Deforestation rivals fossil fossil fuels for greenhouse gas emissions (up to 30% of anthropic emissions) yet it rarely gets talked about. Could it be because there is no money to be made in halting deforestation?
On the fossil fuel side what we need is a large scale industrial use of CO2 that is not hopelessly energy inefficient. If such a breakthrough happens we could build gas turbine farms at gas fields and pipe the CO2 to industrial centers. Modern gas turbines are the most efficient form of electricity generation. The emissions consist almost entirely of H2O and CO2, some collateral NO2, and trace amounts of other stuff from combusted impurities.
All forests today contain ~200 gigatons of carbon. Humans release ~25 gigatons of carbon per year. So DOUBLING the size of forests on Earth would just absorb 8 years of greenhouse gas emissions.
This made no intuitive sense to me until I began to think of the fossil fuels we’ve got underground as representing millions of years of forests “compressed” into oil / gas.
- We should do "X"
- But doing "X" won't solve "Y"
- But "X" will help
- But "X" won't solve
- But "X" is necessary
- But "X" isn't sufficient
And I think the unstated conclusions are whether we should actually do "X" or not. I think the answer is usually Yes, we should do X (in this case, plant as many damn trees as we can), but I also think that's me arguing from an individual perspective and not a group psychology perspective.
Like, when people argue "but focusing on trees could distract us from addressing the entire problem", I used to just be dismissive of that, but I'm starting to feel like those objections should be taken more seriously - particularly having gone through this COVID debate where people focused so much on "flattening the curve" - which was necessary, not sufficient - that too many people signed on to gradual reopening just as the (high-amplitude) curve started flattening. If we had socialized a different benchmark, maybe it would have been more effective in the long run.
(But still, even if only in parentheses, plant trees.)
But when you have to attach a price to something, you have to essentially put up or shut up. Either your project is as efficient as you claim or you lose money. And if your project suffers from economies or dis-economies of scale? Prices can incorporate this information too. Prices keep us honest.
That's why a cap-and-trade system is the best approach for limiting and reducing carbon in the atmosphere. Put a price on the externality and the market will find a way to drive it down as far as it'll go.
What's proven is that seaweeds and kelps can sequester more carbon per square meter per year than the tropical rainforest. The idea is put submerged, autonomous satellite-assisted kelp platforms in the open ocean at scale, to farm for food/feed/fertilizer/fish or just sink
the kelp into the depths to sequester the carbon for hundreds of years. (per UN research)
There is now a kelp coin, which might someday play a role in emerging carbon sequestration markets. At the moment, it is a fundraiser, crowd- funding style to help raise capital to get these to hectare scale.
https://www.climatefoundation.org/kelp-coin.html This kelp coin is new, just a couple of weeks out.
It might take a decade or more to get to a gigaton of carbon sequestration. But it is also about food security and ecosystem regeneration. If you like short videos for information, try https://www.climatefoundation.org/2040-make-a-change.html
This is a complex problem. Almost all solutions are worth trying. Most of them are going to be required. There does not need to be a winnowing of solutions. We just need to fucking start rolling them out.
I'm so over the argument that something won't be good enough.
No fucking shit.
Nothing is going to be good enough, nothing is going to be potent enough to solve how monumentally we screwed the environment up.
It is not a complex problem, this is the root cause.
AFAIK neither the Paris accords or any climate management proposals entertain the idea of stopping climate change.
Edit: positive feedback loops are things like the melting ice caps. Less sunlight is reflected back to space by the white ice which means more is absorbed by the dark sea. This causes the earth to warm and more of the ice caps to melt....
In climate science there is something called the tipping point. This is when mechanisms like positive feedback will make drastic climate change inevitable (with current technology).
When the tipping point will happen is up for debate. IMO the idea that we have already passed the tipping point is also up for debate.
How about estimate the future cost of climate change and the cost of various measures to prevent/reduce it. Do they result in a net gain or loss? There's no point doing something will help less than it hurts.
It's hard to predict future costs but we should at least try instead of (incorrectly) pretending it's the end of the world and no expense is too great to stop it. People probably have a sense that some measures (like reforestation) might not be worth the cost but others consider any cost is worth paying if it does anything.
Second, there's the behavior of the thing you're trying to fix. If you're accelerating towards a wall, you don't analyze the cost of switching to your current velocity. You're still going to get smashed apart by the wall. With Covid, people wondered if a lockdown is worth the economic cost compared to not locking down, without stopping to consider if no-lockdown's economic cost exceeds the cost of the lockdown, which is the bleedingly obvious reality. Comparing the cost of mitigating climate change over not mitigating climate change sometimes ignores we aren't in a static reality - the status quo is that we are accelerating in a direction that leads to higher and higher costs.
Finally, the return on an investment can change over time. For many people, planting one tree is obviously worth the cost of planting one tree. I've got space in my backyard, and I have seeds. It's a few square feet and it sequesters about a ton of CO2 over 40 years. I mean, that's a hell of a return on an investment, compared to not planting the tree. Now, that return will go down over time, as it becomes harder and more expensive for society to plant trees, several billion trees from now. But right now it's easy money. A US Citizen can currently offset their own carbon footprint by paying tree-planting services somewhere between $120 and $200 per year. That's cheap. It'll get more expensive over time until the point it's not "worth it" by some argument, and that can also mean that "the effort of offsetting the worlds carbon footprint through world reforestation isn't worth it", but that doesn't mean it's not worth it at first.
