Home » Posts tagged 'carbon dioxide'

Tag Archives: carbon dioxide

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Anti-Global Warming PR

Anti-Global Warming PR

Biomass plant along the Columbia River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Propaganda may very well have been invented by the Catholic Church in the year 1622. Yet it was transported into modernity by a man known as Poison Ivy and, more importantly, by Edward Bernays, who once said, The significant revolution of modern times is not industrial or economic or political but the revolution which is taking place in the art of creating consent among the governed.

Just as the Catholic Church tried to prevent stepping into modernity by fighting the Reformation, Poison Ivy fought modernity by combatting those who disliked capital. He fought an ideological public relations battle for Rockefeller but also advised Adolf Hitler.

Not only after the unsavoury beginnings of public relations, the true mastermind of PR, Bernays, had even bigger goals. With his help, propaganda became the art of creating consent among the governed. German philosopher Adorno called this the process of mass deception. Decades later, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky named virtually the same thing:manufacturing consent.

A piece of gigantic machinery had been set in motion to create mass consent in support of corporate capitalism. Today a large section of capitalism’s public relations machinery is fighting a new battle – the battle to preserve the profits of mineral extracting corporations and fossil fuel giants. This, of course, means fighting the awareness that global warming is killing our planet. Anti-global-warming PR seeks to fight knowledge like this:

There is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which humankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels… There are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap

Sometimes realisation comes in a blinding flash. Blurred outlines snap into shape and suddenly it all makes sense. Underneath such revelations is typically a much slower-dawning process. Doubts at the back of the mind grow. The sense of confusion that things cannot be made to fit together increases until something clicks. Or perhaps snaps.

Collectively we three authors of this article must have spent more than 80 years thinking about climate change. Why has it taken us so long to speak out about the obvious dangers of the concept of net zero? In our defence, the premise of net zero is deceptively simple – and we admit that it deceived us.

The threats of climate change are the direct result of there being too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So it follows that we must stop emitting more and even remove some of it. This idea is central to the world’s current plan to avoid catastrophe. In fact, there are many suggestions as to how to actually do this, from mass tree planting, to high tech direct air capture devices that suck out carbon dioxide from the air.

The current consensus is that if we deploy these and other so-called “carbon dioxide removal” techniques at the same time as reducing our burning of fossil fuels, we can more rapidly halt global warming. Hopefully around the middle of this century we will achieve “net zero”. This is the point at which any residual emissions of greenhouse gases are balanced by technologies removing them from the atmosphere.

Climeworks factory with tractor in foreground.
A facility for capturing carbon dioxide from air on the roof of a waste incinerating plant in Hinwil, Switzerland July 18, 2017. This is one of the handful of demonstrator projects currently in operation. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Concrete: Our Future Is Anchored in the Stuff

Concrete: Our Future Is Anchored in the Stuff

The modern world is made of a wondrous, terrible product of human ingenuity. A new book tells the story.

Concrete: From Ancient Origins to a Problematic Future

University of Regina Press (2020)

When something is everywhere, we stop seeing it: air, tap water, electricity. And concrete.

Concrete is everywhere, but many of us still call it “cement,” which is just one of concrete’s components. We take it for granted, unless we’re using it in some DIY project and it sets too soon. Using it right is almost as much art as science: Roman concrete still survives in places, but the concrete in the Samuel de Champlain Bridge disintegrated in a matter of years.

In this very readable book, Mary Soderstrom takes us from the chemistry of concrete though its long history as a kind of artificial stone to its present status as a fatal necessity — a building material urgently needed to protect us against the climate change it helps to cause.

Soderstrom’s narrative returns often to the new McInnis Cement plant on the Gaspé coast in eastern Quebec. It’s one of the latest producers in an industry that’s thousands of years old; it has an extensive market and bills itself as “ecologically sound.” But it also needs heavy government support, and inevitably contributes to the carbon dioxide emissions driving climate change.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate explained: why carbon dioxide has such outsized influence on Earth’s climate

I heard that carbon dioxide makes up 0.04% of the world’s atmosphere. Not 0.4% or 4%, but 0.04%! How can it be so important in global warming if it’s such a small percentage?

I am often asked how carbon dioxide can have an important effect on global climate when its concentration is so small – just 0.041% of Earth’s atmosphere. And human activities are responsible for just 32% of that amount.

I study the importance of atmospheric gases for air pollution and climate change. The key to carbon dioxide’s strong influence on climate is its ability to absorb heat emitted from our planet’s surface, keeping it from escaping out to space.

