CO2 in the Earth's Atmosphere. What have we done about it?

I made this huge giant meme for you. Click on it to see it in your browser all by itself, might be easier to read:


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Locals are often an obstacle to nuke plant construction - best to avoid 'em. ;)

By Buck Field (not verified) on 07 Apr 2014 #permalink

This might be more clear with an IPCC divider at a point corresponding to 25 years of something clear on the graph. Differing arrows (or perhaps brackets?) to emphasize durations, and wording to emphasize worsening concentration of the 3rd arrow's captions wouldn't hurt.

By Buck Field (not verified) on 07 Apr 2014 #permalink

Buck: The idea is that everyone is already used to the damn thing being there, and the new model promises to be safer even if it just because it is newer. Plus promises will be made.

Notice, though, it is low on the list. First you do all this other stuff then take account.

Good idea about the durations. This is actually mockup for a moving picture version which will probably do something like that.

1976 UN Ozone report to treateies in 1985 and 1986, peak in 1994, and Effective Equivalent Chlorine has been on the decline:

1920s-1970s, research on leaded gasoline toxicity, 1972 USEPA stats phaseout of lead in gasoline, 2011 UN announces TEL pretty much phased out.

I like CFCs/Ozone and TEL as examples--Humans can put trace chemicals into the air that have an large-scale effect, we can do science on them, we can respond with responsible policy decisions at the national and international levels, and we can make improvements.

What's so different about CO2?

As part of my work I go into attics, more often than not, on hot afternoons. I pretty much know how food feels under a broiler. Air temperatures north of 150F and you can feel the heat radiating down.

I see there are people advocating building roofs over parking lots and mounting solar panels on them. Sounds good. But you know where it might be even better? How about on top of all those buildings. You can get double your return for less investment. Put the panels on the roof and you get electricity, you also shade the roof, a roof over a space that is being air conditioned, and you don't have to build the roof, and seeing as that commercial roofs are north of 25' tall there is less chance the panels will be shaded by trees or other obstructions.

Instead of grandiose plans solar needs to pluck the low hanging fruit. Shading commercial buildings makes sense even without the electricity produced. Cover every commercial building will take years and millions of solar panels. Which means you create an established business and push high volumes of panels through the system. All of which drops the price.

Too much money, time, and even more importantly, enthusiasm was spent building poorly thought out solar power systems.

The local hospital had a solar hot water system set up in the early 80s and it ran for a less than a year before they ran into problems with rainwater leaks, clouding of the panels, and dirty heat exchangers. Even subsidized with tax credits the system never broke even. The system was shut down for over five years and it was junked in the last renovation.

A nearby airport installed both solar hot water and a photoelectric array. The hot water system suffered degradation because there was no system established for maintenance. When it froze in a particularly cold winter the collectors failed. Leaks, and subsequent freezing, closed a good part of the terminal. The solar-electric system was set up with batteries that were not maintained because they gave the job to the janitor figuring it was like a car battery. So the batteries sulphated and failed. When they tried to plug the solar power into the grid to eliminate the need for batteries the POCO objected, refused at first, but then allowed it only after a good part was rewired. this was before they had to let you hook up. The end result was so much loss in the back feed that when the rewiring was priced in they never saw any payback. Even after the tax credit. I haven't been out there in a few years but I understand the entire solar setup was scrapped in the last renovation. Another kick in the teeth for solar power.

We need to get real. We need engineering and real-world return on investment calculations. Fashionable forward thinking got us nowhere. We need to forget the big plans, for now, and concentrate on the low hanging fruit. Both shading the building and generating power in one construct is something we can do now. And it should be done before we start roofing over parking lots or pastureland.

It's not going to happen, you realise that?

What IS going to happen, we're going to keep burning fossil fuels (of which, thanks to modern drilling technology, we have enough to last centuries) until we find a replacement that is genuinely as cheap, reliable and efficient, probably some sort of nuclear, thorium and fast breeder in the short term, eventually fusion.

Key words are "base load" and "dispatchable", neither of which apply to any of today's so-called "reneawbles".

Oh, I forgot "adaption", because that's where it's at now folks, you can bet on it.

By catweazle666 (not verified) on 07 Apr 2014 #permalink

Citigroup is hot on renewables and sees wind and solar as cost competitive with gas. Nuclear and coal can no longer pay:
“In a major new analysis released this week, Citi says the big decision makers within the US power industry are focused on securing low cost power, fuel diversity and stable cash flows, and this is drawing them increasingly to the “economics” of solar and wind, and how they compare with other technologies.
Much of the mainstream media – in the US and abroad – has been swallowing the fossil fuel Kool-Aid and hailing the arrival of cheap gas, through the fracking boom, as a new energy “revolution”, as if this would be a permanent state of affairs. But as we wrote last week, solar costs continue to fall even as gas prices double.
Citi’s report echoes that conclusion. Gas prices, it notes, are rising and becoming more volatile. This has made wind and solar and other renewable energy sources more attractive because they are not sensitive to fuel price volatility.
Citi says solar is already becoming more attractive than gas-fired peaking plants, both from a cost and fuel diversity perspective. And in baseload generation, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydro are becoming more economically attractive than baseload gas.
It notes that nuclear and coal are structurally disadvantaged because both technologies are viewed as uncompetitive on cost. Environmental regulations are making coal even pricier, and the ageing nuclear fleet in the US is facing plant shutdowns due to the challenging economics.
“We predict that solar, wind, and biomass to continue to gain market share from coal and nuclear into the future,” the Citi analysts write...
On baseload, all renewables except marine beat coal and nuclear. Combined cycle gas just hangs on.
As for peaking plant, it depends on the gas prices, but these are rising and in some regions it is now back above its pre-GFC and fracking boom levels. The move to export LNG will likely cause a further increase in prices.”
Again, the reason financial institutions have lost interest in nuclear is not because it's unsafe, but because it's uneconomic. Also, to the extent that nuclear power plants depend on water for cooling, climate change presents threats in the forms of droughts, flooding, and higher water temperatures.
To my mind, putting solar panels wherever one can doesn't make sense. One should always evaluate the available resources and, to the extent possible, the EROI. Costs are, of course, also a factor.
A system that combines wind and solar can provide pretty reliable power. Intermittency is not a big problem and a spread out wind system can provide baseload power. With the addition of biogas or geothermal, all problems should be solved.…

Denmark is working on eliminating fossil fuels. In December more than 50% of our electricity was produced by wind. In January the figure was more than 60%. In 2013, a bad wind year, 33%.
Iowa now gets approximately 27% of its electricity from wind, and a number of other Republican lead states, including Texas, also recognize wind's advantages.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 08 Apr 2014 #permalink

Republican led states.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 08 Apr 2014 #permalink