I recently drove through a road after a couple of years. On one side is Safeway and other shops - standard California shopping area - bigger than a strip mall smaller than a mall - not sure what to call it, and housing on the other side of the road.
Maybe it is bad memory but maybe it is real since I sort of exclaimed when passing through the area. The area used to be a concrete jungle but now they added so many trees that if you were not looking you may not realize you are passing a shopping area (of course I exaggerate but just a little). Not sure if they added 10 trees, 100 or maybe 200-300 (smallish ones not full size ones). I wonder if those things help and to what extent?
Tldr: do what you can based on where you are at your life and hope improves in the right direction, this applies to all things.
We should be making larger forests, fill them with birds and animals (this is actually a difficult part if you look at huge man made forests like the one in China). But we should also use man made sequestration. We should also redevelop coral reefs around the world. Etc. A lot of people seem to be forgetting the heart of the problem. There is too much greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It doesn't matter how we remove them, just that we do (assuming the removal process doesn't do more harm, of course). Doesn't matter if it is natural (i.e. forests & reefs) or artificial (CCS), it needs to be removed from the atmosphere (and ocean). There's no "one size fits all" solution.
Basically whale oil and trees were replaced by coal mining - which saved whales and trees! And if I recall the coal mining saved 5x the landmass area in trees cut down (not that that helped the british isles). And then oil saved lots of coal mine deaths and strip mining.
We just gotta keep going forward. I think it's unfortunate that modern safe nuclear hasn't gotten a place. I like that solar is getting a chance at development (helped via greedy power companies.. PG&E@48c/kwh).
and yes, plant trees.
Humans haven't been able to even slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, and now with the melting glaciers, thawing permafrost and warming oceans, which are all locked into positive feedback loops, it won't be long until the earth it's self will sustain the global warming pattern with no help from humans.
Between the oceans, the glaciers and the permafrost they sequester almost 2.5 times the CO2 that is currently in the atmosphere.
All we need is a technology that will capture and sequester greenhouse gases on a global scale to the tune of about 60 gigatons per year, this way we'll capture all the human released greenhouse gases, plus the emissions from the melting glaciers, thawing permafrost and warming oceans, and capture enough more so that we can eventually reverse the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations back to the early 1700's. Oh, one last thing we need to invent this technology in about the next 10 years.
~30% of which is from ongoing deforestation, unless the quoted ~25 gigatons is from fossil fuels only?
It's instead like a slow by-product of it; as if we had "fossil forests" underneath live ones, which several gigatons of additional sequestered carbon.
Doubling the size of forests on Earth would provide benefits that go beyond the simple, one-time CO2 capture you refer to.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that calculating how much carbon a forest can store, should take the throughput into account, not just the current total capacity.
Not only reforestation helps with cleaning the air, but it tries to rolls back a (irreparable) damage we made to the environment during the last centuries.
Unfortunately this is somewhere between hopelessly improbable and impossible, for two reasons:
First, our CO2 storage needs are in the tens of gigatonnes per year. At the highest practical storage density of pure CO2, one gigatonne is about 10^9 cubic meters - 400 times the volume of the Hoover Dam. There are simply no existing human product streams that are within even a couple orders of magnitude of being able to absorb that.
Second, CO2 is a waste product. Turning it into any other useful product will demand not just the energy gained from burning the fuel, but quite a bit more due to thermodynamic inefficiency.
There absolutely ain't no free lunch with regards to CO2 capture. It's perfectly doable but it's a pure cost that should just be government regulated everywhere ASAP.
If we could turn it to become a resource, perhaps it will be consumed out, just like the rest of resources we humans discover.
One possibility maybe applying photosynthesis, if we knew how to do it in a practical manner. We know that plants can do it, we know generally how they do it, but still can't replicate it.
With photosynthesis, the CO2 ends up in some form of sugar among other things. Where the hydrogen comes from water, and we want that hydrogen for energy.
Of course, as with anything done by humans, there's a danger of abuse. In such case, we could 'overharvest' the CO2 such that it could starve the plants, leading to oxygen shortage... And that's another doomsday scenario.
All in all, the problems point at the humans, so far Earth tolerates us.
Carbon fixation is endothermic. It requires a lot of energy, and very specific conditions. Organic carbon fixers (plants & algae) are by far the most efficient way to turn CO2 into something useful, but they require sunlight, and there's only so much of that to go around.
That's a semantics game... First thing that comes to mind is manure, turned from literally waste into fertilizser. It may not be a high demand resource, but with a utility nevertheless.
The reaction of CO2 with silicates (to make silica and carbonates) is exothermic. This is why Earth is not Venus, with all the CO2 in the atmosphere.
And photosynthesis, as well as any other capture process from air, has negative feedback. If CO2 content (technically, CO2 partial pressure) goes down, the efficiency of the capture process goes down faster.
Sure photosythesis needs external energy to work, no one is suggesting a perpetuum mobile. The question is what valuable (to humans) product could be at the end of the processing chain, and how would this balance with the costs? The next question is how to make the process more efficient to drive the costs down?
If plants' process is the most efficient, perhaps it should be delegated to plants, then the humans need to find ways to supply the supporting elements, like soil, light, water.
