail and thence stop fossil fuel burning. Thus while fossil fuel burning corporations may continue to win in the immediate short term, in the longer term (e.g. within 10 years) their investment into abominations such as a $1 billion, 40-year-lifetime, 1,000 MW, gas-fired power plant (GFPP) will prove to be very transient, uneconomic and expensive.  

Communities can lobby, and while they don't have the power of the Corporatist oligopoly media they have the power of one-man-one-vote democracy applying to various levels of government. Indeed the Corporatist Establishment is not a united church and it is likely that a corporate developer gaining approval to build a $1 billion, 40-year-lifetime, 1,000 MW, gas-fired power plant (GFPP) will have gained this licence to pollute at the expense of other major corporate greenhouse gas polluters, in particular coal- and oil-based energy generation, cement manufacture, fossil fuel-based transport, other industrial polluters, forestry, and agriculture (notably methanogenic livestock production). Indeed any such approval of fossil fuel-based power generation will also have finite impacts on societal fundamentals such as population growth, economic growth and retention of the value of retirement investments.

Ultimately, communities will end up opposed to corporate developers in court in David and Goliath legal processes. While corporations can afford the very top legal counsel charging $10,000 per hearing day, small communities can acquire brilliant, young legal counsel charging $1,000 per hearing day but with everything to gain from the combat in terms of experience and professional exposure. Again, while corporations can afford the very best of Expert Witnesses to argue their case in court at a cost of $10,000 to $100,000 each, small communities can call upon dedicated Expert Witnesses who will be prepared to research and present the Court with alternative considerations for no charge at all and who will be simply inspired by a sense of social responsibility and the aphorism attributed to Edmund Burke that “evil happens when good men do nothing”.

Indeed this analysis derives in part from my experience as a much-published, 5-decade career biological  chemist acting as an Expert Witness (free of charge of course) for concerned citizens in giving  carefully researched evidence in court against the imposition on rural town residents of hugely polluting gas-fired power generation.

While the emphasis and procedurally or legally allowable grounds for discussion may differ in the various jurisdictions (e.g.  those in the various jurisdictions and specialist courts in America and the British Commonwealth), in general the major issues to be considered in the court would be negative impacts of a proposed gas-fired power station (GFPP) on (A) human health, (B) human amenity (e.g. finances, happiness, visual amenity, and rural versus industrial quality of life) and (C) the environment (flora, fauna, ecosystems, greenhouse gas pollution,  global warming and climate change). Some key lines of evidence under these three headings for activists, legal counsel and Expert Witnesses are outlined below as a public service.

(A). Detriment to human health.

1. Gas-fired power plants (GFPPs) are clean-er than coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) in the sense that per unit of electrical energy they emit lower amounts of pollutants such as  the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), and the very toxic pollutants carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen  oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulates (fine soot to ultrafine particles), and heavy metals such as mercury (Hg). Thus a ccording to Naturalgas.org [2], the fossil fuel-derived pollutant emissions levels (in pounds per Btu of energy input) are as follows (noting that this is for average gas burning and not specifically for gas-turbine power stations) - for CO2: 117,000 (gas), 164,000 (oil) and 208,000 (coal); for CO: 40 (gas), 33 (oil) and 208 (coal); for NOx: 92 (gas), 448 (oil) and 457 (coal); for SO2:  1 (gas), 1,122 (oil), and 2,591 (coal); for particulates: 7 (gas), 84 (oil) and 2,744 (coal); and for Hg: 0.000 (gas), 0.007 (oil) and 0.016 (coal). In addition, radioactive material is a significant pollutant from coal burning but not from gas burning.  However, while Hg and radioactivity are negligible pollutants  for gas burning and SO2 emission is very low, CO2, NOx and particulate matter (PM) are significant pollutants from GFPPs. Qualitatively, in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and  emission of toxic pollutants, gas burning is certainly not clean – indeed it is dirty GHG-wise and dangerous to human health [1].

