Letter to the Editor-Wednesday, October 9: Carbon dioxide OK

WE should minimise human pollution of land, atmosphere and oceans. But that has nothing to do with carbon dioxide from modern coal-burning power stations.   No rational person could define carbon dioxide as "pollution". It is a harmless, non-toxic, colourless natural gas that is the essential food for all plants which then produce food and oxygen for all animals.   Almost everything in coal was derived from plant material - burning it is no more dangerous than burning wood. Both will suffocate you in confined places, but when dispersed in the vast atmosphere their emissions are beneficial plant fertilisers.   Modern coal-fired power generators have extensive filtration equipment which ensures that the exhaust gases are harmless natural gases already present in the atmosphere - nitrogen, water vapour and carbon dioxide - all essential to sustaining life on Earth.   The smogs of Asia are not caused by burning washed coal in modern power stations. They are caused by burning everything else, usually in dirty open fires. They burn cow dung, wood, cardboard, plastic, paper, recycled oil, tyres, dirty coal, kerosene - anything available that will cook food, provide warmth/light or deter mosquitoes.   Forest fires in Indonesia, cremations in India and dust from the massive Gobi desert all add to Asian air pollution. As do old worn-out boilers, furnaces, engines and power stations which can spew unfiltered exhaust gases, ash, soot and unburnt fuel into the air.   These all add to air pollution - carbon dioxide does not.   Fifty years ago bans on open fires plus clean coal-fired electricity and piped coal gas solved the suffocating smogs of London and Pittsburgh. The same will work wonders on Asian smogs.   Viv Forbes, Rosewood, Qld


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