No it isn't. Reforestation might be the most aesthetically and ideologically pleasing option, but it's not the most physically effective one. Trees get you $25-$50/ton-CO2 removal costs; accelerated weathering gets you around $8/ton-CO2 . Iron enrichment of the ocean can get you down to around $1/ton-CO2 removed.
Focusing on pretty solutions in harmony with nature will lead us down the wrong path. Every great thing mankind has done has been the result of science, technology, and industry. We don't fly around the world by stupidly copying birds, and we won't get control of the climate by sowing plants.
That 5k year old tree wants us to get out of the way and let the adults clean up the mess before everything dies.
It doesn’t help telling poor people to stop deforestation, because they have no choice. The way to get there is by having the rich consume less.
Maybe resources should be heavily transferred from the rich to the poor, removing the ability of the rich to overconsume, and enabling the former poor to stop deforesting while living as efficiently as possible (although their carbon output would probably net go up.)
Maybe our economies could focus on delivering the most comfort and security at the highest energy efficiency, rather than on tricking the wealthy into throwing things away as quickly as possible after purchase and on maximizing the burning of gasoline and jet fuel.
Regardless, the time scale for growing and decomposing a forest is enormous and would buy a lot of flexibility in solving the problem more permanently if additional research shows them to not be efficient sinks long-term.
"Ward and Kirschvink say that 90 percent—yup, 90 percent!—of the coal we burn today (and the coal dust we see flying about Beijing and New Delhi) comes from that single geological period, the Carboniferous period."
Here's some hypothetical numbers. Correct me, if they are way off.
1 tree = 0.5 m³ of wood = 250 kg of CO₂.
1 ha = 10 000 m² = 500 trees = 125000 kg of CO₂.
Humanity CO₂ emissions at 2018 year are 33 100 000 000 000 kg. So you would need 264.8 millions of hectares (2.6 millions of km²) of forests to compensate for those emissions.
There are 38 millions of km² of forests on Earth right now. So even if we would double our forests (and that would be a truly tremendous task), that would buy us 14 more years of emissions (and that would not get back all the produced CO₂, by far).
It's not even clear if we would be able to keep CO₂ emissions not increasing in the future.
And there are only so much of land to plant forests.
I have more trust in some kind of phytoplankton. Oceans are vast. Those organisms can capture CO₂. Some of them will be eaten and some of them will die and submerge to depths where they'll keep that carbon forever. If they won't work well enough, future bio-engineering might fix that.
1. Reduced Food Waste Food, Agriculture, and Land Use / Land Sinks 87.45 94.56
2. Health and Education Health and Education 85.42 85.42
3. Plant-Rich Diets Food, Agriculture, and Land Use / Land Sinks 65.01 91.72
4. Refrigerant Management Industry / Buildings 57.75 57.75
5. Tropical Forest Restoration Land Sinks 54.45 85.14
The book / website consistently points out that the best reduction / capture mechanisms are related to food and industry first. Though being top 5 is no joke.
What does this mean? Seems like it is a cost from some perspectives and a positive from other perspectives.
From the perspective of green businesses, likely a positive. From the perspective of society, removing the negative externality is likely a positive.
The only cost it imposes is on those who were previously externalizing their costs on to society.
Planet Money did a great episode on this idea over 7 years ago: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2013/07/12/201502003/epis...
They did a followup 5 years later: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/07/18/630267782/epis...
It seems like there are too many entrenched players to make this a reality unfortunately.
I'm not sure it's possible to reach the goal of staying below 2°C warming anymore, but the degree to which we incur change and damage the existing ecosystems can still be limited. Seeing how little we've managed to reduce carbon emissions by, and given that there will always be some emissions, we indeed need capture methods; heck, even if it's just trees, we need something. We need some way to recapture the remaining emissions, whatever reduced amount we'll be left with in the end.
If you want to fund that sort of work today, Climeworks has a product where you can choose how many kg of CO2 you want to capture per year and pay for it. They have machines that indeed remove that actual amount for you, turning it into stone rather than something re-consumable. What they don't say is how much CO2e the building and operating of those machines emits and whether that'll be offset with said machines, but I'm happy to fund their technology either way. (I'm not affiliated with them in any way except having the subscription for about 1.5 years.)
Other than tree planting organisations (which never seem to be able to convincingly promise that the trees won't be uprooted or burned for farmland before they captured the promised amount, especially given that the offerings are usually dirt cheap), I'm not aware of any other organisation offering products for consumers, so that's also why I'm arguing for people to give Climeworks money: if there's money to be made with it, more companies will start capturing carbon.
Ben Davidson is not a pseudo scientist and has plenty of training in the scientific method.
I'll start listening to you if can predict earthquakes as good as the community developed by Ben over at quakeqatch.net
Should be quakewatch.net
NOTE: I am not affiliated in any way, shape, form or fashion with that website and have no idea what they are peddling. I simply tried to visit the site and found the error in the URL.
I am a geophysicist though who watches the USGS mapview of recent quakes every day.
Going in now...
If I'm not back in a couple of days tell my family they're some of my favorite people.
My initial impression is that this proves the old adage that even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while.
Their maps with the color-coded target areas are spread around the known regions of the globe where one would reasonably expect to be able to keep updating a prediction and eventually have it come true. (Stock market newsletter predictions are probably as accurate.)