The ‘Keeling Curve,’ named for scientist Charles David Keeling, tracks the accumulation of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, measured in parts per million. Scripps Institution of OceanographyCC BY

Early greenhouse science

The scientists who first identified carbon dioxide’s importance for climate in the 1850s were also surprised by its influence. Working separately, John Tyndall in England and Eunice Foote in the United States found that carbon dioxide, water vapor and methane all absorbed heat, while more abundant gases did not.

Scientists had already calculated that the Earth was about 59 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) warmer than it should be, given the amount of sunlight reaching its surface. The best explanation for that discrepancy was that the atmosphere retained heat to warm the planet.

Tyndall and Foote showed that nitrogen and oxygen, which together account for 99% of the atmosphere, had essentially no influence on Earth’s temperature because they did not absorb heat. Rather, they found that gases present in much smaller concentrations were entirely responsible for maintaining temperatures that made the Earth habitable, by trapping heat to create a natural greenhouse effect.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Possible Future Trends of CO2 Concentration and Global Temperature

Possible Future Trends of CO2 Concentration and Global Temperature

Wildfire smoke and power line, northern California. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Carbon dioxide gas (CO2) has been accumulating in the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution (~1750), because increasingly voluminous fluxes of that gas have been exhausted from the lands and the oceans, and are beyond the capacity of natural CO2 sinks to absorb completely.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, carbon would cycle through a variety of processes that sustained the continuation of life, death, evolution and rebirth, and that all meshed into one grand balance. That balance is called the Carbon Cycle.

The explosive growth of human activity, numbers, exosomatic power, economic wealth, military overkill, and hubristic political pretensions, all spring from the access to and profligate use of heat-energy liberated from fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is the exhaust fume from our Promethean exertions for greater conquests — and wealth.

The carbon dioxide exhausted by our civilization’s generation of heat-energy, and from our massive exploitation of once virgin land areas, is an increasingly destabilizing perturbation of the Carbon Cycle. This perturbation is called Anthropogenic Emissions.

The imbalance of the Carbon Cycle reverberates through the natural world in many ways that are increasingly harmful and dangerous to Planet Earth’s habitability for ourselves and for many other animal and plant species. The central reality of this complex of growing threats to the viability of the Biosphere is called Global Warming.

Carbon dioxide gas traps heat radiated towards space, as infrared radiation from the surface of Planet Earth, reducing our planet’s ability to regulate its temperature by cooling to compensate for the influx of solar light that is absorbed by the lands and the oceans, and stored by them as heat.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Green Energy Delusion – We Can Never Get to Zero CO2

Green Energy Delusion – We Can Never Get to Zero CO2

This interesting documentary exposes the falsehood about green energy and the outright lies we are told that somehow this will save the planet. They call it BioMass energy which is cutting down forests and burning trees that consume CO2. The carbon dioxide released when burning wood (about 1900g CO2 for each 1000g of wood burnt) they then claim is balanced by the fact that this carbon was taken up by the tree from the air when it grew. So this part of the emissions is carbon-neutral. What they are saying is that they are releasing the CO2 the trees took out of the system rather than adding to the present level.

Coal is an important source of energy in the United States, and the nation’s reliance on this fossil fuel for generating electricity is growing. The combustion of coal, however, adds a significant amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere per unit of heat energy, more so than the combustion of other fossil fuels. Coal is formed when dead plant matter decays into peat and is converted into coal by the heat and pressure after being deeply buried over millions of years. In other words, coal is also carbon-neutral under this same BioMass theory that coal represents plants that simply consume CO2, and it is not being released back into the atmosphere. Burning coal does not create CO2, it is also just releasing it as they burn trees.

Destroying forests to burn trees under the claim that BioMass energy is renewable because they can just grow more trees is pretty absurd. The only REAL energy that does not produce direct Co2 is nuclear. Nuclear power reactors do not produce direct carbon dioxide emissions. Unlike fossil fuel-fired power plants, nuclear reactors do not produce air pollution or carbon dioxide while operating.

Can Europe’s Largest Economy Survive Without Coal?

Can Europe’s Largest Economy Survive Without Coal?

