Increased production of synthetic fuels from coal, a major component of President Carter's energy program, will lead to a build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Harvard professors said yesterday.
Eric Chaisson, assistant professor of Astronomy, said yesterday the increased use of coal will enhance the "greenhouse effect," which describes the trapping of heat into the earth's atmosphere.
The release of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal would probably cause the temperature of the atmosphere to rise, he said. However, he added that, "There are so many factors involved and no one knows how the long range cycle of warming and cooling will work."
The effects of a higher carbon dioxide level will not be known for ten to 20 years, Heinrich Holland, professor of Geology, said yesterday.
But Holland added that he does not foresee any serious effects in the future. "We've already probably increased the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere by 15 to 20 per cent since 1850 and there's been no immediate effect on the earth's climate," he said.
Michael B. McElroy, Rotch Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, said yesterday, "Climates can change considerably so adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere may or may not be bad."
He added that the problem with carbon dioxide "is that we are not knowledgable enough to predict exactly what the effects on the atmosphere will be."
However, commenting on a report recently released by the Council on Environmental Quality, the scientists differed on the effects of the additional carbon dioxide.