I didn't watch videos yet nor did I read any of the papers that might have been linked since it was not obvious how to access any of that. The whole site is geared for believers in that you have to make an account as a predictor to be able to see any of the predictions that have been made and thus it is impossible for an outsider to gauge the accuracy of any of their claims.
If this is not true please correct me.
I'll dive into some of this as time permits but for now I did watch a video from 2016 that outlined the data they are using and potential links they have found and papers published as a result.
I'll suit up, grab some coffee and dive into that later. Looks interesting so maybe not fair to compare it to stock market shysters at this point though the blind squirrel analogy will always be valid.
What if rainbow-horned unicorns become the new automobiles?
What if my wife finally succeeds in inventing dehydrated water?
What if zero point energy becomes the new electricity?
What if ... meh.
Someone once pointed out that if you wait six months to read it, the Economist magazine reads like pure comedy.
But this ... this is just Kubler-Ross denial. Very sad.
One way or another you're spending a lot of energy doing it. Using fossil fuel would not make sense as it would add to the problem you're trying to solve. Considering there's not enough renewable energy for all our current uses, wouldn't it be simpler to just reduce, and convert more things to renewable as they come available, which we'll need to do anyway?
Once we have a big surplus of renewable in the future we could look at this again.
It sounds to me like a pipe dream, a promise of a 'quick fix' for a problem that has no quick fixes.
And to be honest in order to actually reverse global warming and prevent some of the future effects we're already locked in to, we'll have to extract so much carbon that I don't see this happening in the next hundreds of years.
1) I don't think all carbon capture necessarily requires a lot of energy input. Planting trees is a more obvious example of this - of course, the trees rely on the sun's energy so it's not "low energy" in that sense, but we weren't going to harvest that energy any other way anyways. It's possible there are other solutions that are like that.
2) If we have an abundance of zero or low-carbon energy in the future that doesn't exist now, it might not matter that taking carbon out of the atmosphere uses more energy than the energy we got from putting carbon into the atmosphere to begin with.
To be clear, I really wish we'd just spend the money and take the sacrifice to use a lot less carbon right now. It certainly seems like a much easier problem to solve than trying to suck it back out later, and relying on it to work seems like a dumb risk. Even if we're confident that we'll inevitably need some amount of carbon capture and that the R&D will happen to develop it at scale, there's a good chance that it'd be easier and cheaper to put less carbon in the air now than to do more capture later.
The trick is that most energy inefficient buildings and appliances are used by poor people who can't afford to upgrade or maintain to the latest and greatest standards, and massive funding for poor people is a giant lightning rod at least in the US. I know that in a previous house my utility was literally paying me to replace my fridge and air conditioner to reduce peak power demand, but I have no idea how widespread such programs are.
Put simply: INDUCED DEMAND
Just like roads or computer hardware (every improvement in hardware can get eaten up by people no longer caring about optimizing software efficiency or modest file sizes: nobody needs their cute family videos to be 4k HD etc)… we can easily use up ALL the gains if we are let to just do that.
We use more efficient building technology to support homes being larger and more luxurious than we need. Defeats the whole purpose.
We need to internalize the costs. Heavy taxes on the source of pollution rather than subsidizing the clean-up or the use.
If energy gets MUCH MUCH more expensive, people WILL upgrade to efficient tech and keep minimizing their use of it.
But I agree with your comment. Preventing is better at this point, especially while we're still emitting (and will be for a long time). I view Carbon Capture at this stage basically as a decoy from big oil to keep doing what they're doing.
Having a more connected electrical grid so that you don't end up in this situation would probably be ideal, like what you're suggesting with using green energy to replace carbon sources.
So we're going to need a lot of surplus energy to do it, and it will take a long time. Which means that we need to start the R&D now, scale it up when we have surplus sustainable energy, and plan for the time it will take to execute.
Concurrently, we need to push through the sustainable energy transition as fast as possible, and probably also figure out how to reduce solar heating of Earth while we do carbon removal over the next century or so.
Welcome to the Anthropocene :)
Going back at that point will basically mean another climate change. One that will be mainly for the better but will again have impact on nature that will have adjusted in the mean time. It won't be a 100% positive. I wonder if that is really worthwhile. And if things will really get back to what they were; For one the arctic ice, would that build up again in the exact same places? They have a large effect on jetstreams so I'm not sure if things would really go back to the same way things were in pre-industrial times.
Also, in pre-industrial (and early industrial) times winters were really harsh sometimes. It wasn't all rosy either. I think around the 70s/80s the climate was the mildest though I didn't study it.
Oxydes are really, really stable, and CO2 is one. Destroying an oxyde will cost at least as much energy as creating one, but in reality it's about 3 time the expense for C02.
The chemical/mechanical solution i've seen on HN with olivine and tidal energy is quite interesting (that how ocean keep themselves from turning too acidic with CO2 capture), but while i'm pretty sure the chemestry bit is true, their paper is not peer-reviewed and i'm a bit skeptic about how fast the carbon will be absorbed.
It feel like it's nearly as much a silver bullet as fusion and ambiant temperature supra-conductor. So not big oil.
"Energy use" is the wrong way to look at it, because energy costs vary massively. A lot of renewable energy effectively goes to waste because there is no economical way to capture and store it.
Don't forget the weight of the oxygen that goes into the reaction.
edit: I just don't see the logic in shitting around and then paying somebody to clean up the shit. It's much easier to just stop shitting.