Germany Coal

One of the greatest moral dilemmas that has been creeping into the everyday activities of specialists working with coal, oil and in some cases even gas (despite its being perceived a natural bridge to a low-carbon future) could be phrased in the following way: how do you stop producing fossil fuels when you still have cheap ample reserves? In this context coal stands out – its relative inferiority in terms of environmental pollution prompted governments in developed economies to ban its future usage. Yet whenever its production is not curtailed by government-mandated cuts, producers simply continue to extract as much coal as possible. Straight in the middle of the so-called European approach to coal lies Germany, an erstwhile bulwark of the coal industry. Can it eventually survive without coal?

In stark contrast to oil and gas – of which Germany has traditionally been a major net importer and in both cases looking back to a more than 50-year history of depending on primarily Russian hydrocarbon riches – Europe’s leading economy has substantial reserves of coal, lignite in particular. In fact, Germany remains the world’s largest producer of lignite and burns most of it for power generation, accounting for some 22 percent of the nation’s gross electricity output. Ironically, lignite production is more COintensive than hard coal as it is done by extracting coal from open-cast pits, nevertheless, its mid-term future looks a lot better than that of hard coal mining in Germany.

Whilst lignite remains economically competitive, Germany’s hard coal production went downhill after the government ended its subsidy schemes. The last hard coal mine closed its gates in December 2018, ending a 200-year history of the Ruhr Region and potentially starting a new development phase of Westphalia, a geographical phenomenon inextricably intertwined with coal. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Green Myths Canada’s LNG Sales Force Tells the World

Green Myths Canada’s LNG Sales Force Tells the World

No, methane’s no fix for global coal-fired energy. Here’s why.

Trudeau-Horgan-Handshake-Cover.jpg
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan shake hands as LNG Canada CEO Andy Calitz, back right, watches during a news conference in October 2018. Photo by Darryl Dyck, the Canadian Press. 

Representatives of the British Columbia, Alberta and federal governments are making the global rounds these days to sell the notion that liquefied natural gas exports can help the climate crisis.

Dave Nikolejsin, deputy minister of the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, for example, flew to Japan last September along with members of the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources.

There they tried to impress upon the Japanese attendees “the role of Canadian LNG in meeting global climate policy objectives and reducing emissions of carbon dioxide.” 

The pitch goes like this: According to LNG Canada, the big Shell project now under construction in northern B.C., could replace 20 to 40 coal-fired plants in countries like China and India with Canadian methane, and reduce their emissions by 60 to 90 million tonnes.

That’s impressive, says LNG Canada, because 90 million tons equals about 80 per cent of Canada’s car pollution. Or all of B.C.’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

In fact, Darren Gee, president and CEO of Peyto Exploration, which fracks for gas in B.C., believes Canada has a “moral obligation to provide the rest of the world with the country’s clean, responsibly-developed energy to improve lives and preserve the environment.”

And so, while the blockaders of northern B.C.’s LNG Canada pipeline await police eviction while claiming to stand up for Indigenous sovereignty and climate protection, backers of the project lay claim to their own moral high ground.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Questions as big as the atmosphere

Questions as big as the atmosphere

A review of After Geoengineering

After Geoengineering is published by Verso Books, Oct 1 2019.

What is the best-case scenario for solar geoengineering? For author Holly Jean Buck and the scientists she interviews, the best-case scenario is that we manage to keep global warming below catastrophic levels, and the idea of geoengineering quietly fades away.

But before that can happen, Buck explains, we will need heroic global efforts both to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and to remove much of the excess carbon we have already loosed into the skies.

She devotes most of her new book After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair, and Restoration to proposed methods for drawing down carbon dioxide levels from the atmosphere. Only after showing the immense difficulties in the multi-generational task of carbon drawdown does she directly discuss techniques and implications of solar geoengineering (defined here as an intentional modification of the upper atmosphere, meant to block a small percentage of sunlight from reaching the earth, thereby counteracting part of global heating).

The book is well-researched, eminently readable, and just as thought-provoking on a second reading as on the first. Unfortunately there is little examination of the way future energy supply constraints will affect either carbon drawdown or solar engineering efforts. That significant qualification aside, After Geoengineering is a superb effort to grapple with some of the biggest questions for our collective future.

Overshoot

The fossil fuel frenzy in the world’s richest countries has already put us in greenhouse gas overshoot, so some degree of global heating will continue even if, miraculously, there were an instant political and economic revolution which ended all carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow. Can we limit the resulting global heating to 1.5°C? At this late date our chances aren’t good.

