Local Factories Combating Global Warming

Global warming is a recently acknowledged global problem that needs serious attention. Many people didn’t realize that the earth was being warmed, and in many cases, seemed to be in denial of this recent crisis. There are many problems associated with global warming including the melting of the polar ice caps and the destruction of the rain forest. There are many things that contribute to this crisis including carbon emissions from vehicles, gas escapes from landfills, and toxic output from factories. Scientists have uncovered the startling concept that a six degree increase in global temperature could spell disaster for human life on earth. In Mark Lynas’ book Six Degrees: our future on a hotter planet he writes, “A three degree rise in temperature will create deserts across South Africa and the United States, melt Greenland’s ice sheets, and destroy the rain forest.��? We are finally coming up with logical strategies to try to curb this scenario. There are a lot of people who are pointing the finger at factories for being a major contributor to this dilemma. From water treatment to oil refineries, the proper way to make a step in combating global warming is to put caps on their toxic emissions. Local factories here in Duluth, MN are experimenting with the use of networking synthesis, aqueous carbonation, and experimentation with algae.

There are many different ideas and perspectives about global warming that are going around. This area of the country has a relatively high amount of factories and plants. In the Duluth and Superior area, we all drive past and see these factories commonly. They are somewhat of a mainstay and naturally, we don’t think twice about them. These establishments include the General Mills factory in West Duluth, the waste water treatment facility in Superior, and the Enbridge Energy oil refinery in Grand Rapids. They are all excellent sources of jobs and they contribute to keep our port town populated. These factories are all involved in both the pollution of our world, and possible solutions to combat global warming activity. The factories that don’t try to change can be fined millions of dollars by the government. I happened to visit the Murphy Oil refinery located in Superior, Wisconsin to conduct an interview with Gary Anderson, who is the assistant operations manager for the factory. He started off by saying, “Well, we are an oil refinery which accepts and refines oil from the north.��? He mentioned that there are many Murphy Oil refineries located all over the country. Murphy Oil Corporation also operates all over the world including Malaysia and the United Kingdom and owns a number of gas stations under the name of Murphy USA. My goal of the interview was not just to learn about Murphy Oil, but to learn about what this factory is doing to clean up their act. In China, people are discovering the hard way, problems associated with factory emissions. Francis Bienecke visited China during their economic explosion and witnessed a country that had extremely dirty and polluted air. She then revisited the country recently, finding much improved air quality. She mentioned, “After revisiting the country that was once hard to breathe in, I could see a very visible change (Bienecke 1).��? The U.S. government has recently required all factories to compile data that reveals and measures how much carbon emissions they release and are responsible for. The American government has been known to enforce harsh and expensive penalties in the case of an environmental contamination.  Strangely enough, there are people arguing in favor of smog. They claim that it’s harder to breathe in, but they believe the benefits outweigh the risks, and actually help to keep the planet warmer. Jamie Reno argues that smog can help to cool the earth. She writes, “The sun cannot penetrate the fog, resulting in a lower temperature (Reno 8).��? I found this concept to be somewhat interesting; however, I couldn’t find any actual scientific data to back it.

One solution to combat global warming is through the use of networking synthesis, which is a way that factories, both local and international, can save energy and, in turn, make a dent on the amount of energy the world uses. The United States, along with the world, is wasting massive amounts of energy by not using water or electricity efficiently. This energy could be harnessed and reused and could help to lower carbon emissions in a variety of places. If American factories could harness the energy they are wasting, they could reduce carbon emissions by an estimated one-fifth (Margonelli 2). Networking synthesis would be a good place to start to help factories save energy. Basically, networking synthesis is a sharing of resources or energy between two production entities such as a factory or a refinery. Factories could potentially be sharing energy or water in an effort to optimize the resources. These plants could then maximize the potential of the energy and water and also, excrete less waste into the environment and atmosphere. Seong-Rin Limp writes, “This plan will share the water with another plant while maintaining feasibility and still making a profit.��? I asked Gary Anderson at Murphy Oil if he had heard of or is using this strategy. His response was, “Yes, I’ve heard about it, but realistically it isn’t going to work unless two plants from the same company used energy synthesis, and even then it might still not be cost effective and efficient.��? Although the concept of networking synthesis was one of the first ideas to combat global warming, it seems like it’s just not worth the time and energy. It is a very simple concept and if you think about it and weigh the options, it just might work or might not be worth doing at all.

Another solution that seems to be more effective is mineral sequestration of Carbon Dioxide through the use of aqueous carbonation, which is a newly discovered concept. Chemists have introduced a chemical reaction that can be used in many different ways, including inside of smokestacks, to reduce the harmful carbon dioxide emissions. What happens is that lime is introduced to the carbon dioxide. The second step is the spontaneous carbonation of calcium hydroxide suspension (Montes-Hernandez 1348). The two reactions have been reported to improve the efficiency and lowered output by an outstanding 82 percent. This procedure could be put to use in long term geological storage or in reactors and smoke or output stacks. I asked Gary from Murphy Oil what their plant was currently doing to curb global warming themselves. He said, “We are recording and managing a number of datas that will give us a solid number as to what we are contributing to air and water quality.��? He then went on to say, “We are trying to incorporate carbon sequestration as well as reducing flaring.��? I was surprised to learn that this oil refinery was operating a modern factory with, as far as I could see, minimal intentions of hurting the environment. This could be, of course, a good way of increasing or maintaining the stockholders of this corporation. I thought it was interesting that he mentioned reducing flaring. I asked Gary what exactly what that was and he said, “It’s simply lowering the amount of excess oil and waste oil that we burn from our exhaust and pressure piping systems.��? I was pretty impressed that Murphy Oil Corporation was involved in my previously researched aqueous carbonation concept.