2. These days in the US gas-fired power stations on average produce about 0.475 t CO2 /MWh (versus the current 1.4 t CO2/MWh for coal-fired power stations). Accordingly, a 1,000 MW gas-fired power station operating at a capacity factor of 100%  (i.e. operating at 100% of full annual capacity as compared to the realistic 90% capacity factor) would produce 0.475 tCO2 per MWh x 1,000 MW x 1.0 (capacity factor) x 365 days per year x 24 hours per day  =  4,161,000 t CO2/year. 3. From the relative data in 1 and the CO2 emissions data in 2 above, one can estimate that a 1,000 MW GFPP at 100% capacity factor would each year produce 4,161,000 t CO2 x 40 t CO/117,000 tCO2 = 1,422.6 t CO; 4,161,000 t CO2 x 92 t NOx/117,000 tCO2 = 3,271.9 t NOx ; 4,161,000 t CO2 x 1 t SO2/117,000 tCO2 = 35.6 t SO2; and  4,161,000 t CO2 x 7 t particulate matter (PM)/117,000 tCO2 = 248.9 t PM.

4. For a small, non-industrial rural town with a population of 10,000 people one can estimate that the annual CO2 pollution from oil-based transport would be 71,857 t CO2. Accordingly, the annual transport oil burning-derived pollution would be 71,857 t CO2 x 33t CO/ 164,000 t CO2 = 14.5 t CO; 71,857 t CO2 x 448t NOx/ 164,000 t CO2 = 196.3 t NOx; 71,857 t CO2 x 1,122t SO2/ 164,000 t CO2 = 491.6 t SO2; and 71,857 t CO2 x 84 t particulate matter (PM)/ 164,000 t CO2 = 36.8 t PM.

5. We can accordingly compare the annual pollutant output from oil burning for transport in our notional rural town with the huge pollutant output from the proposed 1,000 MW GFPP within the town limits (the latter in parenthesis): 14.5 t CO (1,422.6 t CO or 98 times more); 196.3 t NOx (3,271.9 t NOx or 17 times more); 491.6 t SO2 (35.6 t SO2 or 0.07 times less); and 36.8 t PM (248.9 t PM or 6.8 times more).  

6. Crucially, while vehicle-derived pollution is emitted at ground level, that from a GFPP is emitted at high velocity via a 30 metre high stack. Accordingly, the degree of atmospheric dispersion becomes critical. Dispersion is typically modeled by complex, theoretical equations having the general form C (pollutant concentration at coordinates x, y and z) = F (a complex mathematical function involving x, y and z) X O (pollutant output from the stack) / W (wind speed). Pollution at a given spot will be greater the higher the output and the lower the wind speed. Proponents of highly polluting plants will model dispersion and regulators will assess pollutant output at the stack and similarly model consequent ground level pollution. However, as discussed below, modeling alone is surely insufficient – local residents require hard, empirical data from similar GFPPs to provide assurance that safety limits are not being exceeded on an hourly, daily or annual basis. To quote an important Australian regulator: “The main outcomes of land-use planning that are of interest in managing air quality are the separation of heavy industry and residential or other areas that may be adversely affected by industrial activities” [3]. It must be further noted that any pollutants dispersed from the locality of a GFPP have to end up somewhere else with likely adverse outcomes.

7. Science involves the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses (models). Models are tested in the scientific process and if found to be incompatible with experimental data are consequently altered to be more consonant with reality. Sole reliance by polluters or indeed regulators on dispersion modeling is grossly insufficient. Thus manufacturers of processed foods for human ingestion have to measure and report the levels of additives. Regulators must perform analyses to check on compliance and serious action is taken over non-compliance. Converse examples of non-compliance include the Toxic Oil Syndrome associated with the adulterated Spanish  olive oil disaster in which 600 people died  [4]   and the New Zealand case in which 2 New Zealand schoolgirls determined that Ribena blackcurrant cordial contained almost no vitamin C contrary to the  claims of  the manufacturer [5]. In view of the huge amount of pollutants being produced by a 1,000 MW GFPP there is a clear need for hard empirical data from similar GFPPs to allay health fears. However there is a paucity of such publicly-accessible data world-wide [6].

