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July 07, 2008

Global Warming Caused by Cement, Too

Yup. All we need to do is stop cutting down trees (also known as "carbon sinks"), stop making cement, and stop burning anything and we can keep our planet pristine.

And also, dead, because the population will quickly reduce itself to almost nothing, the same as it was during the Stone Age. Which I suspect is the ultimate goal.

Cement is crucial to [California's] economy, literally paving the way for the growth that creates and preserves jobs. It is in our roads by the ton. It is underneath and, increasingly, within our houses. It is part of the backbones of our factories, stores and office buildings.

Californians will use more than 12 million metric tons of cement this year nearly one-third of a ton for every man, woman and child in the state.

But there is a problem. The production of cement creates a lot of carbon dioxide, the gas scientists believe is causing the temperature of Earth's atmosphere to rise. The 11 cement plants in California produce about the same amount of CO2 every year as 2 million passenger cars driven on the state's roads.

Cement comes from limestone, which is mined, crushed and then heated in kilns at temperatures above 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. As the temperature rises, calcium carbonate is transformed into calcium oxide, or lime, which is the key ingredient in cement. In chemical terms, CaC03 becomes CaO + CO2. The difference between limestone and lime, then, is the freeing and release of carbon dioxide.

For every ton of lime produced for cement, nearly a ton of carbon dioxide is produced as a waste product. You cannot have one without the other.


The Air Resources Board, which is leading the state's attempt to reduce the spread of greenhouse gases, has the cement industry in its sights. The board listed cement among the potential "early actions" that could be taken to reduce carbon dioxide production, and again fingered the product in its recent outline of the approach the board intends to take in the months ahead. But so far the regulators have not said exactly what they plan to do.

One reason might be that there are no easy answers.


The only sure way to significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that comes from the use of cement, then, is for Californians to use less cement. That means using less concrete, which consists mostly of cement, sand, gravel and water. But the state is expected to use more, not less concrete in the years ahead, as the population grows and as the government rebuilds roads, highways and levees as part of a huge drive to repair and expand California's infrastructure.

Okay then. Agent Smith was right: Humanity is a virus.

California is also planning to label all cars with a global warming score. Which is as silly as it is ineffectual.

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posted by Ace at 10:04 PM

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