Question of the Week, 6/7/2017

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While the U.S. is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, Americans themselves are not giving up on the the great project to stop catastrophic climate change. What are some of the efforts coming from cities, businesses, or everyday citizens that are particularly innovative, or that you think can make a real difference?

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10 COMMENTS

  1. My comment will probably be unpopular in some circles but we should praise American and other world farmers who who have adopted modern biotechnological advances which reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture. Minimum or no tillage systems reduce the number of passes farmers must drive their tractors over their fields, and exposure of sub-soils which release methane is kept to a minimum. At the same time yield per acreage has gone up, slowing down deforestation and burning forests for more farm land. All of this came about because of very real economic incentives provided to farmers by the advantages of modern biotechnology. It’s a shame that unscientific hysteria has prevented the wider adoption of these agricultural methods. The latest study to back up these claims can be found here PG Economics.

  2. prietenul #1
    Jun 7, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    American and other world farmers who who have adopted modern biotechnological advances which reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture. Minimum or no tillage systems reduce the number of passes farmers must drive their tractors over their fields, and exposure of sub-soils which release methane is kept to a minimum.

    I agree that this is beneficial in several respects, but I am not so sure about it being claimed as a particularly modern innovation.
    I can recall it being trialled at an experimental station attached to a university agricultural college in the 1960s.

  3. @OP – What are some of the efforts coming from cities, businesses, or everyday citizens that are particularly innovative, or that you think can make a real difference?

    There are many which we have already discussed on other threads.

    There are technical issues to reduce CO2 and CH4 emissions:

    Negawatts – energy effiencient buildings and electrical devices – LED lights, insulated buildings heat storage and heat recovery systems.

    Low carbon generation systems suited to the specific locations and local; power demands with relocation of industries where appropriate.- 24/7 solar thermal generation with heat storage, photovoltaic (farms and local roof-top), wind turbines, hydro-electric systems, free standing tidal turbines, tidal barrages, wave power. geothermal heating and power generation.
    Some nuclear generation (preferably the safer thorium liquid salt reactors which produce waste with a shorter half-life, and which can be used to burn off some of the longer half-life existing waste radioactive isotopes). –
    Smart grid systems and linked smart remote regulated appliances to adjust demand to available supply, eliminating peak surges in demand, along with improved techniques for storing both heat and electricity.

    .. .and of course – leaving coal, oil, and gas in the ground, – unless the materials are needed for the manufacture of plastics, paints, carbon fibres etc.

    There is also some scope for biofuels such as ethanol and bio diesel.

    International undersea cables such as the the two-way ones linking Norway to England and to Germany, or the proposed cables under the Mediterranean from solar farms in North Africa to Europe.

    On transport,
    There are already electric vehicles, (road and rail), but they need to have a supply of electricity from renewable sources, and more efficient storage.
    Hydrogen powered cars also being produced in test projects by Toyota and Hyundai.

    There are also projects like Skylon, with its Sabre hybrid jet/rocket engine, which presents the possibility of hypersonic aircraft/spaceplanes fuelled with sustainably produced hydrogen and the Hyperstar Mach 5 hypersonic passenger plane.

    https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/02/leading-development-of-hypersonic.html

    HyperMach has designs for a Mach 5 hypersonic passenger plane that would travel at 80,000 feet and have 7,000-nm range. They are busy developing and testing the critical technology built into the SSBJ’s 76,000-pound-thrust H-Magjet 5500-X hybrid turbofan ramjet engines. Lugg said the company holds “major patents” for its “revolutionary propulsion technology,” which includes a superconducting turbo power core ring to generate the aircraft’s high electrical power requirements.

    Hypermach has completed final detail design of the first stage turbine core of a hypersonic engine. Manufacturing of this first stage has begun and is expected to be finished in 2016, with testing on the rig as early as February 2017. All five stages will be completed through 2018, with complete turbine core test in the fourth quarter of 2018.

    A full engine run is scheduled for 2019, and Lugg said that his company has spent the last year working with new industry partners and hiring team members for the superconducting turbine core.

    First flight of the HyperStar is now expected in 2025, with certification and entry into service slated to follow in 2028, he said. Both estimates are three years later than what was announced previously.

    There are also environmental management issues.

    Some are obvious – such as recycling materials rather than wasting them and then wasting energy acquiring new ones, or exhausting limited resources.

    Then there is carbon management, in preserving carbon sinks in peat-bogs, forests, soils, and oceans.
    Particularly regulating land management to inhibit the drying out and burning of peat bogs.
    Efficient farming and food production with a limiting of food waste and energy waste in food transportation and storage, are also important.

    Restricting deforestation, and promoting agricultural methods which build and retain organic soils.
    Intelligent management of forests to restrict wild-fires, will also be necessary in a warming climate prone to desertification in the tropics and a drying tundra.
    This may involve clearing combustible debris, or managing restricted small burns.

    Promoting simple devices like solar cookers in 3rd world countries so water can be pasteurised and food cooked without the need for fire-wood and deforestation.

    Alongside this, promoting local roof-top photovoltaic generation or wind and electrical storage in remote areas, to provide lighting and communications, without the need to build heavy infrastructure.

    Then there is the big issue of stopping the human population explosion – BEFORE nature does it for us, using some of the less pleasant ecological laws of population balance and collapses of over-populated species numbers! Starvation, intense competition for diminishing resources, wars, disease, over-exploitation and destruction of resource bases, food-chains, etc.

