Thursday, 21 July 2022

Record UK Heatwave

The UK just had a record breaking heatwave, and the future predictions are for worse.


But surely the Paris Agreement and the 26th COP agreement will save us all? 😉

There are a few problems with COP26; nation is pitted against nation in order to keep using fossil fuels as long as possible to preserve their economy - (China wins with a 2060 target), Net Zero Carbon fixes CO2 levels at a new overheated level when they need to reduce, and money for the climate crippled countries hasn't appeared.

My Reversing Climate Change scheme addresses all these weaknesses. 

Can you think up a better one?

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

 Bonn Climate Change Conference

Truth, Lies and Catastrophe

Everybody lies: mostly to themselves.

The truth is out there, but it’s terrifying.

We all know that we are mortal and doomed to die. But every day we hide that truth from ourselves in order to see tomorrow. This habit, of hiding from tomorrow’s truth, is necessary for continued survival, but is now killing our planet.

I was going to include a mass of hyperlinks and references to the locations of where I’ve found the truth, but with the internet being available to nearly everyone, that is not necessary. And anyway, verification of truth is a necessary skill in the modern world. The internet is peppered with truth and lies. Distinguishing between them is difficult: but if we are to grow up and leave childhood’s “Trust Daddy” behind us, that’s a skill we must learn.

I like life, and want to see as much of it as possible. Intelligent life on our planet is unique in our galaxy. That’s the implication of the Fermi paradox. It could continue for another billion years if James Lovelock’s guesstimate is right. We are on a path that will eliminate all life from this planet within a few hundred years, but we can change direction if we look the truth of catastrophe squarely in the face.

How do I decide what’s true? Science helps me. As I write this I’ve a trail camera taking video clips of everything that visits the birdbath in my garden. I’ve been doing this every month for the past year and recording every visit in a spreadsheet. This is data that tells me not just which bird species visit but which just come for a drink and which actually bathe. Why do I do this? Well, as well as being a long time birdwatcher, I’m trained in using data scientifically.

People tend to think that science is fixed: full of facts set in concrete. But the great thing about science is that it’s always questioning old beliefs in order to find new truths.

Even great scientists like Einstein get things wrong. He believed that the universe had always existed and so added a fudge factor to his relativity equations to make it so. When the big bang beginning of the universe was discovered he said this was the biggest mistake of his life.

James Hansen is known for his vital testimony about climate change in 1988 and his activism for mitigating global warming. He is cited as claiming that if carbon dioxide levels are reduced to 350 ppm climate change will be stabilised. This would be returning levels to those of 1990. I checked this out by looking at the history of ice melting in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic. The graphs tell me that drastic melting started just before 1980, when levels were about 340 ppm. The graphs also tell me that true stability started breaking down after 1900 when levels rose from the pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm to 300 ppm. So where do our current levels above 420 ppm actually need to drop to? Who’s telling the truth?

Everywhere I look at climate change information I detect the fell hand of fossil fuel lobbying manipulation. Even the terms climate change and global warming have been chosen to seem unthreatening. Change could be good or bad. Warming seems harmless, even desirable in the cold northern climes where most decision makers live. If the more realistic terms of climate chaos and global overheating had been used would we now be acting differently? Or what if climate catastrophe and global burning were the terms in use? It is now known that fossil fuel lobbying even determined the very name of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Our current hope of containing climate change is invested solely in the Paris Agreement. We know that the driver of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels. Search the text of the Paris Agreement and the following words are missing; fossil, fuel, coal, oil and gas. The agreement only targets emissions, never extraction: which is inefficient, being too late in the process. No wonder there has been absolutely no change in the trend of increasing carbon dioxide and overheating.

Net Zero Carbon by 2050 is the target set by the UK. This is obviously the wrong target. If there is already too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and it keeps on increasing, we need Net Negative Carbon – and globally.

Denial, Distraction and Delay. Fossil fuel lobbyists have mostly given up denying that burning fossil fuels is causing climate change. But they are still doing what they can to delay the necessary changes that will limit their carbon throughput. It seems that the current strategy is to distract with misinformation and misdirection. Hence no mention of fossil fuels in the Paris Agreement and a Net Zero Carbon target instead of the Net Negative Carbon required. We also see schemes such as tree planting promoted, even though they have no hope of sequestering enough carbon to offset fossil fuels.

Why do fossil fuel companies keep on lobbying for measures that will destroy us? They are not necessarily evil or mad people bent on destruction: they have no choice. Directors have to maximise short-term profits and keep share prices high. When BP tried a Beyond Petroleum strategy of switching investment away from exploration for new fossil fuel reserves to investment in renewables the share price plummeted and they did a rapid U-turn. They are trapped by market forces on this road to destruction.

