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Climate Change “Solutions” by wildcat

March 2, 2011

Contrary to what the lack of attention in the mainstream media may imply, climate change is still a very real and pressing problem. To all those claiming it has yet to show its face, the past decade has been the hottest ever, crops are already suffering from changing weather patters, and people are already becoming displaced by rising sea levels. I don’t have a similarly concise rebuttal to those challenging the point that current climate change is anthropogenic (caused by humans) except to refer to the consensus among scientists that it is indeed. On a short side note, the deniers’ favorite straw man, the global cooling craze of the 80s’, was caused not by a consensus of scientists, but by a tiny dissenting minority. Another, that of the ozone hole caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), frequently used in refrigerator coolants, is in fact still present, and actually has been partially mitigated by a ban on CFCs in most First World Countries. For example, Australia, below the ozone hole, has the highest rate of skin cancer.

To help you sort through possible solutions to the pressing problem and its likely consequences (for example, displacement of more than half the world’s population within 50 years), I’ll discuss some of those at the forefront of public consciousness.

Biofuel: The argument for biofuel is logically flawed, so much so that one might say it is kneecapped by the huge gaping flaw. Instead of releasing carbon stored in fossilized plants (aka petroleum and coal), supporters intend to decrease the amount of carbon released from energy production by burning unfossilized plants (which are also less energy efficient than the fossilized varieties). In addition, biofuels will and have driven up food prices, again, impacting the unprivileged the most. Unless there is a way to use biofuels without burning them, they are not a solution to climate change.

Solar: The solar option has no flaws except for the economic cost and scarcity of some required elements. Really, if we want to change the world for the better, economic cost shouldn’t even be considered a grave flaw, given that just a small fraction of funds spent on imprisoning and killing unprivileged peoples could fund massive solar power farms. Solar power is obviously regionally effective, given variations in sunlight distribution, but in combination with other methods, this is not a real problem.

Geothermal: See solar, except geothermal has the boon of requiring no exceptionally scarce materials.

Wind: See geothermal, except with the added disadvantage of bird kills.

Hydropower: It would probably be best done using the tides of the oceans, but river dams are highly environmentally and socially destructive (flooding of historical locations and agriculturally productive land).

Nuclear: There is no safe way to store nuclear waste, which will remain radioactive and thus harmful for thousands of years, even assuming an accident will never occur in both production, transfer, and storage of waste. Some elaborations of possible accidents and risks include meltdown, increased access to nuclear weapons, and environmental devastation of uranium mining. As nuclear power is implemented now, it is often subsidized by governments, while private corporations reap all the profits.

Clean” coal: The US will push this because it is the world’s largest source of coal. Not only is there no way to burn it without releasing carbon, mining it is highly environmentally destructive (mountaintop removal in Appalachia, for example).

Terrestrial carbon sequestration (by injecting gaseous carbon deep underground): It is uncertain that underground carbon sinks will not leak. Not only will leaking defeat the purpose of the operation, but could also cause mass suffocation at the site of a large leak. This is often what is done for carbon offset credits in the cap and trade scheme.

Cap and trade: All the existing criticisms of markets apply, such as inevitable lack of knowledge and thus imbalances on by all participants, non-monetary values being quashed, and externalization of costs. The idea of cap and trade itself lacks merit because the poor would be immediately disadvantaged unless they would be given generous caps at the expense of the privileged. In execution, of course, many problems abound, such as that the largest releasers of carbon have been given huge caps (the explanation is that caps are set based on current carbon release), audits are not nearly as frequent and accurate as needed, and carbon offsets may not actually work. The whole idea requires either very honest private (corporate) auditors, or the extra dead weight of government bureaucracy, both of which would be compromised by the fact that the elite are the very people that produce the most carbon emissions.

Aquatic carbon sequestration: There is evidence that encouraging rampant algae growth in fact increases carbon release because algae feeders reproduce at a tremendous rate and consume the algae, not only releasing carbon by respiration, but also consuming all the oxygen around them, resulting in huge dead zones. While there may be ways to grow algae in isolated tanks, this is not what is usually referred to, and may not be sustainable.

Consumer efficiency: residential areas are only responsible for less than ten percent of carbon emissions. Thus, consumer efficiency is not a very effective solution. The three largest sources of US carbon emissions are electricity generation, transportation and industry, which together accounted for 79.5% of emissions in 2004 (Environmental Protection Agency).

 

It is evident that what needs to occur are not minor consumer behavioral changes, such as changing light bulbs and taking colder and shorter showers, though these don’t hurt. Instead, huge societal changes need to occur. Electricity generation needs to come from truly renewable and non-carbon releasing sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower, though all need to be judiciously applied with social and environmental concerns in mind. The individual automobile society comes to an end, replaced by a socially and environmentally responsible society that relies upon mass transportation, localization, and sustainability. Given that the elite have nothing to gain from social and economic transformation, don’t expect governments or corporations to spearhead or even agree to it. Change of this nature is in your hands.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2011 6:52 pm

    bros,
    assuming this is discussing the US resources, most of these solutions are largely non-applicable. hydropower sites have already been capped, and potential sites for geothermal energy are largely non-existent. solar has no viability as a long-term solution as the indium and gallium necessary for current and next-gen solar installations are estimated to peak in less than 10 years, and the cost per kW is in excess of any other current methods. all carbon sequestration and geo-engineering solutions would require cap and trade programs to function in the private market, which is unlikely for the reasons you asserted.

