The best thing to do to prevent climate change is to stop burning fossil fuels, until that happens we need to find ways to extract carbon from the air to reduce the speed of climate change. Of course, carbon removal needs to be powered by renewable systems themselves. The XPrize for carbon removal kicked off in February, part of that launch involved a competition for universities to apply for funding radical carbon removal ideas. The winners have been announced and the projects are looking at everything from cleaning up asbestos to making a tea out of yard waste.
The Blue Symbiosis team from Australia’s University of Tasmania is looking to tap into the natural CO2-absorbing properties of seaweed, by repurposing oil and gas rigs as regenerative farming sites. The offshore platforms provide the trunk, while the seaweed will act as the branches, according to the team. The team aims to scale up production to the point where the system can have a real impact on ocean health, with part of the seaweed to also be used in construction materials such as fire-resilient bricks, enabling the carbon being stored to be quantified.
“I researched the potential of repurposing oil and gas infrastructure to regenerative seaweed sites, which led to the conclusion that this holds real promise for both environmental and commercial reasons,” says team leader Joshua Castle. “Decommissioning oil and gas infrastructure is an emerging AU$60-billion (US$44-billion) problem for governments and industries in which they are expected to share the costs. Seaweed has the potential to deliver vast environmental benefits for ocean health – but if it can’t be scaled, significant impacts on ocean health can’t be realized.
A company in Iceland captures carbon right out of the air and injects into the earth, the operation is a working proof that we can take carbon out of thin air. The carbon capture and storage (ccs) process is one of many options we have as a species to advert our own demise. With COP26 starting next week we not only need to get politicians to enforce policies to help the environment (like cutting market manipulating polices like oil subsidies) but to invest in building ccs solutions.
The Economist magazine (which is incredibly slow in acknowledging the world changes) has a good article exploring the state of ccs and what options we have. There are multiple solutions and we should explore them all.
Without a doubt our focus should be on reducing carbon emissions, but there’s no reason we can’t reduce our carbon output while also looking into capturing it.
The negative emissions is held to offer play two roles in climate stabilisation. One might be seen as balancing the current carbon account. Although most emissions can theoretically be eliminated using technologies that exist now, aviation, shipping and some industrial processes remain hard to decarbonise.Some agricultural greenhouse-gas emissions look as if they will prove recalcitrant. As long as emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases persist, stabilisation will require negative emissions.
The other role foris getting rid of historical excess. As we have seen, the cumulative CO2-emissions budget consistent with a 50-50 chance of meeting the 2°C goal is 3.7trn tonnes. The budget for 1.5°C is just 2.9trn tonnes. With 2.4trn tonnes already emitted, that leaves a decade of emissions at today’s rates for 1.5°C, maybe 25 years for 2°C.
Way back in 1987 nations of the world signed the Montreal Protocol to address some environmental problems. The biggest environmental issue discussed at the time was the hole in the ozone layer and thanks to everyone confronting it the hole in the ozone layer is basically gone. It’s proof that if the political will is there then we can solve any global environmental problem by working together!
We donâ€™t hear much about the hole in the ozone layer anymore. Thatâ€™s because weâ€™ve all but fixed it, thanks to consumer choices and a massive international agreement called the Montreal Protocol. Can we learn anything from this environmental success story that will help us fix climate change?
The Berlin Wall marked a negative time in recent history in which two sides couldn’t communicate well and severed a country, and families, in two. During the Cold War people risked their lives tring to escape to West Germany from the oppressive East. The tearing down of the wall was a true turning point in modern history and it’s great to celebrate years of peace in Germany since its collapse.
As always, the Berlin Wall represents the inability to have meaningful conversations within our civilization. Let’s hope that no more walls between peoples get built.
The recoherence of Berlin over that later period is a testament to how far the country has come. Differences between the old east and west halves remain, some subtle (in the east street lights are yellow and the traffic-light man wears a hat, in the west they are white and he is bare-headed) and others more fundamental (Ossis support Union and are more likely to vote for the political extremes, Wessis cheer on Hertha Berlin and tend to vote centrist). But generally, to quote Brandt, â€œwhat belongs together grows togetherâ€. Central Berlin has been rebuilt, new east-west transport arteries like the cathedral-like Hauptbahnhof are open and others are under construction. Peter Schneider, a veteran chronicler of the city, writes: â€œThe fall of the Wall and the reunification of Berlinâ€™s two halves have sped up the cityâ€™s pulse, injecting new life energy. Itâ€™s as if the city had won back a temporal dimension that, during the years of the Wall, seemed to have disappeared from West Berlin and was merely alleged to exist in East Berlin: the futureâ€.
To be sure, the past is visible too. Berlin epitomises the German knack for sensitively accommodating the scars of history. Parts of the wall have been preserved as memorials and much of the route is now traced by cobble stones which disappear under buildings built in the old death stripâ€”The Economistâ€™s premises in Berlin among themâ€”and re-emerge on the other side. In a plot once bordered by the wall a block from the Reichstag, to which the Bundestag moved from Bonn in 1999, sits the Holocaust memorial, an undulating 5-acre sea of tombstone-like concrete slabs. When, last month, a local historian discovered a forgotten stretch of the wall in the woods by a suburban train line, it was a rare sight: an unarchived, uncurated piece of the cityâ€™s 20th century traumas.
Economic influencers and generally super-rich have occupied Davos, Switzerland this week to discuss how to get wealthier. They also discuss global issues that impact more than just their own wealth. Unsurprisingly interest in climate change and inequality during the Davos meeting increases every year. This year the host of the event, the World Economic Forum (WEF), presented an alternative to the stale measurement of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to assess how well countries are performing. They call it the inclusive development index which takes into consideration income inequality.
The WEF proposes a measure of its own, dubbed the â€œinclusive development index.â€ While it takes into account growth, as measured using GDP per capita, employment, and productivity, it also incorporates several other metrics, including gauges of poverty, life expectancy, public debt, median income, wealth inequality and carbon intensity. The index also considers investments in human capital, the depletion of natural resources, and damage caused by pollution.
This is the second year WEF has published the Inclusive Development Index, and the second time Norway has topped the list for advanced economies, scoring highly on all indicators except wealth inequality. Norwayâ€™s high rankings on everything from median income and public debt to pollution, suggest that it will be difficult to fulfill Donald Trumpâ€™s desire to entice more Norwegians away from their homeland to the US, which ranked 23rd.