By now you’ve heard that the most recent IPCC report shows that humanity is in a dire situation and we need to act now to avoid making the planet uninhabitable to humanity. That is, if we keep doing what we’re currently doing with too much consumption and the use of planet-destroying gas and oil. So let’s change what energy sources we use while reducing excessive consumption by the extra wealthy. It really is that simple and all we need to do it act.
To save the planet vote for politicians that want to curb carbon output and increase the use of renewables. Whenever possible get rid of gas-consuming devices in your life and use 100% electric replacements.
The most heartening section of the report is on alternatives to fossil fuel use. The overarching solution to our energy needs is to electrify everything we can, from heating buildings to transport, and power everything using clean renewables and storage. We are getting a huge helping hand from great leaps forward in clean technology.
Between 2010 and 2019, the report says that the cost of solar energy plummeted by 85%, wind energy by 55% and lithium-ion batteries by 85%. These are staggering figures that point to a radically reshaped energy future. With the tsunami of suffering that is about to engulf UK households from soaring energy costs set by skyrocketing gas prices, everyone in government needs to see this message. There is a cheaper, cleaner way.
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.
The COP26 news coverage has focussed on pledges from counties to cut their emissions (which is good) and on funding for new technologies to suck carbon out of the air (which isn’t so good). Increasingly scientists, ecologists, and activists have been calling out that technical solutions are a distraction from the core problem: we’re burning up fossil fuels. Technology won’t save us, cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero will.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t research carbon capture technologies, rather we should prioritize not putting more carbon into the air in the first place. Leave the oil in the ground, stop all coal consumption, and ban the production of fossil fuel powered engines.
“Simply put, technological carbon capture is a dangerous distraction,” they wrote. “We don’t need tofixfossil fuels, we need toditchthem.”
Despite these groups’ concerns, we’re likely to be bombarded with more good-news climate stories like the coverage accorded to the plant in Merritt and the project in Iceland. And carbon capture, utilization, and storage is a key component of Canada and B.C.’s plans for reducing overall emissions.
The report acknowledges that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s future scenarios allow for the deployment of carbon-capture technologies from the air in achieving the Paris targets.
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.
Electric energy production using non-renewable processes produces an immense amount of carbon, and as a civilization we can’t afford to put more carbon in the atmosphere. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder set out to figure out how much pollution do power plants actually produce and what can we do about the worst ones. They found that 73% of pollution came from just 5% of power plants, unsurprisingly those plants used coal. So let’s shut them down!
According to the authors of the research, the emission intensity of the ten worst plants exceeded those of other fossil fuel power plants in their home countries in 2018 at a rate 28.2 percent to 75.6 percent higher than their counterparts. This suggests that the plants are very inefficient in burning coal, the research showed.
â€œWhy these relatively inefficient plants are used so heavily is a topic ripe for future investigation,â€ the authors wrote.