January 12, 2011
Wow. That's Really Helpful.
Posted by scott at January 12, 2011 03:20 PM
Observation: Even if everyone, right now, and I mean right this second, turned everything off and zeroed our fossil fuel consumption, climate change will continue for another 1000 years.
Conclusion: LET'S DO IT!!!
No, really, after six paragraphs of pythonesque head-bonking, and one paragraph of motherly guilt on the successful kids, the author comes to the startling conclusion we must in fact do something that has already been predicted to fail. The mind boggles.
I do not deny climate change is happening. I do not doubt it is worrying. I believe we should do something about it.
I deny what motivates the green lobby is the environment. I doubt the judgment of people who think it is. I believe all the solutions currently proposed are actively harmful and will not work.
Find better solutions.
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I agree - it's another call to inadvertently* bankrupt and/or kill off American trade. The push here, very clearly, needs to be to find sustainable and supportable actions that can be taken. Myriads of them so each individual country and person can take those actions which are in their personal best interest.
Plant more trees is one of my favorites. I like trees, they sequester large amounts of carbon, they shade us (read: make things cooler), etc.
If I was so inclined I should to the math to see how many trees I need to plant in order to offset the loss in mpg that my X is getting due to all the armor I'm bolting on.
*Malice vs incompetence
I still think an even better idea would be to convert the farming subsidies to switchgrass subsidies. You have to grow switchgrass (which grows in harsher climates than either corn or sugarcane, the only two plants that sequester even more carbon per growth season, and isn't edible) and turn it over to the EPA to receive a subsidy. The EPA buries the switchgrass in abandoned coal mines, from the bottom up. Some environmental disruption is inevitable, but nowhere near that caused by pumping pressurized CO2 into an oil reservoir (anti-spam won't let me link the news article, oh well). It would more be like having a new buried peat bog in the area. With some minor engineering tweaks, we could even channel the small amounts of natural gas released by the decay, safely turning the only realistic health hazard into a small revenue, while keeping the majority of the carbon sealed away until it's reduced to coal once more.
Definitely workable. Another solution is to use the switchgrass or similar product and then plow it under. Repeat each year. You enrich the soil (good), reduce transportation costs and fuel usage (good), and a simple audit will determine whether or not folks are complying. Since no fertilizer should be needed and weeds aren't an issue, this should work pretty well.
Then, if we need crops from that land due to whatever disaster, the land shouldn't need all that much prep to get going.
Unfortunately, that's only a carbon-neutral approach. The switchgrass decomposes and there are no natural or engineered features to contain the release of the resulting greenhouse gases, either directly or in the form of new life forms that grow on it. In order to actually compensate for carbon emissions elsewhere, especially in third world countries whose people would rather kill and eat the entire IPCC than stop modernizing for any reason at all, any solution will not only have to be carbon neutral, but as strongly carbon-negative as it's possible to get.
True - some level of carbon and other emissions would be generated, but a decent amount would stay there in the form of natural loam/compost in the soil.
Until people grow food on it, whereupon the carbon re-enters the food chain. As long as we also keep using carbon for things outside the food chain, like making wind turbines and solar cells, greenhouse gas emissions will keep increasing. That's why biofuel isn't really a solution either, you're just re-emitting the carbon that was taken out of the air, and the inherent entropy of the process only makes the greenhouse gases keep accumulating.
The only real solution is to put back the carbon that was removed, preferably at a much higher concentration than what it was when it was first removed. Taking advantage of the natural features that lead to fossil fuels being concentrated in the places they were originally mined from is very likely to be the most cost-effective means of doing so.