There are no solutions, only trade offs

Today\’s interesting little example:

Perhaps the most surprising tip about growing quality grass in 2011 is that fields may need the added nutrient of sulphur, since winter fallout from the burning of sulphurous coal is no longer available.

It\’s perhaps not a very important trade off, or we could regard it as one that we\’re entirely happy to make.

That the skies are not clouded over with coal dust (both from the urban banning of the use of low grade coal and the installation of electrostatic precipitators at power stations) is good, that the farmers now might have to spread sulphur on the fields is bad.

As I say, it\’s a trade off we\’re entirely happy to make, but it is a trade off all the same.

6 comments on “There are no solutions, only trade offs

  1. Can’t the power stations bag up the stuff they’ve filtered out and sell it to the farmers?

    Tim adds: It’s possible, yes. But extracting the sulphur from all the other crud that’s there isn’t cost effective. Cheaper to go dig up some new stuff. Well, not quite. Sulphur is a contaminant in natural gas and oil, which we remove before we use it, so there’s great piles of it from that industry.

  2. Actually the sulphur is not removed using electrostatic precipitators, that’s just for particulates. Flue Gas Desulphurisation units, now mandatory do that job.

    On the oil & gas side, not so long ago, diesel had 2000 ppm of sulphur, equivalent to 2 kg per ton. Now it has 10 ppm, or 10 grams per ton. The difference is available to farmers to spread directly on their fields, as refineries do extract it.

    A trade off, but in this case, in my humble opinion a good one.

  3. The Sulpur Dioxide (SO2) would hit the ground in rain as dilute sopplhuric acid (H2So4) aka acid rain.

    Despite all the eco scare stories we used to hear about acid rain the fact is that it was beneficial http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/1403483/British-acid-rain-helps-our-trees-says-Norway.html

    Of course the papers/BBC who told us the scare story mostly kept silent when the truth came out. The just moved on to the next false eco-fascist scare story.

  4. I remember a friend telling me about the terrible acid rain which had completely destroyed the Black Forest. I asked him how he knew and apparently he had seen the trees denuded of all foliage from the window of his plane flying out of Stuttgart or wherever. I had to gently explain that in the middle of January many German forests are pretty bare and this process dates back a long time.

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