Switching from burning coal to natural gas won't have an appreciable effect on global warming, at least not in the next few decades, a study suggests.
In fact, cutting worldwide coal burning by half and using natural gas instead would increase global temperatures over the next four decades by about one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, according to Tom Wigley, a senior research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
Strictly speaking, coal produces more global-warming gas per unit of energy than natural gas. But the tradeoff is complicated by the types of greenhouse gases and other pollutants associated with each of these carbon-based fossil fuels.
"From the CO2 perspective, gas is cleaner, but from the climate perspective, it gets complicated," said Wigley.
Coal burning is notoriously dirty, producing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, soot and ash, as well as other pollutants. None are too good for ...