As Greta Thunberg explained in her crystal clear fashion to the United Nations Climate Action Summit:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A globalised solar-powered future is wholly unrealistic – and our economy is the reason why

A globalised solar-powered future is wholly unrealistic – and our economy is the reason why

Over the past two centuries, millions of dedicated people – revolutionaries, activists, politicians, and theorists – have been unable to curb the disastrous and increasingly globalised trajectory of economic polarisation and ecological degradation. This is perhaps because we are utterly trapped in flawed ways of thinking about technology and economy – as the current discourse on climate change shows.

Rising greenhouse gas emissions are not just generating climate change. They are giving more and more of us climate anxiety. Doomsday scenarios are capturing the headlines at an accelerating rate. Scientists from all over the world tell us that emissions in ten years must be half of what they were ten years ago, or we face apocalypse. School children like Greta Thunberg and activist movements like Extinction Rebellion are demanding that we panic. And rightly so. But what should we do to avoid disaster?

Most scientists, politicians, and business leaders tend to put their hope in technological progress. Regardless of ideology, there is a widespread expectation that new technologies will replace fossil fuels by harnessing renewable energy such as solar and wind. Many also trust that there will be technologies for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and for “geoengineering” the Earth’s climate. The common denominator in these visions is the faith that we can save modern civilisation if we shift to new technologies. But “technology” is not a magic wand. It requires a lot of money, which means claims on labour and resources from other areas. We tend to forget this crucial fact.

I would argue that the way we take conventional “all-purpose” money for granted is the main reason why we have not understood how advanced technologies are dependent on the appropriation of labour and resources from elsewhere.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Top Scientist Says He Quit USDA Because Trump Admin Tried to Bury His Study on Climate and Nutrition

Top Scientist Says He Quit USDA Because Trump Admin Tried to Bury His Study on Climate and Nutrition

Rep. Chellie Pingree tweeted, “Once again, the Trump admin is silencing our scientists.”

Lewis Ziska

Plant physiologist Lewis Ziska quit the U.S. Department of Agriculture Friday. (Photo: Peggy Greb/USDA Agricultural Research Service via sciencenewsforstudents.org)

The exodus of federal scientists in the era of President Donald Trump continued Friday as 62-year-old plant physiologist Lewis Ziska left the U.S. Department of Agriculture “over the Trump administration’s efforts to bury his groundbreaking study about how rice loses nutrients due to rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Politico reportedMonday.

“There was a sense that if the science agreed with the politics, then the policymakers would consider it to be ‘good science,’ and if it didn’t agree with the politics, then it was something that was flawed and needed to be done again.”
—Lewis Ziska, ex-USDA scientist

Ziska—who worked at USDA under five presidents, both Republicans and Democrats—charged in an interview with Politico that he left the department’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) because the USDA tried to block the public dissemination of his research on how the human-caused climate crisis’s impact on rice could threaten the nutrition of 600 million people. The studyPolitico reported, was internally cleared at the department and peer reviewed prior to its publication in the journal Science Advances last year.

USDA, in a statement to the outlet, said that “this was a joint decision by ARS national program leaders—all career scientists—not to send out a press release on this paper” based on scientific disagreement, and the decisions involving the study weren’t politically motivated.

Ziska, however, said that “this isn’t about the science. It’s about something else, but it’s not about the science.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Abandon All Hope: Moving Toward an Existentialist Environmentalism

Abandon All Hope: Moving Toward an Existentialist Environmentalism 

As the Earth’s ecological systems upon which we depend accelerate in their slouch towards Bethlehem, our society faces an existential crisis.  The effects of climate change are far direr than we initially expected.  Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen to 415 ppm for the first time in over three million years.  The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C describes that we face an increase in global average temperatures of 1.5 degrees C as soon as 2040. Furthermore, the two degrees of warming that scientists widely argue is the final major threshold before permanent, large-scale climatic shifts leading to ecological collapse, is no longer some far-off possibility or hyperbolic fear-mongering, but an imminent reality.  The future we face in this new Earth is marked ever more frequent and intense fire and flooding, famine and disease, droughts and storms.

Similarly, compounded by decreasing habitat availability from deforestation, overfishing, and resource overuse, climatic shifts are already being accompanied by staggering and consistent losses in biodiversity.  Published last month, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ Global Assessment Report concluded that the second-fastest mass extinction event in planetary history is underway; the current rate of extinction is 100 to 1000 times greater than historical background rates.  Over one million species are at risk of extinction within the next few decades.