Scientists have been trying many different solutions and strategies to improve the earth’s condition including ideas about cutting and lowering carbon emissions and discovering new types of fuel or oil, which could be a step in the right direction. There are many different things that have been thought up such as E85 ethanol, which is made from corn, and experimenting with hydrogen power and electricity. Algae is the newest discovery in the world of alternative fuels. Scientists, both professional and amateur, are involved in the experimentation with algae and its benefits (Rothstein). Algae can essentially be converted into oil, much like how corn is used to make E85 ethanol. It is also a readily available resource that can help to save both America and the rest of the world money. One of the most interesting things about this algae experimentation is the discovery that it can actually be grown off of carbon emissions themselves. It would be possible to reuse emissions from the plant to make more algae, which would be a very effective measure to potentially combat global warming. One of the things that Gary Anderson from Murphy Oil mentioned was algae. He said, “We are looking into the prospects of algae use and how it relates to our refinery. Students at UMD are currently experimenting with it to see if it goes anywhere.��? Through the reuse of toxic emissions, the world could see an improvement in air and water quality.

In my research on this topic I was intent on remaining neutral on these issues. It’s important to not be completely close-minded when trying to obtain accurate information. There are people out there that don’t necessarily “believe��? in global warming, or perhaps they aren’t very concerned with it. The American Thinker is a website organization that takes a realistic look into important issues in the United States. They claim that there are large group of wealthy Americans that are making their money from the global warming trend through the use of anti-global warming strategies and products. These groups and individuals are all involved in global warming propaganda (American Thinker). These people are actually adding to the whole global warming hype in an effort to make money. Kerry Dolan is a physics professor who teaches at the very liberal Berkeley University. He argues that hybrid cars and other efforts to combat global warming, like solar panels, are doing nothing to improve our standard of life. He writes, “Obtaining energy through the use of nuclear fission and coal burning is just fine and doesn’t pose any serious environmental risks (Dolan 1).��? There are others that share similar views with Kerry Dolan. Jamie Reno writes about how smog can actually contribute to global cooling rather than warming. Reno says, “Smog, like the famous Los Angeles smog can act like a protective layer from the sun, cooling the earth.��? This is a very strange and interesting irony, and while this view isn’t shared by many, it is another way of looking at the topic. When interviewing Gary Anderson from Murphy Oil, I noticed that he seemed very positive about the cleanliness of his refinery. He didn’t give away anything that would lead me to believe that the Murphy Oil plant was involved in the destruction of the environment. Either way, he would probably say the same positive things to not risk losing his job and to help keep stockholders happy and interested.

In the end, I learned the various ways that factories, both local and nationwide, are combating global warming. It seems that the factories and refineries in Duluth and Superior are doing what’s modernly possible to clean up their act. After reporting their emissions data to the government, the factories have no choice but to improve their efficiency of toxic emissions output for fear of hefty fines from the government. Although there weren’t currently very many ways of making huge improvements, it seems for now the basics, like reducing energy consumption are great ways of making a difference. There were three strategies that I mentioned and only two of them were actually proven to be successful. Aqueous carbonation is an excellent chemical reaction that factories can use to get rid of some toxic materials and deposits. Algae could potentially be a big step in the right direction with it’s’ life cycle characteristics. The strategy of networking synthesis, however, wasn’t majorly popular with Murphy Oil, and as my research has suggested, not very many other factories either. It seemed to be just unrealistic and unless there are multiple factories owned by the same company, it just isn’t a great idea. Factory and plant owners alike, are looking to the future, and waiting for scientists to find new breakthroughs that will improve the future of our planet.

Works Cited

Americanthinker.com. March 30, 2009. American Thinker. March 30, 2009 http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/08global-warming-propeganda-fact.html


Anderson, Gary. Personal Interview. 10 Apr. 2009.


Beinecke, Frances. “The China syndrome: a powerhouse economy is learning to lighten its carbon load. (View from NRDC).” OnEarth 29.2 (Summer 2007): 4(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. Lake Superior College Library. 27 Mar. 2009


“Chinese warming.(DATABANK: OECD in graphs’s)(global warming)(Brief article).” OECD Observer 258-259 (Dec 2006): 68(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. Lake Superior College Library. 30 Mar. 2009


Dolan, Kerry. “Warming to a Fight.��? Forbes Global 5.5 (2009): 1-3. Infotrac. Lake Superior College Library. 7 Apr. 2009


LIMP, SEONG-RIN; PARK, JONG MOON. Environmental Science & Technology, 8/15/2008, Vol. 42 Issue 16, p6230-6236. Infotrac. Lake Superior College Library. 8 Apr. 2009


Lynas, Mark. Six Degrees: our future on a hotter planet. Washington: National Geographic, 2008


Montes-Hernandez, G.; Pérez-López, R.; Renard, F.; Nieto, J.M.; Charlet, L.. Journal of Hazardous Materials, Jan2009, Vol. 161 Issue 2/3, p1347-1354, 8p; DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2008.04.104. Infotrac. Lake Superior College Library. Apr. 7 2009


Reno, Jamie. “Smog: the other view��? Newsweek (Atlantic Edition), 9/1/2008, Vol. 152 Issue 9, p8-8. Infotrac. Lake Superior College Library. Apr. 7 2009


Rothstein, Meryl. “How to fix the future: algae oil: it’s plentiful, it’s homegrown, and it could help clean up the environment while powering America–every light, car, plane, and factory in it.(Best and Brightest 2008: TECHNOLOGY).” Esquire 150.6 (Dec 2008): 178(2). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. Lake Superior College Library. 27 Mar. 2009


“The Illusion of Clean Coal; Climate Change.��? The Economist (US) 390.8621 (March 7, 2009): 18EU. Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. Lake Superior College Library. 27 March, 2009