    Education and effective birth control are essential here.

  4. Cause and effect people! What caused the last 4 ice ages? Did science get that wrong or is everyone just turning a blind eye?

    GL

  5. Guy #4
    Jun 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Cause and effect people! What caused the last 4 ice ages?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

    Did science get that wrong

    Nope! It mapped them out in detail!

    or is everyone just turning a blind eye?

    Not everyone!
    Just the science deniers and political and media science illiterates, who make up junk claims due to a total lack of the honest investigative skills needed to educate themselves!

  6. Though some may frown at this, for the US this is huge.

    Musk and the Model 3 EV.

    Not only do EV’s facilitate the use of low cost night time wind and noonday solar PV, eliminate necessary oil use (The US make the gas guzzlingest cars on the planet) , but with their lifespans doubled over ICE vehicles the embodied energy will be halved and the waste stream more than halved.

    Upping production targets to outstrip the old Ford Model T, Musk will heave the US rapidly out of its oil addiction and make them justifiably proud. For the record a Model 3 should last seven times as long as a Model T did. What is more after a very long life it could be re-manufactured back to full spec pretty cheaply too. Its beautiful. You’d want to keep it.

    Though not intending to, Musk is giving a huge leg up to the idea of the circular economy and true sustainability, and that comprehensively saves fossil carbon getting burned and materials squandered. For the eco-indifferent it creates a much more rational investment in vehicles, with much lower depreciation rates, running and repair costs.

    Go to VT. The sound of the Blue Danube floats on the air and the car twists and turns through that Swedish road swooping though the sea. The sound of the sea and the Blue Danube comes from the car stereo, appearing and disappearing and a slight hum as it passes.

  7. Cities on oceans. I am talking like huge cities. A world wide assembly line, constructing components of ocean cities to be constructed and made to come on line at the same time. Cities that will clean air, that will control the temperature of our oceans,thus control our weather. To be constructed in such a scientific way as to account for any light differential the cities may have on the environment . making the oceans much like the lungs of our body..This is what will save our planet. Don’t tell me how it will not work,show me how it will work.
    Think of it,more room for people,more productivity making humans an asset not a liability.
    Think of the pistons in your car. Building cities around a core, “footings”, to allow the motions of the oceans to act much the same way as a 3 stroke piston engine. cities that are engines! If there is a better idea than this,wow it must be a good one 🙂 We need planetary engineering to evolve into the next type of civilization mainly a from a type 0 to a type 1 civilization. Solar,wind and the power of the moon to power the cities and maintain huge surpluses of clean and free energy. huge cities some close to the equator,making rocket launches into space easier and cheaper. I could go on but if your not excited by now,well..bla bla bla would be as useful as more info that any one could give.

  8. I could go on but if your not excited by now,well..bla bla bla would be as useful as more info that any one could give.

    The oceans already both absorb and transport, large quantities of heat, and sequester huge volumes of CO2.

    https://www.gdrc.org/oceans/fsheet-02.html
    Scientists believe that the oceans currently absorb 30-50% of the CO2 produced by the burning of fossil fuel. If they did not soak up any CO2, atmospheric CO2 levels would be much higher

    Unfortunately highly manufactured relatively short life (decades) floating structures, have a repeating large carbon footprint, so are likely to further aggravate the present human population explosion, and over-fishing problems, and demands for food production.

    Solar, wind and the power of the moon to power the cities and maintain huge surpluses of clean and free energy.

    The energy is not free, but it can be cheap – both in comparison to day-to-day running costs of other systems, and in terms of avoiding long term climate liabilities.
    There are also items I listed @#3. These generation systems don’t need floating cities in order to function.

  9. Permanently occluding chunks of the sea is bad news for its health and most of these ideas will work well on land.

    Terra forming the great scar of the Sahara Desert (quite recently formed) is my ambition. A bacterium injected into sand turns it quickly into rock. Giant 3D printer pipes injecting this stuff into sand dunes creates complete structures of sandstone. Then blow clear. Grow trees in the deep cool shade of these structures creating leafy canopies. Starting near the sea use solar energy for desalination and initiate irrigation. Leaves will start to capture moisture in the air off the sea, dropping into the shaded streams below. The perfect place for a market, a coffee, home, the goats, the lab. And repeat and repeat. Re-greening the Sahara through petrification of sand, creating cool caverns measureless to man, sinuous rills and trees bursting through into the sunlight, I can feel a poem coming on.

    The Chinese have some astonishing ideas for entirely self sustaining cities.

  10. The US releasing its targets at reducing human CO2 effluence is not only climate change denying, it’s absolutely missing the bigger, bigger, picture: that people, homo sapiens, are growing on the planet the same as animals and plants are growing on the planet. With our technologies and intellect, we’re growing better than any other creature on the planet; our economic and population growth is one and the same earthly process – the trajectory is we’ll cover every foot on the planet and use all that’s on it while we’re at it.

    Jed Trump ain’t seeing a people on the planet perspective.

    Gotta come up with how that perspective is seen by enough for human population and planet management to come into existence.

    Yet it is understood that for the present, the US isn’t communicating with other planetary governance structures re: human sapiens influencing the planet’s climate and temperature and how that can be managed. That’s too bad ‘cause many USAers know about this stuff and can assist with possible global coordination.

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