As they perceive the horsemen beginning to saddle up their mounts, many of my friends and colleagues in the environmental community have succumbed to anxiety, if not despondency.  It is all too easy to become overwhelmed and unable to make a decision on how to proceed given the enormity of the problem and the lateness of the hour.  Indeed, given their scale, global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss have been called hyperobjects which humans cannot comprehend despite their pervasive effects that are and will be experienced by everyone in some way.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global Warming, Carbon Dioxide and the Solar Minimum

Global Warming, Carbon Dioxide and the Solar Minimum

Since Climate Change (CC) has been a constant of life on Gaia with the evolution of photosynthesis 3.2 billion years ago and has more complexities than this one essay can address; ergo, this article will explore co2’s historic contribution to global warming (GW) as well as explore the relationship of Solar Minimum(SM) to Earth’s climate.

Even before the UN-initiated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed in 1988, the common assumption was that carbon dioxide was thekey greenhouse gas and that its increases were the driving force solely responsible for rising climate temperatures.  

At that time, anthropogenic (human caused) GW was declared to be theexistential crisis of our time, that the science was settled and that we, as a civilization, were running out of time.

And yet, in the intervening years, uncertainty remained about GW’s real time impacts which may be rooted in the fact that many of IPCC’sessential climate forecasts of consequence have not materializedas predicted.  Even as the staid Economist magazine recently noted:

Over the past fifteen years, air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse gas emissions have continued to soar.” 

Before the IPCC formed, NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii registered co2 levelsat under 350 ppm (parts per million) with the explicit warning that if co2 exceeded that number, Mother Earth was in Big Trouble – and there would be no turning back for humanity.  Those alarm bells continue today as co2 levels have risen to 414 ppm as temperatures peaked in 1998.

From the outset, the IPCC controlled the debate by limiting its charter

to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Can Renewable Portfolio Standards make RE Work?

Can Renewable Portfolio Standards make RE Work?

Guest post by Geo who is a geologist working in Alaska

People want energy to be cleaner (i.e. emit less carbon dioxide). One way to do this is to use regulations to force either greater efficiency, or a switch to cleaner fuels.

A good example would be Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the United States. They were first enacted by the United States Congress in 1975, after the 1973–74 Arab Oil Embargo, to improve the average fuel economy of cars and light trucks (trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles) produced for sale in the United States. The idea was that slowly, across the board, the mileage of all cars and trucks produced in the U.S. would gradually increase. Over time this would result in cleaner air, and reduced oil usage. And perhaps save consumers money…

And it more or less worked as advertised. Standards were raised, and efficiency increased, largely without additional cost. U.S. cars are twice as fuel-efficient today as they were 40 years ago, saving car owners millions of dollars, and reducing air pollution. Arguably a win-win.

Figure 1: EPA “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2017,” EPA-420-S-18-001, January 2018.

A slight nuance was added in some markets. Certificates for high mileage vehicles could be traded, so that some manufacturers could continue producing low mileage vehicles. For example, under California’s Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Regulation and those of states that have adopted California’s standard, vehicle manufacturers are required to earn or purchase credits for compliance with their annual regulatory requirements. This means that a certain number of electric cars must be sold to balance any low mileage vehicles.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK climate emergency is official policy

UK climate emergency is official policy

Heathrow’s expansion is now in question. Image: By J Patrick Fischer, via Wikimedia Commons

Major changes in the government’s policy on fossil fuels will be vital to tackling the UK climate emergency that Parliament has recognised.

LONDON, 3 May, 2019 − The United Kingdom has taken a potentially momentous policy decision: it says there is a UK climate emergency.

On 1 May British members of Parliament (MPs) became the world’s first national legislature to declare a formal climate and environment emergency, saying they hoped they could work with like-minded countries across the world to take action to avoid more than 1.5°C of global warming.

No-one yet knows what will be the practical result of the resolution proposed by Jeremy Corbyn, the Opposition Labour leader, but UK politicians were under pressure to act following a series of high-profile strikes by school students in recent months and demonstrations by a new climate protest organisation, Extinction Rebellion (XR),  whose supporters closed roads in the centre of London for a week.

The Conservative government ordered its MPs not to oppose the Labour resolution, and it was passed without a vote.

Zero carbon by 2050

Hours after the MPs’ decision, a long-awaited detailed report by the government’s official advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, was published. It recommends cutting the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The current target is 80%.

The report says the government should accept the new target immediately, pass it into law in the next few months and begin to implement policies to achieve it. The committee says that will mean the end of petrol and diesel cars on British roads, a cut in meat consumption, an end to gas boilers for heating buildings, planting 1.5 billion trees to store carbon, a vast increase in renewable energy, and many other measures.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase