Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If we were serious about cooling the globe(1)

Putting myself in a position of someone who really cared if we could reverse global warming as soon as possible(2), I would note that because there are a lot of positive feedbacks in the system, and that the momentum is what is important for positive feedbacks (3), actions that have good short term results are more urgent than those with long term results. Residence times for CH4 are approximated to 10 years, while those for CO2 are 100 years. CO2 captured or gathered from the atmosphere is valueless, is complicated to sequester and per volume has much less carbon credit. CH4 is a useful and valuable fuel, is easy to dispose of and is much more potent warmer per volume. Branson's prize might be very easily won by capturing ambient CH4 equivalent to the required CO2 capture.

The conclusion is obvious - It would be very effective if CH4 was treated like CFC's. ie completely separate target than CO2. Tight emmission standards and it being treated like a serious pollutant could dramatically reduce it, in a relatively short timeframe. Targets, as well as reflecting what kind of world we want in the future, should reflect what is reasonably possible. Our addiction to CO2 emmissions will take excruciatingly high Carbon taxes to reduce substantially (even though the net cost to society will be negligible - see Tobacco taxes). Even though best estimates by the latest climate models show that anthropogenic CH4 has only contributed a fraction to the net warming power, it is conceivable that we could reduce emmissions form both anthropogenic and natural sources, so the cooling power of capture may be much greater than the warming fraction these climate scientists are promoting.

(1) It would pay to reiterate that I believe that if the consequences of global warming are very severe, this is a fair punishment for our collective sins and we should take it on the chin.

(2) An alternative theory is that climatologists would prefer a "perfect storm" of warming first - to prove their point and to convert the masses from the fear factor.

(3) One point that climatologists fail to make is that a same positive feedback causing accelerated warming on a warming trend, will actually help cool quicker on a cooling trend.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

If something isn't worth doing, it isn't worth discussing the most efficient means of doing it: far better to let people go on their merry way doing it in the most inefficient and ham-fisted manner possible. The more inconvenience and cost they suffer for no reward, the sooner they will give up! :P

Marco said...

If the most efficient way means that it costs me nothing, and the ham-fisted manner means wasted taxpayer money (ie. some of my money) than it is worth discussing. Besides, I don't want to be left out of a very interesting argument (what is best to do?) just because one of my answers is "nothing sounds perfectly acceptable to me!"

Dr. Clam said...

Of course, if we were really serious about cooling the globe, we could always go with the nuclear winter option.

Anonymous said...

Or, we could use nuclear explosives to blow holes in the Earth's crust to make new volcanoes. The dust from these could cool the Earth, and they would be handy new sources of clean green renewable energy...

Anonymous said...

Or, we could always herding everything we want to keep into giant air-conditioned pleasuredomes and burn what's left over for fuel.

Marco said...

Yes, all good ideas, but those pesky environmental ideologues would probably frown on anything other than "stop some of what we're doing" rather than "let's do something new and exciting!"

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's me, Dr Clam, pretending to be a whole gang of technophile commentators! :D I gotta go read your lightbulb thing now.

Jenny said...

I'm going to pretend this is a relevant comment for this blog entry....

A guy at work said he wants a tshirt that says

Radioactivity Promotes Biodiversity
(with a picture of a mutated animal underneath eg 3 eyed fish)

I suggested he head in your direction.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand! Why using so much chemistry, thinking about pros and cons, when the "smart guys" already found this solution?

It has already been tested and worked before. And I see I am not the only one suggesting this way!

Marco said...

Nuclear winter, man-made volcanoes, sealed pleasuredomes, new naval wars... Any of these work, but are a real tough political sell.