8. The World Health Organization (WHO) safety limits for ground level CO, NOx and PM (e.g. PM10 are less than 10 micrometer in diameter)  in micrograms per cubic meter are 10,000 for  CO (8 hour mean), 40 for NOx (annual mean),  10 for PM2.5 (annual mean) and 20 for PM10 (annual mean) [7]. However observed levels of CO, NOx and PM10 in a typical urban area can be 20%, 35% and 75%, respectively, of these safety limits in the absence of a 1,000 MW GFPP. Given the enormously increased additional output pollution produced by such a GFPP (see above) there is a real fear than these safety limits will be exceeded, this reinforcing the crucial demand that ground level pollution in the vicinity of similar GFPPs should be determined. These standards are routinely exceeded in Beijing [8].

9. Further to the above concerns about safety limits being exceeded, one notes that human beings are different and some people (e.g. asthmatics and those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)) may be particularly susceptible to pollutants produced by a GFPP [9].

10. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly toxic gas that acts by binding to haemoglobin and thus preventing oxygen (O2) transport from the lungs to tissues [10]. CO in urban areas can approach 10% of the safe level, and a 1000 MW GFPP will emit about 1,400 t CO annually, this emphasizing the need for measurement of ground level CO in the vicinity of existing GFPPs similar to that proposed.

11. Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are major  toxic pollutants from GFPPs.  Nitric oxide (NO) generated by GFPPs is rapidly converted to NO2 which affects the respiratory system and which with sunlight and volatile organic compounds (VOCs, from coal and oil burning pollution)  is involved in photochemical generation of ozone (O3) which is injurious to plant life as well as to human respiration. According to the WHO the safe limit of O3 is 100 µg/m 3 (8-hour mean) [7]  but, for example,  the Maximum One-Hour Mean Concentration of Ozone in Beijing is 2 times this level [11]. NO at very low levels acts as a signaling compound in animals and plants [10]. The Department of the Environment and Climate Change  in New South Wales has determined that “uncontrolled emissions from around 200 MW of [gas-fired] cogeneration would result in the health based nitrogen dioxide goal being exceeded across the [Sydney] CBD” [12, 13].

12. Particulate matter (PM) is generated by GFPPs and CFPPs but gas-fired power plants disproportionately  produce fine PM that is of particular concern because it can penetrate deep into the lungs. Thus according to the World Health Organization (WHO) “no threshold for PM has been identified below which no damage to health is observed.” [7].

13. Rural towns can be close to highways, gas pipelines, gas compressor stations, transmission lines,  and electric substations, infrastructure that can be  used to argue for the efficient co-location of  GFPPs. However the precautionary principle in relation to human health and the potential fire hazard of a GFPP (e.g. associated with forest fires or explosion) demands that GFPPs should be located well away from urban areas.

14. Placement of a huge 1,000 MW GFPP within the limits of a bucolic rural town effectively turns the town  into an industrial zone with the likelihood of further industrial  development and pollution detrimental to human health.    

(B). Detriment to human amenity. 1. A fundamental human amenity of living in a rural town is living close to nature away from the literal big smoke. Bringing a huge industrial polluter to the vicinity of a rural town helps demolish that amenity and further inevitable industrialization driven by cheaper power will further promote the transformation.

2. A wonderful amenity of rural living is that on a moonless night one can see frequent shooting stars and millions of stars in the sky whereas in similar conditions city folk can see only several dozen stars. Light pollution and other pollution from a huge GFPP would largely eliminate this wonderful and fundamental amenity.

3. While a huge GFPP can be camouflaged from speeding drivers by painting it appropriately, there will be an inevitable loss of visual amenity to people on the ground due to a huge industrial plant located in a rural and rural residential environment.

4. While proponents of a huge GFPP can argue for the local financial benefits of cheaper power and local employment in construction, plant operation, security and maintenance, these benefits would be outweighed by possible increases in morbidity (sickness) and avoidable mortality associated with possible toxic pollution from the plant.

