Posts Tagged With: fossil fuels

WE ARE PHYSICIANS TO A DYING PLANET

DSC08216 (Copy)During the 1970’s, Wallace Broecker, of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, began warning anyone who would listen about the dangerous buildup of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere. Thirty years later we are witness to a dying planet as we know it. Losing great mammals like elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions, tigers, polar bears, monkeys, gorillas, whales, oceans, coral, sand. We lose millions of small populations of plants and insects. We’ve lost billions of birds, dangerous numbers of amphibians, lizards and frogs. The rates of loss in every country is accelerating.

In Broecker’s day, developers began working on a scrubber, a unit 10 feet by 50 feet that can scrub carbon from the air. It would then have to be piped underground beneath the saline layers and stored.  “Better yet, a way must be found to turn carbon dioxide into a mineral without using a lot of energy to do it,” Broecker said. Gas seeping out and escaping into the atmosphere is one of the factors holding the technology back.

Fast forward to 2007.  An international team of scientists has investigated how basaltic rocks in Iceland’s geothermal fields can naturally store C02. Dubbed the CarbFix project.  The researchers have happened upon a method of stowing carbon away that can fast-track the mineralization of CO2.  Researchers have come up with a technique that promises to turn the gas into a solid within two years,  a drastically shorter time frame than the centuries or millennia the current scientific consensus suggests.

The team at Reykjavik Energy’s Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, where the original study took place, says up to 5,000 tons (4,535 tonnes) of CO2 are now being stowed away each year.

What really surprised the researchers was not just how much of the CO2 was converted, but how quickly all of this happened. Through observations  researchers found that more than 95 percent of the CO2 had formed into solid carbonate minerals within just two years.

International Energy Agency describes this method of carbon capture as a “critical component” in combating climate change.

Five thousand tons sounds like a lot, but it is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the billions of metric tons emitted globally each year. The good news is that basalt rock is present beneath the Earth’s surface more than any other rock. It’s not so common on land, with only around 10 percent of the continents made up of basalt, but almost all the ocean floors contain the material. So while it won’t be simple, replicating the process in other locations is a real possibility.

Of course, the best way to stop climate change from wreaking havoc on our planet, is to remove CO2 spewing cars, cows, factories, fossil fuels, gas and coal, that produce CO2 gas.

All necessary technological components are available and in use in various areas, but carbon sequestration is yet to be applied on a scale that would make any meaningful difference to global carbon emissions.

It is up to us and our government to set things in  motion. We must get the word out by reporting to all the agencies fighting climate change, including our Senators and Representatives at all local and national levels. Change always takes place from the people up. We can’t wait for government to do it all. We must push them to do it by complaining loudly.

The Reykjavik team’s research was published in the journal Science.

Groups you may want to know about:  Earth Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council,  Air and Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund, Wilderness Society, FSEEE, National Park Trust, Friends of the River.  There are hundreds of groups that are active on environmental issues.

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THINK CLIMATE CHANGE BEFORE YOU VOTE.

A crucial alarm was brought to our attention yesterday.

United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said:   “Climate change caused by burning fossil fuels has accelerated to the point that the only chance of keeping the world’s temperature below a dangerous level may be to end all greenhouse gas emissions by the end of this century The report issued in Copenhagen said climate change already is affecting life on every continent and in rising oceans.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

“The scientific community across the world is sounding the alarm. Climate change is real and it will have devastating consequences around the globe unless we act boldly and decisively,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate environment and energy committees.

Sanders has proposed a fee on carbon and methane emissions. The measure is cosponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Their bill would help create millions of jobs transforming the U.S. energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. Another Sanders bill would end tax breaks and subsidies for oil and coal companies. A companion measure in the House is sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison.

Both ideas are backed by scientists and leading economists but blocked by Republicans in Congress. “Many Republicans now respond to the crisis of climate change by saying they are not scientists and therefore have no opinion,” Sanders said. “Well, most of them are not doctors but they respect doctors’ opinions on cancer and heart disease. Most of them are not generals but they respect the opinions of our military leaders. It’s time for them to respect the views of the scientific community on climate change.”

It is time to bug your representatives to DO SOMETHING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, no matter what party you belong to.  Let us try to save what we have before we see devastation as it is portrayed in science fiction movies like blade runner.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

CASTING OUR FATE TO THE SUN AND WIND.

This year, the Obama administration moved to streamline the development of large-scale solar projects on public lands by approving vast tracts across the West  identified as the highest generating potential with the fewest environmental impacts. These sites were identified after the results of an environmental impact report.  An area of 285,000 acres, with sites in Nevada, Colorado, Utah, California, Arizona and New Mexico are in the works.  Jim and I saw one of those massive solar plants  being built in New Mexico earlier in the year.  We wondered why it was out in the middle of no-where. We didn’t know about the way the sites were chosen. Anyway, net result is clean power and jobs, jobs, jobs.

When I had my solar installed, there was a handful of people installing under rigid inspections and rules to make sure there was no space for failure during the process. Now I could choose from 600 different solar producers and as many installers. The rigid inspection process is still that way. I’m investigating solar for a rental because costs have come down so far.

And, we get enough electricity from wind power for 13 million homes. The energy department predicts  that by 2030, we could get 20 percent of our energy from the wind, about as much as we now get from nuclear power plants.

But progress on wind power is in jeopardy because Congress  has yet to renew an important incentive set to expire at the end of this year. It is called the production tax credit, or PTC,  Without it orders for wind turbines are likely to stall, impeding our transition away from coal. The wind industry employs over 37,000 Americans, and we need to keep those jobs, jobs, jobs.

The PTC was instituted by the George H.W. Bush administration, a sensible policy where anyone who operates a wind turbine or solar biomass, or other type of renewable power plant that produces a significant level of electricity to the commercial grid, receives a federal tax credit of 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power it produces for the first ten years of its life. It got renewed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus package of 2009.

Two Republicans, Representative David Reichert, and Senator Chuck Grassley have sponsored versions to renew it through 2016 in the house, and 2014 in the senate. Neither measure  has come up for a vote but it is already being heavily lobbied against by the fossil fuel industries.

As a political pessimist, I fear the worst, and hope I’m wrong.  Wind generation is actually competitive in price with the energy produced by NEW coal plants and in my opinion no NEW coal plants should  be issued permits until they can reduce industrial pollution to an acceptable level. Coal plants actually cause deaths from their mercury, soot and carbon emissions, not to mention death to fish in streams.  Wind and solar save our planet from tons and tons of carbon emissions, a clean air benefit for everybody.

THIS HEADLINE WAS IN THE WASHINGTON POST YESTERDAY MORNING:

Security lapses at nuclear site found before break-in
Security problems at Y-12 nuclear complex were identified in classified reports nearly two years before three activists broke into the facility where weapons-grade uranium is stored.
( by Dana Priest , The Washington Post)

After the Japanese disaster, and the huge up front government subsidies to build nuclear power plants (way over the small PTC tax credits), and proven vulnerability of nuclear power plants,  why would we as a responsible nation even consider building more nuclear power plants? The cost to run them  per watt exceeds that of wind and solar. The volatile nature of Uranium, its storage and no ability to render it harmless, are an ever-present danger. In a nuclear plant disaster, the cost to bring it back on-line, if it could be repaired at all, is billions.

If you add into the equation the affects of climate change on hydro power,  wind and solar seem like an even better bet. Check the link below.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/climate-change-challenges-power-plant-operations/2012/09/09/42b26b8e-f6a5-11e1-8b93-c4f4ab1c8d13_story.html

And, don’t get me started on fracking. What a dismal proposal that is. I hope you are listening Obama and Canada.

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.