Methane is another increasing greenhouse gas hitting the headlines, but with misinformation about it being caused by cattle. At worst about a quarter of methane emissions are caused by agriculture, a lot of which is from cattle, but at least half of methane emissions are caused by fossil fuel extraction, either directly or by leakage.

How bad will it get? The true answer is that nobody knows for sure. The relationship between increasing carbon dioxide and increasing heat is well known and predictable because it is a linear relationship. The difficulty comes with trying to predict the effect of numerous feedbacks which are not linear. As an example: increasing temperatures melt more arctic ice which exposes more sea to warming, which melts more ice. This is an exponential relationship like all feedbacks and so is difficult to predict. And the elephant in the room that no one mentions is increasing atmospheric moisture forming clouds. Clouds are by far the biggest greenhouse factor: without them Earth would freeze solid, as would Venus. This is where the Venus effect becomes important. In the early days of our solar system both Mars and Venus were water worlds like Earth. Mars was too small to hold on to its atmosphere and so froze. Venus developed so much cloud that the greenhouse effect boiled all the water and has now created a lifeless planet with a surface temperature hot enough to melt lead. This is the path we are on if we continue unconstrained fossil fuel extraction: total extinction of all life on Earth and hence in our galaxy.

I don’t want catastrophe to happen. I’ve been a conservationist for ages. So how can we stop it happening? The obvious first step is to limit fossil fuel extraction. If that isn’t done, then the only other path to survival is geoengineering. Geoengineering is the desperation last hope.

Aren’t we already limiting fossil fuel extraction by limiting emissions? No, this is another lie. Fossil fuel extraction has continued virtually unchanged, and so have emissions. It might seem a logical thing concentrate on limiting emissions, and country by country, but it is bound to fail because it is too little, too late in the process. There are too many loopholes, such as exporting emissions to a different country. Only a global solution can fix our global problem, and only by focussing on the production of fossil fuels can we realistically control carbon. We’ve done it before under the Montreal Protocol to phase out the manufacture of CFCs and so we saved the ozone layer. That hole in the ozone layer is nearly mended already.

 

Do people check out facts to find the truth? Well I’ve included a deliberate falsehood above. Can you spot it?

 

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

 

Our Climate Change Cul-de-sac

or The Wrong Trouser Leg

When I contemplate just how ineffective the COP26 agreement is, it seems the world is still driving at full speed down a climate change cul-de-sac towards a terminating brick wall. The major participating countries with their independent plans have a wide variety of agreed targets and timescales for net zero carbon emissions, none of which are adequate. But of course they are inadequate. Any country that agreed to an adequate plan would be at an economic disadvantage to the others. Worse than that, any country on a change of government can change the plan or even do a complete U-turn. The global warming problem doesn’t have a global solution for the global problem and so is bound to fail.

I’m reminded of Terry Pratchett’s book Jingo and the trousers of time. The hero Sam Vimes makes the right decision, chooses the right trouser leg and saves the day, but he is kept in touch with the disaster that happens in the alternate universe where he made the wrong decision and took the wrong trouser leg of time. I feel like I’m in the wrong trouser leg in this multiverse and I want to change legs.

So what’s happening in the right trouser leg of time where good decisions were made?

Firstly it was agreed that a global plan was needed with a global limit on carbon emissions that reduces year by year to sustainable levels. At first this carbon ration starts at current levels and reduces slowly since this change is going to be difficult to adjust to. Then the rate of reduction speeds up as everyone adapts to a lower but totally predictable level of carbon ration.

Secondly it was recognised that the place to control carbon emissions from fossil fuels is at the beginning of the supply chain from producer to consumer. The complex network of fossil fuel extraction and distribution has so many branches that it is nearly impossible to control at the point of emission. Just think of all the gas that is flared from oil wells. It’s far more efficient to include all carbon at the point of extraction.

So now we have the idea of a global ration for carbon extraction from the geology of our planet. And the extraction of carbon by fossil fuel organisations is limited by that ration. But how is the ration distributed fairly? In my vision it is decided that every person on the planet has an equal right to a fair share. For practical reasons the carbon extraction ration is actually distributed free to every country in proportion to their population. This ration is then sold on a global market so that every fossil fuel extracting organisation can buy the quantity of ration they need to match extracted carbon. No one is allowed to extract geological carbon without adequate ration. This ration is controlled with block chain computing and is open to all to see and is part of the audit process for all fossil fuel extraction organisations.

Countries, especially developing low carbon countries, get a lot of revenue from this system and the world becomes a more equitable and stable place with fewer wars and refugees.

Because countries do not control the carbon emission plans, just the way they adjust by switching to non-carbon energy sources, it is impossible for countries to mess up the system. Countries are responsible for regulating and monitoring any fossil fuel extracting organisations based on their soil, and any disputes are settled by an independent dispute settlement system as with most trade agreements.

