JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Cut carbon emissions by 50%? — Greens nightmare — Coal gasification may be the answer

A new MIT report suggests a better way to use coal in power-stations and potentially cut CO2 emissions by 50%. The process involves gasifying coal and producing electricity in one process at the same site. The coal only has to be heated once,  and the electricity comes from a fuel cell, not a fire — it’s a chemical reaction across a membrane.  The output is potentially much more efficient, and makes no ash. The researchers argue we could get twice as much electricity for each ton of coal burned. Currently coal fired power pulls out 30% of the chemical energy in coal, but coupling these two processes might increase it to 55-60%.

This report is based on simulations, but the separate processes are already well developed and running. The next step would be a fully functioning pilot plant to put the two together and test the idea. If there was the political will it could be done in a few years. There probably won’t be.

The Greens of course will hate the idea because the Evil-Factor of coal is near 100%.

In the eco-collectivist-world, cutting “carbon” is important, but apparently not as important as propping up a dependent lobby group [...]

CO2 emissions? It’s China China China all the way down…

No matter which way we slice and dice it, China is The-CO2-Player that matters. India is forecast for a larger percentage-wise increase, but it’s starting from a small base. By 2030 even after doubling its output, it will still be barely a quarter of China’s total mega-ton production. The Congo and Indonesia are among countries forecast to ramp up production of CO2 massively, yet both of them are but a spec. The hard numbers show that if CO2 actually mattered, and the eco-greens really cared about it, they be talking about “The China Problem”.

Australia is irrelevant, except in some symbolic sacrificial way. The 28% massive reduction, at great cost, will amount to nothing globally (assuming it can even be achieved). Though Tasmania may win the global race for the fastest transition from first to third world. (North Korea here we come).

In the end, the real drivers of global CO2 may or may not be things like forest and peat fires, ocean currents, phytoplankton in any case.  Won’t it be a great day when we figure exactly where all that CO2 is coming from and going to?

       — Jo

 

[...]

Since 2000 humans have put out 30% of their total CO2 but there is nothing to show for it.

The global “pause” has been running for nearly 19 years. But a whopping 30% of all the human emissions of fossil fuels, ever, has come out since the year 2000. Nearly 40% of all our emissions since 1990.

All that CO2, and nothing to show for it. Half of all human emissions of “carbon pollution” have occurred since 1987.

 

Here’s your handy reckoning table for human emissions from 1751 – 2014. (I know you’ve been waiting for it). Next time you need to know what percentage of the total human emissions of CO2 has been emitted since, say, Ash Wednesday, Cyclone Tracy, or Napoleon, or whatever, this is the table you need.  When we hear that it’s the warmest summer since 1939, this table tells us what the CO2 levels were in 1939.

[...]

The mystery of a massive 9Gt of CO2 that came and went — could it be phytoplankton?

There is a mystery peak in global CO2 levels in 1990. For some reason from 1989 suddenly global carbon levels jumped higher than they normal would and by 9,000 million tonnes (that’s equivalent to 2,500 mT of carbon)*. It’s only a little blip in an upward line, but as a deviation from the long steady norm, it’s a dramatic change (see the second graph below). Within a few years the excess disappeared and the reasonably straight line increase in CO2 resumed. The sudden jump is equivalent to nearly half of our total annual human fossil fuel emissions. Nothing about this peak fits with the timing of human induced fossil fuel emissions. These were not big years in our output (indeed it coincides with the collapse of the soviet block when inefficient Russian industry was shut down) .

The mystery of the massive CO2 bubble exposes how little we know about why CO2 levels rise and fall, and whether human emissions make much difference. The world is spending $4 billion dollars a day trying to change this global CO2 level of 0.04% (400ppm) but apparently other large forces are at work pushing up CO2, and then absorbing [...]

Factories in China produce four times as much CO2 as Western factories

China is making the world’s products, but in terms of carbon they are horribly inefficient compared to the West. Old factories and coal fired electricity mean the country is pouring out CO2 — not that that matters, but it rather puts the squeeze on anyone who thinks it’s good for the environment to shut down clean western factories and give that production to China.

Figure 2 | China’s emission exports and the top exporting provinces. a The emissions embodied in goods exported from China to the US, EU and Japan are shown, representing 58% of all emissions embodied in trade in 2007 (the largest flows are labelled in MtCO2 yr-1.

A new study came out by Lui et al. with headlines all over like “Goods manufactured in China not good for the environment, study finds”. But none of these media outlets put a number on it — how much more polluting were these Chinese factories? The answer was right there in table 1 of the paper. Lui et al compare 15 products made in China and the EU, and found that China produces 4.4 times the emissions of CO2 in order to produce the same product.

When Chinese workers [...]