5. Similarly, proponents of a huge GFPP will argue that it allows for beneficial increases in electricity to the community and the capacity of a GFPP for on-off function as a provider of peaking power to meet demand (e.g. the demand elicited by hot weather and increased use of air conditioners). However this “peak provider” argument is based on the incorrect premise that renewable energy (e.g. wind or solar) cannot provide 24/7 baseload power. Thus concentrated solar thermal power plants can store energy as heat using molten salts [14] and energy can be stored hydrologically by pumping water into elevated storages using solar or wind energy [15].  Indeed, noting that Australia currently has a 50,000 MW electricity capacity,   the Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) plan for 100% renewable stationary energy for Australia by 2020 (Zero Carbon Australia by 2020, ZCA 2020) involves 40% wind energy, 60% concentrated solar thermal (CST) with molten salts energy storage for 24/7 baseload power, biomass and hydroelectric backup (for days of no wind and low sunshine) and a HV DC and HV AC national power grid. The BZE scheme was costed at $370 billion over 10 years, with roughly half spent on CST, one quarter on wind and one quarter on the national electricity grid [14]. A related scheme for 100% renewable energy for Australia has been set out by top electrical engineer Professor Peter Seligman (a major player in development of the bionic ear). Professor Seligman's scheme involves wind, solar thermal, other energy sources, hydrological energy storage (in dams on the Nullabor Plain in Southern Australia), an HV AC and HV DC electricity transmission grid and a cost over 20 years of $253 billion [15]. Ignoring cost-increasing energy storage and transmission grid costs and cost-decreasing economies of scale for a 2- to10-fold size increase, here are 2 similar cost estimates for installation of wind power for 80% of Australia's projected 325,000 GWh of annual electrical energy by 2020: (1) 90,000 MW capacity, 260,000 GWh/year, $200 billion/10 years (10-fold scale-up from GL Garrad Hassan) and (2) 96,000 MW, 260,000 GWh/year, $144 billion (2-fold scale up from BZE ) [16].

6. Imposition of a huge GFPP on a rural community carries major financial implications for individuals  in relation to reduced property values, and obviation of long-term investment and retirement plans, these burdens violating the principle that new developments should not be at the expense of existing residents by retrospectively damaging their carefully-planned long-term financial positions.

7. Imposition of a huge GFPP on a rural community carries major financial implications for the community as a whole in relation to short- and long-term  town planning, and established zoning (e.g. for industry and for rural residential housing). Thus an attractive green, rural image of importance for future development is eliminated for starters.

8. The very process of community objection is expensive in terms of expert witness and legal representation costs. Thus top legal counsel in Australia could charge $10,000 per day and Expert Witnesses could charge $50,000 for their research, written reports and court testimony.

9. Hard to evaluate is the psychological impact on concerned residents of the imposition of a huge GFPP on their rural community.

10. Top climate scientists and biologists argue that we must urgently return the atmospheric CO2 from the current damaging and dangerous 400 ppm CO2 to the pre-Industrial Era (pre-Anthropocene) level of no more than 300 ppm CO2 for a safe planet for all peoples and all species [17], noting that the current species extinction rate is 100-1,000 greater than normal [18]. Sequestration of CO2 as cellulose (in wood) and thence conversion of cellulosic material to biochar (carbon, charcoal, C) through anaerobic pyrolysis at 400-700C is a major means of achieving this with the current achievable rate of  about 9 Gt biochar per year approximating the current industrial pollution rate [19].  Intergenerational equity is analysed below in relation to the enormous CO2 debt for coal burning (similar to that for gas burning) as expressed in the ultimate cost of  sequestering the generated CO2 as biochar.

(a). The current price of Australian thermal coal is about $90 per tonne or $90 per t C x (12t C/ 44 t CO2) = $24 per tonne of CO2 released on eventual combustion.

(b). However top climate scientists and biologists say that the atmospheric  CO2 concentration must be rapidly returned from the present circa 400 ppm CO2 to about 300 ppm CO2 for a safe planet for all peoples and all species [17].

