Science News

A breath of fresh air in climate change debate

Sun, 12th Sep 2010

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show What Happens to a Tankful of Fish in Orbit?

A new model of future greenhouse gas emissions suggests that it's not too late to reverse predicted climate change trends. In fact, the new study shows that the main greenhouse gas threats to Earth's future climate have yet to be built.

Writing in Science, Carnegie Institution-based researcher Steven Davis and his colleagues mathematically "froze" the Earth in its present state of emissions and asked what would happen if all of the present grenhouse gas sources on the planet were allowed to continue emitting for their working lifetime, but without any new CO2-sources being added. In other words, is there already sufficient climate-change inertia with the greenhouse-gas-producing infrastructure we already have to mean that it's too late to make a difference? earthSurprisingly, the answer that emerged from the analysis was no; in fact, the study shows that it's what we build next that matters most to the future of the planet. Reassuringly, the team found that our present CO2-producing capacity, in its working lifetime of up to about 40 years, would see the CO2 level stabilise at about 430 parts per million (ppm), some way short of the 450ppm viewed by many scientists as the point of no return.

But we cannot afford to be complacent, caution the researchers. According to co-author Ken Caldeira, "because most of the threat from climate change will come from energy infrastructure we have yet to build, it is critically important that we build the right stuff now - that is, low carbon energy technologies."

References

Multimedia

Subscribe Free

Related Content

Comments

Make a comment

430 ppm as acceptable?

Now, why doesn't that surprise me?
A little like feeding on what you got, No way to be picky.
Sh* the free market will 'fix it'.
With the help of our enlightened and benevolent politicians of course, in close cooperation :)

But the permafrost in Siberia is disappearing, destroying infrastructure and pipelines.
In India and China the glaciers are melting away, killing the rivers feed of water, able to destroy the crops for billions of people in a near future. Remember the flooding in Pakistan? That's nothing.

Wanna play a little?

Here's Chalmers climate calculator. It's based on  calculations made at IIASA institute in Austria.

The scenario used, called A2r, you can reach via the GGI Scenario Database in Austria where you also can see what sort of bases for emissions and energy sources they used, in a user-friendly data base. Why emissions may seem higher is that they expect the use of coal to grow. Natural gas (methane) and oil will probably peak somewhere in the nearest decades, but when it comes to coal they expect the consumption to grow. And so do I, what steers the consumption is the resources and I expect there to be enough coal for this century at least, not to forget that China, USA and India are great coal consumers. And the consumption will grow

"The Chinese rely on coal for about two-thirds of their total energy production. And with relatively abundant reserves of coal, and relatively scarce reserves of other fossil fuels, as China increases energy production, coal will remain their main source of energy. This is the reality of energy development in China. According to the US DOE’s Energy Information Administration, over the next 20 years or so, the amount of energy produced in China from coal is going to double, from about 50 quadrillion BTUs (“quads”) of energy in 2007 to 95 quads by 2030. It is a certainty that China can achieve this level of coal production "

"Coal makes up 70 percent of China's total primary energy consumption, and China is both the largest consumer and producer of coal in the world. China holds an estimated 114.5 billion short tons of recoverable coal reserves, the third-largest in the world behind the United States and Russia and about 13 percent of the world’s total reserves. There are 27 provinces in China that produce coal. Northern China, especially Shanxi Province, contains most of China's easily accessible coal and virtually all of the large state-owned mines. Coal from southern mines tends to be higher in sulfur and ash, and therefore unsuitable for many applications. In 2008, China consumed an estimated 3 billion short tons of coal, representing nearly 40 percent of the world total and a 129 percent increase since 2000." coal.

And when it comes to India?

"India is the third largest producer of coal in the world. Coal is one of the primary sources of energy, accounting for about 67% of the total energy consumption in the country. India has the fourth largest reserves of coal in the world (approx. 197 billion tonnes.). With the present rate of around 0.8 million tons average daily coal extraction in the country, the reserves are likely to last over a 100 years. India's coal demand is expected to increase manifold within the next 5 to 10 years due to the completion of ongoing coal-based power projects, and demand from metallurgical and other industries."

From 27 November 2006, Forbes magazine.
Recoverable Coal Reserves_: China 126,214.7 million short tons.. India 101,903.2 million short tons.
Coal Production__________: China 2,156.4 million short tons..   India 403.1 million short tons
Coal Consumption________: China 2,062.4 million short tons     India 430.6 million short tons

About Pakistan's Thar coal in the Sindh province 


COAL CONSUMPTION IN CHINA BY SECTOR 2004, 2015, and 2030 from Chinas coal.