North Korea — the ultimate low-carbon ideal

No nation has been more successful at reducing their carbon emissions than North Korea. Over the space of a few years, the carbon footprint of the entire nation was reduced by a massive two-thirds, thanks mostly to centralized planning with some help from famine, disease and the odd gulag. Anyone for Pine-bark cake? — Jo

Decarbonizing an economy – North Korea

Guest Post by Tom Quirk

The North Korean famine and general economic crisis from 1994 to 1998 is an extraordinary example of the failure of central planning and management. The results of what is called the Arduous March[1] are best illustrated by this image the Korean peninsula at night taken in 2014 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Night image of the Korean Peninsula in 2014 shows that North Korea is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea and China (source NASA).

The North Korean disaster led to the estimated death of between 220,000 and 2,000,000 people, 1% to 10% of the population. The famine, which continues to this day, has led to food rationing, black markets and a government keen to get foreign currency by any means — including drug smuggling and nuclear technology [...]

Where have those fossil fuel emissions gone?

Oh the paradox! Human emissions upset the delicate balance and drive up global CO2 levels by 2ppm a year, but lordy, at the same time, that delicate balance roils and rolls with the seasons by a far larger range. Get the feeling there is more to Life on Earth than humans?

There are places on Earth when CO2 swings every year by 16ppm or more – like Point Barrow. Then there are places like the South Pole, where it barely changes all year round — a bit like the level of greenery there which varies from white to white. And there’s a clue. The other part of the world where CO2 levels don’t swing is at the equator — where it’s 100% green all year long. The big changes in terrestrial CO2 occur in the zones where plant life ebbs and flows.

Tom Quirk tracks the seasonal shifts in CO2 and finds that the northern Boreal forests are probably drawing down something like 2 – 5 gigatons of CO2 every year, and because the seasonal amplitude is getting larger each year, it suggests there is no sign of saturation.  Those plants are not bored of extra CO2 yet. This fits [...]

CO2 emissions in last 50 years made us $3.5 Trillion wealthier

Millions of people are alive today because the net emissions of carbon dioxide have increased. These extra emissions have provided essential fertilization for crops around the world. Craig Idso has released a new report calculating that the extra value that the rise in CO2 has produced from 1961 – 2011 is equivalent to $3.5 trillion dollars cumulatively. Currently the extra CO2 is worth $160 billion dollars annually. Big-biccies. Projecting forwards, increasing CO2 levels could be worth an extra $9.8 trillion on crop production between now and 2050. Virtually every economic analysis to date does not include the agricultural gains. There are also benefits in health, as warmer winters reduce mortality by more than hotter summers increase deaths. The real economic question then, is “Can we afford to slow CO2 emissions at all?”

While there are negative externalities projected by some climate modelers, their models are unvalidated, proven wrong, and based on unsupported assumptions about clouds and humidity. Compare that to the agricultural gains, which are not just demonstrated in laboratory greenhouses, but confirmed in the field, and with global satellite estimates of increased biomass.

Obviously, the only sensible thing to do at this point is continue our emissions of [...]

Astounding discovery: World War II had low carbon footprint

USS Pennsylvania leads convoy to reduce Japanese carbon emissions

Tom Quirk sends me thought provoking news.

File this in the Semi-Satirical Times

Since 1920, ice cores from Law Dome show only one significant pause in an otherwise relentless rise in CO2. Ominously, that sole plateau occurs from 1940 to 1950. If human activity drives changes in global CO2, there is no mistaking that the pause was during the only decade that war went global.

The question has to be asked: Is war an alternative to wind-farms?

Who would have thought all the tanks, bullets and bombs, and all the men in green uniforms, could be so good for the planet? World War II must have been a low electricity use time.

Or was it the mass burials – a form of carbon sequestration? (Though, cremation, after all, undoes the benefits. Does anyone have stats on the ratio of burning versus burial? Can we get a grant?)

In World War 2, direct action against the evil large fossil fuel polluters took on a new meaning. Don’t just tax those factories, bomb them!

Ahem… (all [...]

Australian emissions reductions target is undone by one week in China

Here’s a graph showing something about Australian, Chinese and Indian emissions (thanks to Tom Quirk). At a glance you might think we are up there with the best of them (doing our bit to fertilize the flora of the planet, and to regreen the deserts). Alas, the Australian tally (the green triangles) represents the total emissions of Australia. The lines depicting Chinese and Indian emissions just show their annual increases.

Chinese annual increases in emissions are larger than the entire Australian output. India is not too far behind.

UPDATE: TonyfromOz points out the Y-axis scale  is missing three zero’s. Data source: CDIAC (Thanks Anton).

It appears the new coal fired power stations and cars coming on line in the breakneck-evolution-of-China produced twice the emissions of the entire continent of Australia.

Remember our aim to reduce our national output by 5% or so by 2020. Thanks to the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Fund, the Remote Indigenous Energy Program, the Low Income Energy Efficiency Program, the Living Greener program, the Regional Natural Resource Management Planning, the Light Vehicle CO2 Emissions Standards, the Household Assistance Package, and not to mention another 36 programs I could have listed as well as [...]