(c). Currently, apart from re-afforestation a major way of returning atmospheric CO2 back to 300 ppm CO2 is through producing biochar (carbon, charcoal,  C) through anaerobic pyrolysis of cellulosic  biomass waste in renewable energy-driven microwave furnaces at 400-700C (with existing  agricultural  and forestry waste this could achieve about 9 Gt per year, roughly the same as the annual industrial output) [19].

(d). The cost of conversion of cellulosic waste to biochar in the US mid-West is about US$49-US$74 per tonne CO2 (US$210-US$303 per tonne CO2 in the UK ) [20].  

(e). Ergo, for every $1 received for coal by the coal industry our children, grandchildren and further generations will have to spend $2 to $3 at present prices converting the consequent CO2 back to biochar to save the Planet. One can accordingly similarly determine (for Australia) that the biochar production-related debt for future generations for every $1 received by the gas-based electricity industry will be about $0.6-$1.0 at present prices (these estimates must be multiplied by 4 for the cost of biochar production in the UK).

11. Leaving aside despoilation of the environment due to greenhouse gas pollution and resultant climate change impacting future generations, there are also other key intergenerational equity considerations. Thus eminent US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (former head, NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies and adjunct professor at 82-Nobel Laureate Columbia University) has commented (2009):  “Is it feasible to phase out coal and avoid use of unconventional fossil fuels? Yes, but only if governments face up to the truth: as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, their use will continue and even increase on a global basis. Fossil fuels are cheapest because they are not made to pay for their effects on human health, the environment and future climate… Are we going to stand up and give global politicians a hard slap in the face, to make them face the truth? It will take a lot of us – probably in the streets. Or are we going to let them continue to kid themselves and us and cheat our children and grandchildren? Intergenerational inequity is a moral issue. Just as when Abraham Lincoln faced slavery and when Winston Churchill faced Nazism, the time for compromises and half-measures is over. Can we find a leader who understands the core issue and will lead?” [21]. Children of a rural town subject to imposition of a huge GFPP will have to bear their share of the cost of remediation of pollution in which they had no part, an appalling example of retrospective moral and financial taxation.  

12. A fundamental human amenity is that of good self-regard but the imposition of a huge GFPP on a small rural community will make its inhabitants the very worst annual per capita greenhouse gas polluters in the world. Thus a 1000 MW GFPP operating at a theoretical 100% capacity factor would emit 4.16 Mt  CO2/year and for a town of  10,000 people the additional annual per capita GHG pollution would be 416 t CO2-e per person per year. Australia has an annual per capita GHG pollution of 25 t per person per year and accordingly the presence of a 1000 MW GFPP would increase  this to 25 + 416 = 441 t per person per year,  this being  about 17 times greater than the Australian average of 25,  62 times greater than the world average of 6.7, 4.4  times worse than that of the world ‘s worst GHG polluter Belize (93.9) and 7.6 times greater than that of Qatar (54.7), the world's second worst GHG polluter [22]. Thus against their fervently expressed will, the pro-environment people of this rural town will have by far the world's worst carbon footprint as measured by annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution in a world  facing a worsening climate crisis. School children in such a town would grow up knowing that their town is the worst greenhouse gas polluter of the world.

(C). Environmental impact.

1. A fatuous argument could be advanced that the proposed GFPP operating at 90% capacity factor  would emit only 3.7 Mt CO2 per year, this being 3.7 Mt x 100/63,803 Mt CO2-e = 0.006% of the world's annual GHG pollution. However if this defence were  successfully applied to all other specific, localized sources of GHG pollution there would be zero action world-wide on climate change.

2. A GFPP cannot be considered in isolation and must be considered in the context of the overall process from gas extraction to ultimate reversal of atmospheric CO2 pollution. Accordingly one must also consider the ultimate environmental impacts not just of global warming but also of gas extraction (either conventional or unconventional e.g. from coal seam gas or fracking) e.g. land salinization, landscape despoilation, aquifer depletion and pollution, and loss of forests and other ecosystems.