If it reduces emissions by reducing fossil demand, that's fine too.
If someone asked me if I wanted to contribute to a new freeway in my city that I'm not going to use directly, no I don't, the marginal benefit to me is too slight. But I appreciate having sophisticated infrastructure, and when I see infrastructure spending on the budget, I'm more or less content with it.
By the same token I don't for example pay for trees to be planted for every ton of CO2 I generate, but I'm happy for my taxes to go towards addressing the issue. If someone asked me if I'd like a tax break on the condition that it came out of that line-item, I wouldn't.
I found out about him and his uplifting work through an appearance on the podcast Manifold . But you can also learn about his research directly through ASU [2, 3].
Personally, it made me feel like the problem was far more tractable than I previously intuited.
I don’t want gas; I want some means to propel my car from A to B. I’ll choose the most economically practical option, gas being the currently most available one. I live in Florida, so the “underwater in 50 years” meme hits very close to my home: about 3km away, to be precise. Lots of people will see the incentive to use less gas, or to pay for carbon sequestration in the absence of a non-gas option.
No. I meant fossil fuels in this case (specifically natural gas).
>Also can't the rest of those things just use an alternate fuel.
We currently have no alternative to fossil fuels for cargo ships and airplanes.
Nobody _wants_ to pay for trash removal or a sewage system either, because they don't get anything back immediately—maybe a slightly less smelly neighbourhood in a few weeks. The only difference with CO₂ is scale.
Sunk is more accurate than free, though.
The average of (4, 5, 5, 6) is 5. The average of (1, 2, 9, 9) is 5.25.
Laws and treaties ended leaded gas, atmospheric nuclear testing, and markets for several industrial chemicals with global impacts. Future archeologists will be able to date these legal constructs by the concentration of these chemicals, or radioisotopes, and their effects, in layers of rock and soil.
Depends on whether you assume the background property arrangements are valid. We call them a thief because we call this gasoline owned by this group of people we call a company.
Some other group of people might call everyone who buys gasoline thieves since they profit off of the negative externality they leverage on the rest of society.
It's all a matter of what you view as neutral and objective and what you view as a violation of others rights.
I think carbon emitters should be the ones paying. Otherwise you privatize the profits and socialize the cleanup expenses.
Isn't that exactly what the parent comment proposed?
>Is it a bad thing to force people who use a commodity to pay for its cleanup?
My impression is an economist would tell you that it theoretically doesn't matter that much if you tax the consumer or the producer. It's like US payroll taxes - does it make a difference how the tax is split between employer and employee? The real question is who is forced to absorb the cost, and theoretically that isn't determined by who pays from an accounting perspective - it's a red herring.
Often people insist without evidence that someone who will pay a tax can or cannot pass it through, whichever is convenient to argue against it, when the real answer is probably "it's complicated" and the entity taxed is not in control.
I think this is the Wikipedia page describing the phenomenon I'm fumbling at:
"The theory of tax incidence has a number of practical results. For example, United States Social Security payroll taxes are paid half by the employee and half by the employer. However, some economists think that the worker bears almost the entire burden of the tax because the employer passes the tax on in the form of lower wages. The tax incidence is thus said to fall on the employee. However, it could equally well be argued that in some cases the incidence of the tax falls on the employer. This is because both the price elasticity of demand and price elasticity of supply effect upon whom the incidence of the tax falls"
I'm thinking this also is related to the recent political arguments over who pays US tariffs.
Using gas is like eating dessert first. This is just forcing vegetables as part of the equation.
There will be a carbon tax because people are too short-sighted in identifying long-term impact because - "It doesn't hurt me."
It does...you are just too dense to notice.
To your point, using gas causes externalities. We know how to address externalities broadly. But the political will is lacking due to anti science proponents.
For example: carbon-captured or carbon-neutral fuels have a tax advantage (or even subsidies).
The infrastructure around fossil fuels is big, if you can have a carbon-compensated equivalent to that it could be viable.
if only this was the case. I am afraid it will instead be subsidised by the tax payer.
But your wider point stands: behavioural change via financial incentives.
The projected cost of ccs is much less than $4000/mo even for a oil heated home though.
But now they closed down Fessenheim so more coal would be burned. Thank you Greens, thank you Hollande!
My point rather was that living in a really old badly insulated house or a place with horrendous building standards is a choice, and that has to cost something and not be what we aim for when alternatives are easily possible and has been for decades.
Renewables that are popular now, like solar and wind, are weather dependent, which means the grid needs to handle variable input, which it's not designed to do and would need major fixing. Also means you need to store the energy for when it's not abundant, Germany does this by pumping water into mountain lakes to produce hydro on demand, but they've run out of lakes, so you need batteries. Batteries of a grid-size magnitude need carbon-expensive materials and have their own plethora of problems.
These two problems are only feasibly conquerable in a reasonable timescale by a few countries, for others they are prohibitively expensive, far beyond the small subsidies proposed in things like the Paris Accord. Now, sure, USA, Europe could implement these, but it's not going to fix the problem if Asia, Africa don't, and additionally it's going to add significant economic and geopolitical pressure between these nation-blocs, those who are hamstringing themselves and those who aren't.