    nuclear energy has become increasingly embraced in european countries, specifically France, and is the only currently viable option to replace fossil fuels on a scalable and universal level. the risk of a meltdown from current nuclear plants is very improbable if not entirely impossible due to modern containment systems, and any argument about waste leakage during transport is moot due to the fact that on-site storage is currently mandated by law. nuclear weapons proliferation has been banned since 1968 and nuclear dismantling has proceeded unimpeded consistently, providing increased fissile matter for use in nuclear power. not only is nuclear power motivation to dismantle existing stockpiles, but its cost per kW is progressively cheaper than even coal, despite a long term morotorium on new sites. any of the regionally dependent energy technologies would require significant infrastructure increases to the american grid to be effective, yet nuclear would require no such improvements.

    the leftover political influence of the anti-nuclear movement that previously defined much of the american left and environmentalist movement further solidifies a reliance on fossil fuels, which themselves release far more radioactive isotopes per kW and have much destructive mining technique. this anti-nuclear sentiment is a relic from the cold war era where civil and military nuclear developments were without distinction and nuclear technology was increasingly underdeveloped. in today’s situation, all it achieves is an enforcement of the status quo, or investment into pipe-dream technologies that have little practicality in their current implementations.

  2. December 8, 2014 12:56 pm

    Hydro Infra Technologies (HIT), a Swedish clean tech company based in Stockholm, has developed an innovative patent pending approach for neutralizing carbon fuel emissions by generating a novel gas called Hydro Nano Gas (HNG).
    In spite of all the advancement happening in the energy sector, global economies are still dependent on fossil fuels as the interlinked chain of costs to completely replace the burning of fossil fuels with more clean and sustainable options is beyond the financial resources of even the richest nations.

    This in turn effects the climate change scenario which has been continuously increasing as more pollution and green house gases are created from burning fossil fuels on a daily basis.

    This dilemma requires a new approach with safe, cost effective and smart solutions; the solution in sight? Making any fossil fuel climate neutral – and this is exactly what HIT’s Hydro Nano Gas proposes to do.
    Water contains 2 basic elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen. These 2 basic elements can be split, divided and utilized. Splitting water (H2O) is a known science. But the energy costs to perform splitting outweigh the energy created from hydrogen when the Hydrogen is split from the water molecule H2O. This is where mainstream science usually closes the book on the subject.
    HIT took a different approach by postulating that it was not only possible but indefinitely sustainable to split water in an energy efficient way to extract a high yield of Hydrogen at very low cost.

    The process of creating HNG involves pulsing an range of low energy frequencies in a very specific sequence into water. The pulsing treatment effectively manipulates the molecules to line up in a certain structure which are then put through a splitting process. The result is HNG.

    Being exotic as it is, HNG displays some very different properties from normal hydrogen. For instance: HNG instantly neutralizes carbon fuel pollution emissions; HNG can be pressurized up to 2 bars; HNG combusts at a rate of 9000 meters per second while normal Hydrogen combusts at a rate 600 meters per second; oxygen values actually increase when HNG is inserted into a diesel flame; and finally, HNG acts like a vortex on fossil fuel emissions causing the flame to be pulled into the centre thus concentrating the heat and combustion properties.
    Injecting HNG into a combustion chamber produces several effects that increase the burn efficiency of the fuels. HNG gasification effectively burns unburned residue/cluster while completing the burn process quicker. The long term impact of using HNG in the burning of fossil fuels can provide the balanced solution for the on going economic-climate change debate.
    The new technology is also found to be effective in the treatment of polluted water; when HNG Nano bubbles are injected into polluted water, a microbe chain reaction is initiated that rapidly triggers and boosts the waters’ own organic repairing process. While further testing and validation are required, the discovery creates new potential in providing solutions to critical areas of global pollution.
    HIT is also developing a Smoke Eliminator for all sorts of plants and facilities. The process reduces the need for smoke analysis as it results in a clean wet scrubber technology where CO2 becomes a clean by-product ready to be reused.
    Further, a miniaturized version of the standard HNG reactor will help HIT achieve its goal of gassing 9,000 cubic meters of smoke volume per second. Using Nano technology, the reactor will see the beginning of a new technology phase for each HNG application, reports HIT.
    The HIT innovation story begins in the 1980’s when a small team of dedicated technicians, researchers and engineers came together to innovate real world solutions based on the theoretical research conducted by Nobel prize winner Professor Yuan Tse Lee. The goal was clear – to ‘crack’ the Hydrogen code.
    In late 2012, after years of on / off research and experimentation, they finally cracked the code and HNG was born.

    HIT was formed to spread their discoveries to the world as Information Technology via joint venture partners.

    HIT has also selected SGS – the worlds leading testing/validation and certification company – to be its’ permanent testing-validation protocol partner, providing certification that enables HIT to expand into global markets.

    Read more about HIT: http://www.hydroinfra.com

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