MDN Weekly Update – May 29, 2011

poll resultsThank you to those who voted in last week’s online poll. Here are the results:

Should Marcellus Shale pipeline companies be granted public utility status (i.e. eminent domain)?

No (74%, 151 Votes)
Yes (23%, 47 Votes)
Not sure (3%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 204

This Week’s Poll

This week I wade into waters few dare to go: the global warming (or climate change or whatever you want to call it) debate. I do so because of the interest in the story I posted this past week about the Cornell study recently published by Profs. Howarth, Ingraffea and Santoro. That study says, among other things, that using shale gas—not only burning it, but also the process of drilling it and transporting it—is a bigger contributor to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than mining and burning coal. A writer on the Council on Foreign Relations website pointed out new findings from the Department of Energy that refutes the methodology and resulting conclusions from the Howarth study.

Many who oppose drilling for Marcellus Shale gas do so because of their philosophical viewpoint, a viewpoint that believes (oversimplification here) that burning fossil fuels are bad because they cause an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting in an increase in the average temperature on the earth with potentially catastrophic effects. That line of thinking or viewpoint is represented in the work by Howarth et al. Those who hold that viewpoint generally support alternative sources of energy like wind and solar and believe that humans should, more or less, be forced to change to those sources of energy.

There are others, MDN among them, who do not believe man is contributing in any meaningful way to an increase in global warming—at least not to the extent that it endangers anyone or anything on planet earth. Can and does air pollution exist? Of course. Do carbon-based fuels contribute to said pollution? Yes. But is mankind’s burning of carbon-based fossil fuels leading to doomsday for life on earth because of greenhouse gases? No. Not in my opinion. And not in the opinion of many scientists and experts.

Maybe you think man does contribute to the “problem” of global warming, but man’s contribution is not dangerous. Maybe you think all fossil fuel use should end asap. Maybe you think using natural gas, because of lower carbon emissions than oil and coal is the best solution for now, but not for the long-term. People come down on all sides of the debate. I’ve tried to word the poll this week to get at the root philosophy or belief that may or may not lead people to support or oppose drilling. It’s not a perfect question, but hopefully will do the trick.

Do you think burning fossil fuels like natural gas causes dangerously high levels of global warming?

If you believe there is a direct connection between burning fossil fuels and dangerously high global warming, my guess is that you oppose drilling for shale gas. You may have other reasons to oppose drilling (impact on water supplies, etc.). But fundamentally, if you believe the planet is endangered by carbon, my guess is you don’t want drilling. Am I right?

Go to any page on the website and click to vote on the right-hand side of the page in this week’s poll. I’ll report the results next week.

Below you’ll find the “top 5” lists and this week’s calendar listings.

Happy reading,
Jim Willis, Editor

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