Hydro has serious geopolitical issues as fresh water supplies grow more tactically necessary, consider Egypt / Ethiopia right now with the Nile, or China's tibetan plateau snow-seed cannons to capture water before it reaches India.
Tidal has extremely short lifespans, any moving system in salt water is difficult to keep going for more than a few years.
Geothermal is good, but also one of the most expensive and a bit of a "slow burner," not going to be powering anything serious with that without sinking billions into the plant.
The only real solution I see is nuclear, but that's a naughty word for some reason.
Or, we remain with carbon based fuels, except they are synthesized from atmospheric carbon in regions with plenty of solar energy.
These approaches surely have challenges, but I would like to know what are the biggest ones?
I think DME has some potential as an alternative fuel because it can be produced through CO2-to-DME hydrogenation or by using syngas/manure and burned in cleaner diesels (no particulate emissions).
Non-renewable plants have variable output even if it is not dependent on weather, and the grid in fact deals with variations in total and per-plant inputs whether or not solar or wind is attached. If there are problems with that, the need to address them is independent of the use of solar and wind.
Handling a plant going offline is totally different from the logistics of shuttling variable regions of production across the entire country.
Sure, but that's why you favor a regionally balanced mix of renewables, with regional peaker plants (which may not be clean/renewable, but are better than relying on dirty sources for your core needs) not geographic concentration of single sources.
I am sure that if you put your mind to it you can think of some reasons people might feel uneasy about nuclear power. It’s not like incidents involving it are that far in the past.
And new types, like thorium salt reactors don't have classical issues like uranium waste products and much much smaller possibility of runaway reactions. And France has been "5 years away" from fusion reactors for like 30 years on a shoestring budget, with real money that could be a possibility in maybe another 30 years and also dodges all the horror-story problems.
Overall, I agree, modern solar, especially reflector-steam plants shouldn't be lumped in with silicon panels, especially when talking about total carbon footprint. But I do think nuclear carries a lot of unfair baggage that has kept us on oil for way longer than we should have been.
It's the same kind of "leaving problems to the next generation" of current fossil-fuel use except this one is a lot more generations away.
Government action in the form of subsidizing the former and/or taxing the latter is necessary to internalize the externalities so that the relative net cost (benefit) is born by (accrues to) the participants in the transaction.
On paper it looks like a huge win-win.
And Food Security will be a huge issue moving forward in the 21st Century, as seen with COVID Pandemic shortages it can occur very quickly and have dire consequences due to its centralized and broken networks; also it occurred not because farmers cannot produce the product but because they cannot deliver the product to Market, which leads to Global supply chain disruptions.
The consequences of soil depletion is such that the recovery/remediation costs are so high that its far more affordable to deplete/contaminate the area and recover your costs for the inputs via subsidies and cash crops then it is to undertake sustainable Ag. This is model is soon (if it hasn't already) to run out time as unpredictable weather patterns and climate change are distorting what was the 'status quo.' I've seen it in Switzerland where arable farm land is limited and has a huge premium, one of the farmers I knew bought a 5 hecatre plot of land (I forget the crop) from a conventional farmer adjacent to his livestock grazing plot and home that due to pesticide and artificial fertilizer use had become sterile and unable to yield anything of value. The Farmer sold it to him for a pittance, and the continued to put over 15 million CHF to recover the soil over 25 years, incrementally he decided to plant an apple orchid as he went along, until eventually it was completely done via a Biodynamic approach. I saw it and worked in it on its 28th season, and it was quite the experience but was taken away by the cost only to realize that is perhaps the more accurate costs of remediation costs and that what we've been doing has been the artificially suppressed costs of horrible ecological damage that will soon have to be paid.
Just look at China, they're being pounded with floods compounded with COVID, a recent Swine Flu epidemic, and possible Bubonic Plague outbreak in Mongolia all which can impact and require the culling of large scale livestock, which in turn can impact the effects (capacity to carry costs of a farm) of horticulture as well.
Honestly, this reset needed to happen, and I just hope the West (unlike China who has actually had to spend 100s of billions in its contaminated farm land) has the Good Sense to be proactive about this and lead the way, because a significant amount of the Extinction Rebellion Gen Z kids era don't care or want the Carbon-based economy and are already opting out of School model entirely--labor and passionate talent is what is needed the most in that equation, the rest is pretty much already there its just a matter of collective Will.
Which means that unfunded-liabilities like SS and retirement funds, and pensions that rely on consumer based economies and taxes are not just unsustainable they're ready for imminent collapse due to the mass-unemployment and significant contraction in the consumer-based economy. I've come to realize that the Stock Market is essentially all smoke and mirrors, and doesn't reflect much of anything but a real-time gauge of 'how rich people happen to feel that day' and is mainly done with HFT based algorithms. (To base Food on this metric is absolute folly and should revert to a local economic model on a city level.)
Even being a big Tesla proponent, there is no way in hell why Tesla stock price reflects reality and could/should displace Toyota Motors in any way shape or form. Just the sheer scale of Toyota based cars they produce per year dwarfs Tesla's current and foreseeable supply combined, let alone those already on the roads now all over the World which is massive, and I imagine they could/will remain past the critical mass effect of EV because of their very high QC/QA, something Tesla has never actually been able to figure out and has overcome that shortcoming with Brand 'clout.'
So to summarize, its not just on paper: it has to happen as a matter of survival.