3. Through a cogent examination of livestock-related GHG pollution (in particular by assessing the GWP of methane on a 20 year time frame) World Bank experts have re-assessed  annual global GHG pollution as 63,803 Mt CO2-e, this being about 50% larger than prior estimate of 41,755 Mt CO2-e [23]. CO2 pollution is remorselessly increasing and recently reached 400 ppm at the US observatory on Mauna Loa [24]. The US Energy Information Administration predicts unabated global GHG pollution and indeed  the global GHG pollution is so high that with projected  increases the world will take only 5 years to exceed the terminal 2010-2050 GHG pollution budget of 600 billion t CO2 that must not be exceeded if the world is to have a 75% chance of avoiding a disastrous 2C temperature rise [25]. The world must be decreasing and not  increasing GHG pollution.

4. Climate change is already impacting ecosystems with many examples now of species moving polewards to lower average ambient temperatures.

5. NO2 generated by a GFPP will give rise to ozone (O3) which can cause leaf damage as well as respiratory irritation to fauna.

6. NO acts at very low concentrations as a signaling compound in both animal and plant systems [10], suggesting further biological consequences in the vicinity of GFPPs.

7. Additional noise, odour and the loss of being able to see stars due to GFPP light pollution may also negatively impact animal behaviour.


1.  The fundamental reason why gas-fired power plants (GFPPs) should not be built is that in view of the worsening climate crisis the world should be decreasing and not increasing fossil fuel burning and other greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. Building a GFPP with a lifetime of 40 years simply locks society into more fossil fuel burning and correspondingly blocks the uptake of renewable energy.

2.  A GFPP located near a rural town will impact (A) human health, (B) human amenity and (C) the environment in the many ways outlined  above for the benefit of environmental  activists, legal counsel and Expert Witnesses involved in GFPP-related legal proceedings.

3.  It must be appreciated that the political and legal debate about fossil fuel burning is conducted with a background of extraordinary, anti-science  media misinformation in the Western Murdochracies , Lobbyocracies and Corporatocracies.

4.  The bottom line of any analysis of public policy is avoidable death as described in detail in my book “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” that is now available for free perusal on the web [26]. It is estimated that already about 5 million people die annually worldwide from climate change (0.5 million) and from carbon burning pollutants (4.5 million) with this carnage set to total 100 million by 2030 in the absence of climate change action [27, 28] and that 10 billion people will perish this century if climate change is not addressed [22].  

5.  Ultimately for societal safety we must seriously consider the expert views of scientists.  Thus a 2010 Open Letter from 255 eminent scientists of the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences (including 11 Nobel Prize winners) concluded: “Delay is not an option” [27, 29] and the Synthesis Report of the 2,500-delegate 2009 scientific Copenhagen Climate Change Conference concluded: “Inaction is inexcusable” [27, 30]. Investing huge amounts of scarce resources into burning more fossil fuels like gas flies in the face of expert scientific evidence that we should be urgently engaged in cessation of fossil fuel burning in the interests of Humanity and the Biosphere. Professor David Shearman (emeritus professor of Medicine at the University of Adelaide , Adelaide , South Australia ) has succinctly  stated: “The International Energy Agency has expressed concern about gas replacing renewable energy sources. This would delay any chance of early curtailment of greenhouse emissions. Climate change is accepted as a huge threat to health world wide” [27, 31].


[1]. “Gas is dirty energy”: https://sites.google.com/site/gasisnotcleanenergy/gas-is-dirty-energy .

[2].  Natural gas.org, “Natural gas and the environment”: http://www.naturalgas.org/environment/naturalgas.asp .

[3].  Department of Environment and Resource Management, “Clean and healthy air for Gladstone ”, November 2011: http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/air/gladstone/pdf/chag-final-report-web.pdf

[4].  “Toxic oil syndrome”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxic_oil_syndrome .

[5].  Jeevan Vasagar, “”Schoolgirls rumble Ribena vitamin C claims”, The Guardian, 27 March 2007: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/27/schoolsworldwide.foodanddrink .

[6].  Dr Stephanie Shaw, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), “Air quality impacts from natural gas extraction and combustion”, Power, 13 March 2013: http://www.powermag.com/environmental/Air-Quality-Impacts-from-Natural-Gas-Extraction-and-Combustion_5417.html .

