Climate Change – The Long View #3 (con’t)

Climate Change – The Long View (con’t)

What can be done to mitigate the issues?

There are actions that can be taken in all of the areas that will have positive results.

The answer to over fishing is simple. We will end up eating fewer fish in the short term which will preserve this resource for the future and assist in Carbon emission reduction. The implementation is much more difficult since it involves cooperation among the dozens of countries that contribute to the problem. Failure to adjust our approach amounts to a dual edged sword that will result if far fewer fish down the road and a continuing negative impact on climate change. There are also some fishing methods that produce fewer carbon emissions, but admittedly are more costly in the short term.

Industrialization is here to stay. The solution is one that benefits everyone. Implementing more “productive” methods of production (like robotics) means that less space is required. In addition, we need to incentivize repurposing old and abandoned sites rather that using new sites for industrial expansion.

Like Industrialization, increasing farm productivity (yield per acre) is key. Relative to livestock, we need to learn to be less dependent on animal protein and incentivize other sources that are less evasive.

Consumerism is like an addiction. We love to buy and are relatively easy to manipulate. Internet retail has only enhanced this problem. We tend to favor purchasing “cheap” items that have short lives rather than higher quality merchandise that have much longer lives and tend to reduce production required.

We are well aware how to reduce emissions from vehicles. Hybrid and Electric vehicles are moving forward and hopefully will continue to increase in popularity. While they cost about 20 – 25% more than comparable combustion engine vehicles, this cost is easily recovered over the life of the car in MPG efficiency. On the downside is the fact that 39 % of our utilities’ electricity is still produced via coal power plants. If you are recharging your electric vehicle using a coal powered source this this negates a large portion of the improvement in carbon emissions. There may also be promise with fuel cell technology that promises a near net zero emissions. There are still several issues with this technology, but solutions to these problems are being investigated.

Oil Drilling is still the largest source for securing this petroleum. Likely the best solution for this item is the reduction in demand. If enough of the primary users of oil (vehicles & power plants) can adopt alternative sources (like electricity for vehicles & wind, photo cells, nuclear and hydro for power plants) then there would not be a need for expanded oil drilling.

Power Plants are key to solving carbon emissions. Just under 50% of all carbon emissions are produced via coal powered plants. Vehicles, trains & aircraft account for another 29%.  There are proven methods that can reduce up to 90% of coal powered emissions, but little progress has been made regarding implementation. The short-term cost of producing coal-based electricity is low and the cost to implement CO2 reductions would put the cost generation to parity (or even more) than other methods. Additionally, some methods allow for the capture and reuse of the CO2 which can add back value and effectively reduce the cost of power.

Following is some detail on one of the projects that has been initiated:

In Texas, the Petra Nova project near Houston, a partnership of the US DOE, NRG Energy and JX Nippon, is set up to capture 1.4 million tons of CO2 per year (90%) from NRG’s WA Parish 240 MWe power plant and use it for enhanced oil recovery. In a post-combustion process the flue gas is cooled and the CO2 removed by amine scrubbing. The CO2 is released from the solvent with low-pressure steam. The Petra Nova Parish plant started up late in 2016 on time and on budget, and is the largest post-combustion carbon capture project installed on an existing coal-fueled power plant.

By April 2017 it had delivered 300,000 tons of CO2 through a 30 km pipeline to the West Ranch oilfield to increase oil production from 300 to 15,000 barrels per day. The system captures more than 90% of carbon emissions from a 240 MW equivalent stream of flue gas, and is rated at 4776 tons of CO2 captured daily, effectively 1.4 million tons per year. The plant is reported to cover costs through the economic benefit of enhanced oil recovery. Due to the low oil price, carbon capture paused in March 2020 but NRG planned to restart it when economic conditions permit.

For a comprehensive view on this topic please refer to the link following:

Waste is a very difficult issue. While much has been made of recycling little progress has been made. In my opinion the largest factor has to do with Consumerism that was dealt with earlier. One example is the sale of expensive water in plastic bottles that was non-existent 40 years ago. Using refillable water bottles is the simple solution. Are we just too lazy to comply?

We have known about the issues with deforestation for many decades. While efforts have been made to make this resource sustainable it has not been possible to prevent our encroachment on new forested areas. I contribute over population of the planet as a significant facilitator. More people mean more demand for wood products. Consumerism further exacerbates the issue. Regarding population the number that has been estimated that our planet can sustain ranges from 3.5 to 5 billion. We currently accommodate about 7.5 billion persons and the forecast (based on current trends) is that we will level out in the 10 billion range by the end of this century. In the long run we will likely need an effective epidemic to solve this problem.

Our dependence on oil and gas are legendary. Both are limited, non-renewable, resources. Even the most optimistic forecasts predict that we will run out of both by the end of the century. How will we possibly be able function in the next century? Of course, there are more expensive and less invasive solutions to our energy requirements. But considering the damage to the environment (and that longer-term cost) does it make sense to wait until we have no oil-based option? Would it make more sense to accelerate, and incentivize, the transition to the new, inevitable paradigm?