The case for coal

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First published in Letters by

COME ON, Christian Vassie (Letters, January 1) – let’s get real!

To the best of my knowledge, all coal mined on this earth contains the isotope carbon 14. To use your own favourite phrase, “by definition” according to carbon dating theory coal cannot be millions of years old because carbon 14 has a half life of 5,700 years.

When the coal measures were laid down, atmospheric CO2 was at least 30 times its current level. So to replenish the depleted forests we need to increase the levels of CO2, plus the fact that increased temperature and rainfall will also help to achieve this.

Ken Barnes, NorthView, Catterton, Tadcaster.

Comments (7)

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11:08am Fri 3 Jan 14

old_geezer says...

Am I failing to spot a spoof?

Coal, mainly laid down 300 million years ago or more, may contain trace C14 through contamination but the initial concentration (because of radioactive decay into N14) hyas long gone.

A Carboniferous-era world to replenish the coal stock would have no place for humanity (most of our major cities would be underwater), and the coal would take millions of years to form - homo sapiens has only been around for a geological eye-blink; maybe a successor rat or cockroach civilisation would benefit.
Am I failing to spot a spoof? Coal, mainly laid down 300 million years ago or more, may contain trace C14 through contamination but the initial concentration (because of radioactive decay into N14) hyas long gone. A Carboniferous-era world to replenish the coal stock would have no place for humanity (most of our major cities would be underwater), and the coal would take millions of years to form - homo sapiens has only been around for a geological eye-blink; maybe a successor rat or cockroach civilisation would benefit. old_geezer
  • Score: 12

1:41pm Fri 3 Jan 14

roclank2000 says...

Either thsi is an amusing spoof letter, or the writer is quite happy to appear totally foolish; at least he didn't claim that the Earth is 5700 years old...
Either thsi is an amusing spoof letter, or the writer is quite happy to appear totally foolish; at least he didn't claim that the Earth is 5700 years old... roclank2000
  • Score: 11

2:40pm Fri 3 Jan 14

ColdAsChristmas says...

Is this the new alarmist flat Earther or denier latest in saying that the Earth is around 6,000 years old? To that I'd say in the words of Professor David Bellamy...Poppycock!

Why not consider why CO2 levels have been much higher in the past and while at it, why is there more Antarctic ice today than there was 100 years ago. The Earth was much warmer during Roman and Medieval times. These are established facts, not a could, if or might, according to some biased computer model. About time you cooling deniers woke up!
Is this the new alarmist flat Earther or denier latest in saying that the Earth is around 6,000 years old? To that I'd say in the words of Professor David Bellamy...Poppycock! Why not consider why CO2 levels have been much higher in the past and while at it, why is there more Antarctic ice today than there was 100 years ago. The Earth was much warmer during Roman and Medieval times. These are established facts, not a could, if or might, according to some biased computer model. About time you cooling deniers woke up! ColdAsChristmas
  • Score: -13

6:21pm Fri 3 Jan 14

franshaw says...

the earth wasnt 'much warmer' during Roman and Medieval Times, according to this :

http://www.skeptical
science.com/medieval
-warm-period.htm

so far from ;'established facts' i suspect

and some hypotheses on increased antarctic sea ice extent:

http://theconversati
on.com/why-is-antarc
tic-sea-ice-growing-
19605
the earth wasnt 'much warmer' during Roman and Medieval Times, according to this [which looks pretty solid to my eyes]: http://www.skeptical science.com/medieval -warm-period.htm so far from ;'established facts' i suspect and some hypotheses on increased antarctic sea ice extent: http://theconversati on.com/why-is-antarc tic-sea-ice-growing- 19605 franshaw
  • Score: -6

4:02am Sat 4 Jan 14

Magicman! says...

^ - only 1 source there. For facts to be considered as actual facts, they need to have come from at least 2 different sources - ie two different scientists or more going through their own seperate methods and coming to the same conclusion.
^ - only 1 source there. For facts to be considered as actual facts, they need to have come from at least 2 different sources - ie two different scientists or more going through their own seperate methods and coming to the same conclusion. Magicman!
  • Score: -7

3:36pm Sat 4 Jan 14

franshaw says...

^ - well, the main source for the article is based on a paper with over 70 named contributors from over 60 separate institutions, and the article concludes with

"overall results are largely consistent with previous millennial temperature reconstructions like those by Mann et al. (2008), Ljungkvist (2010), Moberg et al. (2005), and Hegerl et al. (2006)."

so seems to pass your criteria to be considered as fact.
^ - well, the main source for the article is based on a paper with over 70 named contributors from over 60 separate institutions, and the article concludes with "overall results are largely consistent with previous millennial temperature reconstructions like those by Mann et al. (2008), Ljungkvist (2010), Moberg et al. (2005), and Hegerl et al. (2006)." so seems to pass your criteria to be considered as fact. franshaw
  • Score: -5

5:29pm Mon 6 Jan 14

York Fox says...

As O_G says, C14 exists in coal, oil, etc but not 'intrinsicly'. Possibly due to contamination, or radioactive de novo creation of C14. Either way C14 is not remotely reliable beyond 45,000 years, so even if it did report an age of 5600 years it could still have an age of infinity in reality!
As O_G says, C14 exists in coal, oil, etc but not 'intrinsicly'. Possibly due to contamination, or radioactive de novo creation of C14. Either way C14 is not remotely reliable beyond 45,000 years, so even if it did report an age of 5600 years it could still have an age of infinity in reality! York Fox
  • Score: 1

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