Carbon emissions are externalities, regulating them is entirely compatible, if not mandatory, with maintaining a free market.
> Why would anyone agree to pay for it.
Why do you agree to pay taxes? Oh wait, you don't. You are forced to pay them.
> And if we mandate it wouldn't it make fossil products way too expensive and therefore uncompetitive?
Isn't that what you'd want?
> They are already losing to renewables in some regions.
"Some regions" are just low-hanging fruit.
> I just don't see the logic in shitting around and then paying somebody to clean up the shit. It's much easier to just stop shitting.
Only if you stop eating, which you would probably be forced to do if you were to give up on hydrocarbon-based products such as fertilizer. Also, you'll die.
Alternatively, if you were to just "shit somewhere else" instead, you will need a way to store and transform that shit. That's exactly what carbon sequestration is.
Most budget/spending and political decisions by the government should be subject to approval by the people. Everybody should have a government login and could vote through a website or app. I wouldn't mind voting once or twice per day or even more, as it would be more productive and fulfilling than social media.
We don't need optimal decisions, in fact politicians are also not experts at the decisions they make, even worse, they make decisions based on who paid them to make them. What we need is proper representation and distribution of power.
The idea of a republic is that one elects a wise leader who can take the time to understand the issues and surround themselves with knowledgeable experts that can help fill in the gaps — which isn't even remotely possible in a direct democracy, as not everyone can know an expert in every necessary field.
Now, that said, our country is obviously quite far from an ideal republic. But I think it's other things — gerrymandering, a lack of good participation by voters, and a FPTP voting system that forces a two-party system — which many people think would persist pretty much as-is in a popular vote system —, and forces voters to vote for someone other than who they want to vote for. (Some would also add money-in-government, i.e., rolling back Citizens United; I'm still on the fence there, myself, as it would also prevent coordinated efforts by citizens.)
I don't know how to fix that, but I'm very doubtful that abandoning representative democracy in favour of direct votes on all governmental decisions would be a positive step. It seems likely to just hand even more power to whichever charismatic populists and fashionable "influencers" can persuade people to vote blindly for whatever they promote.
We also have data now, and for what we don't have data we should be running experiments and collecting data to make better decisions.
I've argued it before, and get rebutted with things such as "we need to let the experts decide, average people don't understand nuance" or "we don't want rule by mob/majority" or "get involved in your local community meetings instead" or "what if the people vote to exterminate minorities", etc. But the fact of the matter is that some sort of direct-democracy, or individual-level decision making (such as suggested above regarding tax-spending) would allow society to self-correct and adapt without the need for complicated and "expert" interventions. I understand the extreme examples, sure, but we're not even trying to involve the populace more for even minor things.
On a side note, with my conspiracy hat on, this is why "electronic" voting is opposed so heavily. That and the whole "votes have to be anonymous yet independently verifiable but not linked to your identity because you might sell your vote" nonsense. Because the natural consequence of a reduction of cost when it comes to voting is that we'd end up voting on more granular things and more often, and we can't have that. Instead we want people to enact change by fostering "movements" and "protesting for change", because that really doesn't do anything at the end of the day.
The average American isn't remotely qualified to make these types of decisions. That's why direct democracy has never, ever, in the history of humanity, worked in a society above a few dozen people.
> I understand the extreme examples, sure, but we're not even trying to involve the populace more for even minor things.
Let's try a non-extreme example - naming a post-office. The lefties want to name it after Rosa Parks and the righties want to name it after Stonewall Jackson. The vote ends up 51/49 in either direction - how do you feel that type of conflict would resolve itself in 2020? It's much, much better for the stability of the government to keep passionate people away from the majority of the mundane work of government. Plebiscites should be reserved only for massive issues, like changes to the Constitution.
> On a side note, with my conspiracy hat on, this is why "electronic" voting is opposed so heavily.
It's because security experts have repeatedly exposed how flawed these systems are, and how cheaply and effectively voting is done with paper and pencil.
So what? that's just an excuse to keep power away from them. We are already getting incredibly important decisions made by totally unqualified people (e.g. Pandemic response by the current administration) not only are making bad decisions, they are making them in their own best interest, in detriment to the people they are supposed to represent.
> That's why direct democracy has never, ever, in the history of humanity, worked in a society above a few dozen people.
Examples please? What country/government has ever implemented a real/direct democracy?
> Examples please? What country/government has ever implemented a real/direct democracy?
That's my point. The French revolutionaries tried it for a minute until they realized you can't run a nation-state that way - it's too complex and the average person is too disconnected from the issues to fully grok the n-th order consequences. Plus the tyranny of the masses tends to get out of hand.
The current administration is a product of the current system. And it is a great example of what's wrong with it. It's amazing that you are using it to defend the system instead.
> The French revolutionaries tried it for a minute until they realized you can't run a nation-state that way - it's too complex and the average person is too disconnected from the issues to fully grok the n-th order consequences. Plus the tyranny of the masses tends to get out of hand.
Technology and data should help tremendously in solving the issues you present. Tools which were not available to the French revolutionaries. Also you shouldn't throw something completely out the window just because of one failed attempt hundreds of years ago.
It's the worst system, except for all the others that have been tried. Not making rash decisions off black swan events is another reason to avoid direct democracy.
> Technology and data should help tremendously in solving the issues you present. Tools which were not available to the French revolutionaries. Also you shouldn't throw something completely out the window just because of one failed attempt hundreds of years ago.
