The Carbon Con
PIM of SPAIN | May 2, 2009 at 11:18 amby
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Additionally the International Council for Science (ICSU) in Paris a federation of scientific associations from around the world, has issued a report concluding that most analyses made, have underestimated the importance to global warming of a gas called nitrous oxide (N2O) by a factor of between three and five. Although N2O is not common in the Earth’s atmosphere, it is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 and it hangs around much longer. The result is that, over the course of a century, its ability to warm the planet is almost 300 times that of an equivalent mass of CO2. The ICSU report suggests N2O emissions in general are probably more important than had been realized.
More that even the production of biofuels has aggravated rather than improved global warming.
In the rich countries a CO2 Emission trading or ‘cap trade’ has been put in place, which is an administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. Due to emissions trading, coal will become less competitive than other fuels.
A central authority, usually a government or international body, sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that can be emitted. Companies or other groups are issued emission permits and are required to hold an equivalent number of allowances or credits, which represent the right to emit a specific amount. The total amount of allowances and credits cannot exceed the cap, limiting total emissions to that level. Companies that need to increase their emission allowance must buy credits from those who pollute less. The transfer of allowances is referred to as a trade. In effect, the buyer is paying a charge for polluting, while the seller is being rewarded for having reduced emissions by more than was needed. Thus, in theory, those that can easily reduce emissions most cheaply will do so, achieving the pollution reduction at the lowest possible cost to society.
There is about 50 times as much carbon dissolved in the oceans in the form of CO2 and carbonic acid, bicarbonate and carbonate ions as exist in the atmosphere. The oceans act as an enormous carbon sink, having "absorbed about one-third of all human-generated CO2 emissions to date. Gas solubility decreases as the temperature of water increases and therefore the rate of uptake from the atmosphere decreases as ocean temperatures rise.
Most of the CO2 taken up by the ocean forms carbonic acid in equilibrium with bicarbonate and carbonate ions. Some is consumed in photosynthesis by organisms in the water (as algae), and a small proportion of that sinks and leaves the carbon cycle. Increased CO2 in the atmosphere has led to increasing acidity of seawater and there is some concern that this may adversely affect organisms living in the water.
China is adding 100 Giga-Watts of coal-fired electrical capacity a year. That's per year three times as much as the whole of USA emits, with no end in sight. Much of the rest of the developing world is on a similar path. China, not the United States, is planet's largest emitter. Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and others are just following. And these countries have all made it clear that they aren't interested in spending money that they don’t have. While emissions from motor vehicles are responsible for under a quarter of man-made carbon dioxide.
It is pointless to argue, that global warming can be solved at a cost of 1 to 2 percent of the global economy.
The rich 20% can't stop world's 5 billion poor people from burning the trillion tons of cheap carbon that they have easily available. There is no chance for durable reduction in global emissions, because emissions from the developing world are growing too fast. The other 80 percent of humanity desperately needs cheap energy because they are meanwhile part of the same global economy. Foolish enough the west is having them producing even more by outsourcing their production, loosing their jobs in the process, and let them discharging more carbon faster. Poor countries all around the globe do have the largest energy source within reach in the form of carbon, about a trillion ton of cheap and easy accessible coal.
The only solution that will work is to provide the 80% with cheaper energy without carbon emission, than they obtain from coal. Simply the most sensible alternative is developing ultra cheap carbon free energy. This would mean beating the price of coal used to generate electricity at under 3 cents per kilowatt-hour.
In mind comes renewable energy from the power of wind, the sun, or tidal wave, you name it. But besides being carbon emission free, all these technologies are not cheap enough. No carbon-free fuel or technology comes remotely close to the under 3 ct/KW except nuclear energy.
Nuclear energy complies with the Kyoto Protocol. Nuclear power is compact while commercial operators in countries like France where 80% of their energy need is generated this way, and the U.S.A., Japan, all have credibly established that this type of energy generation is safe and cheap and probably becoming even cheaper when engineers are allowed to develop it further. The only draw back may be the up-front capital investment for a power plant, and the discharge of nuclear waste. But with all the bailout money slugging around this should just be the opportunity to make the change for the better. On the other hand, most of the cost of carbon-based energy comes not from the cost of the fuels used but also from capital investment for the infrastructure of furnaces, turbines, and engines. Thus not cheap either compared with nuclear.
Another important argument getting over carbon, nevertheless, be comparatively cheap, is eliminating the dependence on oil. Accordingly generating power from nuclear energy is cheaper than from oil and the even still cheaper coal. Contrary by sharply boosting the cost of coal trough emission trading the war on carbon will make the rich 20% more dependent on oil and not less.
If something serious about carbon has to be undertaken than the only practical solution is sequestration* of carbon after it's burned. At least it is an approach that the rest of the world including the 80% can embrace, too, because it begins with improving land use, which can lead directly and quickly to greater prosperity.
Conclusion: The carbon-reduction policy scheme as yet put into practice doesn’t help to reduce the quantity of carbon emitted, it appears more a political concoction, than that it really solves anything. Despite how much we would like to solve this, it is virtually impossible along the chosen route! It only will make the 20% rich people poorer, unable to control the demand for carbon and even more dependent on Middle Eastern crude, which on its turn consequently will become more expensive as result of the law ‘supply and demand’. Nonetheless it still is realistic to go green, but that requires other avenues to be employed:
If… 30 odd years ago the world had continued with the accomplishment of nuclear energy, we wouldn’t have been confronted with nowadays carbon issue, heating up our planet that unfortunately cannot quickly be stopped either.
Absolutely we can become green if we accept that nuclear power is the only alternative for cheap energy for all people on the planet. The only immediate step possible to be taken is the general applicable and successful approach of Carbon Sequestration. The long-term approach will be investing in Nuclear Energy generation that on its turn can generate synthetic diesel fuel from coal. Meanwhile equally important is an urgent additional scientific investigation into the damaging aspects of nitrous oxide N20 on Earth’s atmosphere.
* Carbon sequestration is a geo-engineering technique for the long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon, for the mitigation of global warming, by injecting Carbon Dioxide into old oil wells or other subterranean reservoirs as permanent storage.
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PIM of SPAIN
San Pedro de A, Malaga, Spain
San Pedro de A, Malaga, Spain
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