"The United States is the largest energy consumer in terms of total use, using 100 quadrillion BTUs (105 exajoules, or 29 PWh) in 2005. This is three times the consumption by the United States in 1950. The U.S. ranks seventh in energy consumption per-capita after Canada and a number of small countries. The majority of this energy is derived from fossil fuels: in 2005, it was estimated that 40% of the nation's energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 23% from natural gas. Nuclear power supplied 8.4% and renewable energy supplied 7.3%"

Then there is Japan, Russia and South Africa, big coal consumers too. Poland have the largest unexplored coalfields in the EU " "a recent find at a Polish site, near the city of Legnica in the country’s south-west, is much more than that, it is a huge technological challenge that could create massive economical opportunities for the nation."We are the EU’s most energy-secure country, owing mostly to vast reserves of black and brown coal," Strzelec-Lobodzinska says. "Initiating an optimal exploitation of these resources is crucial for Poland’s economy and energy security. .. Holding about 40 billion tons of untapped coal deposits, 15 billion tons of which are suitable for mining at a depth of 200m, the deposit could hold 8% of the world’s resources. And for Poland, where the 60 million tons of brown coal extracted a year cover 34% of national energy requirements, it could not only satisfy the country’s power needs but also provide a boost for its mining industry. "

Play with it.

And some statistics.

pollution (CO2) statistics today (from 2009.)
(G77 consists of 130 developing countries.)



China    6 103 metric tons spread per 1339 ..million inhabitants
USA      5 752 metric tons spread per 307 ….million inhabitants
G77      4 569 metric tons  spread per 2464 ..million inhabitants
EEC      3 914 metric tons  spread per 492 …million inhabitants
India    1 510 metric tons spread per 1166 ..million inhabitants
Canada     545 metric tons spread per 34 …..million inhabitants.
Mexico       436 metric tons spread per 111 ..million inhabitants
Brazil         436 metric tons spread per 199 ...million inhabitants
Australia    372 metric tons spread per 21 ..million inhabitants
Japan        127 metric tons spread per 127 ….million inhabitants


Okay, but who consumed the highest percentage fossil fuels/year then? (CO2)

China     93 %
India     92 %
Mexico    92 %
USA       85 %
Australia 82%
Japan     82 %
Canada   66%
Brazil    60 %
EEC       58 %

(and South Africa of course, a 95% coal driven economy.) yor_on, Sun, 26th Sep 2010

We will use what we got right :)

That is the new methane (gas) fields in Eastern Europe, Australia, the deep drilling fields of oil in our oceans and what coal reserves we have left. And as the energy prices goes up we will open more fields. As for how long they will contain the energy needs? How about the Arctic? Soon to become ice free :) And considering the CO2 model. It doesn't, as far as I understand, take in consideration the accelerating methane releases we see in the Arctic and tundra. It all depends on if the climate system have a 'tipping point', and where it is? I'm pretty sure it has, the Earth is a non-linear system.

So how about nuclear energy?

Be honest with me. If I told you. Sure, we'll build it, under one condition. We'll have the waste facility where you live, would that sit alright with you? The half life for Plutonium-239 24,000 years, and that's just a 50% reduction of its lethality. Think London and New York will be standing in 24 000 years? Well, maybe we'll solve the problem, although, we haven't done it yet, not even found one suitable place for containing nuclear wastes, not even in Sweden, and we have some of the oldest, most stable rock formations in the world.

So what do we need to do?

We need to start building all types of renewable energy facilities we can come up with. And I for one would prefer if they were owned by the community's building them, not private owners. Doesn't mean one shouldn't have the right to build whatever one wanted on ones farm etc. Just that the tax-money should be used for the community, not subsidizing those that already have the money to build.

We also need to set a limit for how many kids we can have. What once was the safety net, and still is in many developing countries, having a lot of kids, preferably sons that could support one under ones old age isn't a credible solution any more. What's wrong with each pair being allowed two kids for some generations to come? One kid would be even better of course :) I know it might drive some people up the walls, but I doubt Gods idea was that we should eat us out of our house, to die starving?

Then we might come back to an sustainable Earth.

So? yor_on, Mon, 27th Sep 2010

See the whole discussion | Make a comment

Not working please enable javascript
EPSRC
Powered by UKfast
STFC
Genetics Society
ipDTL