Adding technology and data make the process even more fragile and prone to being messed with. How are you going to bash the existing government, and then act like we're somehow going to create a direct democracy based on technology that's fully secure and consistent? What happens when a hurricane knocks out power in Florida? Are they just paralyzed because no one can do their daily voting?
Voting systems should use the minimal amount of technology and the maximum amount of privacy. That doesn't even get into how most people wouldn't want the cognitive burden you are trying to impose on them.
I'm not sure people need any more authority or engagement than they already have in making decisions for people 1000 miles away.
A while back I heard someone propose the idea of "delegating" your vote to an arbitrary person and they'd vote on individual vote items on your behalf, or consequently "delegate" it yet again to someone above. Essentially creating a giant hierarchy of representation.
I’d rather we could earmark our tax payments.
I wouldn’t send anything to any department involved in trampling basic human rights. I also wouldn’t pay a cent to oil or corn subsidies.
In such a system, I imagine Amtrak and the department of education would be getting 10x more than they do now.
Similarly, I suspect the US would be carbon negative in a few years.
The supreme court ruled money is speech, so I argue that not letting me earmark my payments is suppressing my speech.
Why would that be broken on a societal level, and how is it not "democratic" to allow people to allocate their "voluntarily given" taxes how they please? What are we afraid of happening? Can we not control the problem slightly and just give them high-level categories to try it out?
There are merits to such a system, but I suspect they don't align politically with what you intended.
So, yes it could happen because the US government currently ticks that box already and lots of companies are benefiting from all sorts of subsidized programs to funnel tax money into the cause of destroying our planet as fast as we can. Basically, this would be a yet another tax funded effort benefiting big oil, much of the car industry, etc. It's so plausible because the same kind of things have been happening for decades already.
The question why anyone would pay for that kind of thing is indeed one that needs answering because the US seems to consistently end up with leadership actively promoting exactly these kind of things and there's an election coming up with a clear choice one way or another.
If you have a cube of balls 100 * 100 * 100 you've got a million balls. Then mark 400 random balls. Then lets them all fall to the floor. Find the marked balls.
That's what sifting though 400 parts per million looks like and c02 molecules are smaller than ping pong balls.
There is a CCS capable coal seam within 50 km of every coal and natural gas power plant in N. America, so in the minority of cases where falling LCOE of renewables doesn't outcompete existing generation naturally it might make sense to incentivise CCS, provided that the produced natural gas would further enable renewables.
The net carbon impact could be even more significant in China.
I don't understand this, care to expand?
Anyway, CCS is probably already economically viable because it is legal, and there’s no way large institutions will stop burning fossil fuels.
It would make more economic sense to transfer all of the oil subsidies to environmentally sustainable energy, but that’s politically impossible.
It’s no more likely than SF making it illegal to lock a bathroom, and simultaneously spending enough money for social services to reduce the homeless population.
If fossil fuels weren't available, profitable activities that currently release carbon from fossil fuels would be done in other ways.
For example, plastics could be made from plants, and a lot of carbon from the atmosphere would end up in landfills as a side effect of making disposable consumer goods.
> The parable of the broken window was introduced by French economist Frédéric Bastiat to illustrate why destruction, and the money spent to recover from destruction, is not actually a net benefit to society.
CCS is literally unburning coal and oil. Gathering ashes (CO2) and putting them back in the ground. Instead of energy producing goods and services, it just funnels air into the ground. The energy needed for this is at least the same energy that was released in the last 200 years.
It's also needed to stave off catastrophe and civilisation collapse, but let's not kid ourselves: it doesn't produce anything, except in indirect ways. Capitalism is not equipped to deal with this scenario.
Edit: to be clear: I’m not saying we shouldn’t do anything, I’m just saying the solution cannot be to make disparity between rich and poor even larger
Billionaires continue to have their G-wagons flown around the world for them.
"It's pure expense. Why would anyone agree to pay for it."
The outlook is getting exponentially worse each year. But, yeah, we need to be strongly net negative in a few decades.
It takes a while, but that's the predictable final outcome of failing to remove the carbon that is causing climate change.
- Action must be taken before you see consequences
- The best time to act is right away, though it might not seem a big deal if you do
- You need to trust experts
- Taking some initial economic damage is unavoidable...
- ... but is ultimately much cheaper than not taking that hit
- strong leadership and a unified population is needed to align interests and create mutually beneficial cooperation
But the US failed spectacularly, and most importantly learned nothing from it.
If we can’t control pandemic easily we are certainly going to fail to make any progress on global warming
CCS is more likely to succeed and will lead to significantly less bloodshed than overthrowing all the governments at once.
And how would you go about doing that? I am genuinely curious. Do you know of any organisation that is going to do the forcing? I would be happy to donate. Or do you know a way I can do forcible removal myself without risking my life?
If you’re in the US, vote this fall, and hope the Democrats make good on their campaign promises.
It’s better than nothing.
there's no way forward regarding global warming with the current US insitution of leadership, comprised of both major parties. they've got to be removed for the most optimal response to climate change, but doing so will be ghastly.
that's why i've started hunting for CCS solutions/companies to invest in/ways to start a company to leverage CCS for profit. we're going to need a massive mop to clean up the mess the baby boomers are still insisting on making worse.