[7]  WHO, “Air quality and health”: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/ .

[8]. Greening Beijing: http://www.unep.org/sport_env/documents/beijingreport07/chapter5.pdf .

[9]. The Lung Association, “Pollution & air quality”: http://www.lung.ca/protect-protegez/pollution-pollution/outdoor-exterior/index_e.php .

[10]. Gideon Polya, “Biochemical Targets of Pant Bioactive Compounds. A pharmacological reference guide to sites of action and biological effects” ( Taylor & Francis, CRC Press, London & New York , 2003).

[11].  Xuxuan Xie, Shiqiu Zhang,  Jianhua Zhu, Dan Wu, Tong Zhue, ”Cost effective control of ground-level ozone pollution in and around Beijing  : http://www.cerdi.org/uploads/sfCmsContent/html/323/Xie.pdf .

[12]. New South Wales Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), “Interim DECC nitrogen oxide policy for cogeneration in Sydney and the Illawarra”: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/air/inp09124.pdf .

[13]. Drew Warne Smith, “Health fears over gas-fired generators”, The Australian, 12 November 2010: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/health-fears-over-gas-fired-generators/story-e6frg6nf-1225952326880 .

[14].  Beyond Zero Emissions Zero (BZE), Zero Carbon Australia by 2020 Report (BZE ZCA2020 Report), 2010: http://www.beyondzeroemissions.org/about/bze-brand .

[15].  Peter Seligman, “Australian sustainable energy – by the numbers”, Melbourne Energy Institute, University of Melbourne , 2010: http://energy.unimelb.edu.au/ozsebtn/ .

[16]. Gideon Polya, “2011 Climate Change Course”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course .

[17]. “300.org – return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm .

[18]. Phillip Levin, Donald Levin, “The real biodiversity crisis”, American Scientist, January-February 2002: http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/the-real-biodiversity-crisis .

[19].  Gideon Polya, “Forest biomass-derived Biochar can profitably reduce global warming and bushfire risk”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: http://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/forest-biomass-derived-biochar-can-profitably-reduce-global-warming-and-bushfire-risk .

[20].    Simon Shackley, Jim Hammond, John Gaunt and Rodrigo Ibarrollo, “The feasibility and costs of biochar deployment in the UK ”, Carbon Management, 2(3), 335-356 (2011):  http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/sshackle/CostsBiochar.pdf .

[21].  James Hansen, “ It's Possible To Avert The Climate Crisis ”, Countercurrents, 29 November 2009: http://www.countercurrents.org/hansen291109.htm .

[22]. Climate Genocide: https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/ .

[23].  Robert Goodland and Jeff Anfang. “Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are … cows, pigs and chickens?”, World Watch, November/December 2009: http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf .

[24].  NOAA, “ CO 2 at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory reaches new milestone: Tops 400 ppm”, 10 May 2103: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/news/7074.html .

[25]. Gideon Polya, “ Doha climate change inaction. 5 years left to act”, MWC News, 9 December 2012: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/23373-gideonpolya-climate-change.html .

[26]. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”  : http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/body-count-global-avoidable-mortality_05.html .

[27]. “Are we doomed?”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/are-we-doomed .

[28].  DARA, “Climate Vulnerability Monitor. A guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet”, 2012, Executive Summary pp2-3: http://daraint.org/climate-vulnerability-monitor/climate-vulnerability-monitor-2012/ .

[29].  2010 Open Letter by 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences, “Open Letter: climate change and the integrity of science”, Guardian, 6 May 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/06/climate-science-open-letter  .

[30].  Synthesis Report of the March 2009 Copenhagen Scientific Climate Change Conference: http://climatecongress.ku.dk/pdf/synthesisreport .

[31].  David Shearman, “Dealing with the health risks of unconventional gas”, The Conversation, 28 November 2012: http://theconversation.com/dealing-with-the-health-risks-of-unconventional-gas-10987 .

Dr Gideon Polya has been teaching science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .






Comments are moderated