Illustrating Pollution Articles with Water Vapor

I have written here before about how frequently steam plumes are used by the media to stand in as a proxy for pollution.  Here is another example, with extra points for artful photography and use of lighting conditions to make the white steam look dark and scary.


  1. Matthew Slyfield:

    As I & others pointed out on the WUWT thread, while WAPO certainly attached an unjustified scary caption to the photo, it is likely a stock photo and not a photo taken by a WAPO staff photographer for that specific story. I did a Google image search on it and got well over 100 hits, most older stories or reports not tied to WAPO.

  2. Matt:

    "There are two types of scrubbers used: wet and dry. Both use limestone,
    which reacts with sulfur to remove it from the air. In wet scrubbers,
    limestone powder is mixed with water and sprayed into the smokestack. As
    hot gasses from the coal plant blow through it, they come in contact
    with the water vapor. Dust clings to the water, and sulfur dioxide
    reacts with the limestone trapped in the vapor. The water vapor then
    precipitates out of the stack, where it can be filtered out, removing
    some of the worst pollutants. Some of the water vapor actually remains
    in the smokestack, which is why many stacks release white plumes. Those
    plumes are composed of steam and hot gasses."

    I know someone who works at a coal-fired power plant. There can often be 1000 gallons/minute of water vapor coming out the stack.

  3. Michael:


    water vapor is in fact a greenhouse gas, a better one than CO2

  4. Ted Rado:

    Gases leaving a coal fired power plant are essentially dry until they pass through a wet scrubber where they are saturated with water vapor. When this moist gas hits the cold air, the moisture condenses, producing a plume. It is astonishing how little science and technology the average person knows. In the case of the popular press, this knowledge level is zero!

  5. mesocyclone:

    Journalists don't usually know anything about science other than it is a place where experts tell you what to think. They probably think it really is pollution.