Showing posts from January, 2015

Not Primarily Political

One serious misconception rampant in the climate discourse is that "climate action" is mainly a political issue. "If only we had political will to tackle the problem." In reality, it is not. Gay marriage, equal pay, the minimum wage, etc., are primarily political in nature, but in the climate arena (in other words, respecting our civilization's CO2 emissions) the solutions are only tangentially political, but fundamentally technological in nature. If we don't develop better energy sources that can seriously compete with fossil fuels, then we will continue using fossil fuels until they become scarce / expensive in an almost business as usual manner. And here we have to make another statement: today we don't have anything to compete head on with fossil fuels.  Yes, nuclear is good for producing electricity but the upfront costs are still high and, bar China, no other country has started a massive ramp up of this technology. Yes

Add Not Subtract

In the energy / climate discourse, it seems to me, many people tend to be "against" everything. Could we be more "for" and less "against?" Well, here is my list. I am for: Coal if it is the only option or if it is replacing biomass (dung or wood). Natural gas . Do we have today a better energy source that is constant / reliable / scaleable / affordable to replace coal? I don't think so. Also, these natural gas plants could probably eventually be converted to nuclear power.  Nuclear. What is not to like in nuclear? It is the lowest carbon energy in the reliable / dense camp. Well, yes, it is currently a little expensive and needs some PR work but still, it is very good. Hydro. If you have hydro, don't think twice. Just look at the carbon intensity of the electrical grids in Albania, Paraguay and Norway. All of them are below 10 grams per kWh! Oil. Nothing beats oil in transportation: cars, trucks, ships and particularly

Starved for CO2

This article is speculation, and yet, it is something to ponder about. During millions of years, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere had been dropping. Actually the drop had been quite dramatic between the late Jurassic (more than 2,000 ppm) to recent times (less than 400 ppm). This is no fine tuning, the difference is in the range of five to one. Important reserves of carbon in the form of ancient life remains had been trapped "forever" inside the Earth. These reserves were in the form of coal, oil and natural gas. No natural mechanism could pump back to the atmosphere those "forever" sequestered amounts of carbon. No natural mechanism...  but could the Earth naturally create unnatural occurrences to return to the biosphere that long lost carbon or, would the Earth itself slowly starve due to insufficient CO2 in the atmosphere? It was inconceivable for any plant or animal species of the time to actually extract billions of tons of ca