There is also a parallel but completely separate system for rationing organic carbon extraction. This is to control carbon extracted by forest clearance, peat extraction and similar activities. The reason they are separated is to allow for carbon sequestration either geologically or organically. This is needed because organic sequestration of carbon in the short-term carbon cycle is so fragile that the possibility of the carbon being released suddenly by sequestration woodland burning down needs to be catered for.

The final important item is that the right leg of the trousers has a net negative carbon target instead of net zero carbon. This is because we are starting with an atmosphere that already has far too much carbon in it, and so is way out of balance. And that imbalance is getting worse all the time. Net zero sounds great, balanced, a “what goes up must come down” situation, but it’s not going to fix the imbalance, only net negative carbon will put things back like they were. But the good news is that because the balance of carbon in our atmosphere is so badly out, about half of the excess carbon we emit is naturally sequestered by natural process on land and sea. So the sustainable levels target of carbon extraction for the next few decades turns out to be between 10% and 25% of current levels if we want to keep below +2°C of global warming. 10% of current levels could even keep us close to +1.5°C.

If only I could somehow get into that right trouser leg of time. Well just maybe we can back out of this cul-de-sac and take a better path.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

 

Carbon Conjuring

Misdirection: Its Recognition and Mitigation

As well as showmanship and a few trick mechanisms, the main skill of a magician doing conjuring tricks is misdirection. While your attention is being focussed over there, the key manipulation is happening just here – right in front of you, but you can’t see it. The same is happening with carbon.

Many of us know about BP hiring public relations firm Ogilvy & Mather to sell climate change being not the fault of the oil giants, but that of individuals – they invented the Carbon Footprint - “One of the most successful, deceptive PR campaigns maybe ever”. This misdirection is achieved by moving the focus away from the fossil fuel companies who extract carbon and actually control it, to the end consumers who have very little control, and being divided can never in reality control carbon. Divide and Rule. Concerned carbon activists also waste their efforts trying to promote individual actions instead of the necessary global changes required to fix a global problem. But because our Carbon Footprint makes us feel responsible and guilty we continue to fall for it.

The same shifting of blame happens with COP. The Paris agreement set things up so that each nation was responsible for controlling their own emissions, setting targets and trying to stick to them. This sets country against country since cutting carbon more quickly than rival countries sets then at an economic disadvantage. So the global problem is not tackled globally, and no one is really surprised that the carbon problem is not fixed. Once again Divide and Rule.

Global Warming and Climate Change are terms we take for granted, but they are another form of misdirection. It is little known that there was a massive lobbying effort when the IPCC was created to get the them to use these neutral terms instead of more accurate, but more frightening terms, such as; Global Overheating and Climate Chaos or Climate Catastrophe. This is another form of misdirection by the targeted use of language.

Emissions instead of Extraction. This is arguably the biggest and most successful bit of misdirection. It’s understandable that we concentrate on personal, local or national carbon emissions, but this is a global problem that needs a global solution. So a global perspective gives a better chance of solving the carbon emissions problem. Currently we are pinning our hopes on the Paris Agreement and the COP commitments by separate nations adding up to a solution. But as we know the national commitments don’t come anywhere near adding up to the necessary total. This is no surprise. Any nation committing to their fair share of emissions reduction will be at a competitive disadvantage. This is why this approach will probably never work. The other fundamental flaw is that COP is trying to control emissions, which is far too late in the process. Controlling the global supply of carbon at source would be far more efficient in so many ways. And we’ve done it before. Let’s remember how CFCs were phased out under the Montreal Protocol. It was done by phasing out manufacturing of CFCs – by limiting the supply. We can also look at the example of OPEC where oil supplies were limited by that cartel of nations in order to keep the price of oil high. I say that controlling the global supply of carbon is the most certain way to control carbon emissions.

And, why Net Zero Carbon? It sounds like a good thing to achieve. A ‘what goes up must come down’ balance. But the levels of CO2 in our atmosphere are way out of balance already, so shouldn’t we be pushing for Net Negative Carbon? Climate is already tipped way out of balance so that we need to get back to the historic CO2 range of 280 to 350 ppm instead of the current range of 413 to 420 ppm. There’s another big flaw in Net Zero, it ignores the fact that currently about half the CO2 we add to the atmosphere comes back down again because of natural ecological processes. This shows us that in the short term we don’t need to reduce carbon extraction to zero in order to obtain Net Zero and even Net Negative Carbon.

So having recognised that we need to control the global supply of carbon at source, how can we do it? I think that setting a reducing ration for how much carbon is allowed to be extracted globally is what’s necessary. The only question then is how to fairly distribute the carbon ration? One way would be expand OPEC to include all countries and all fossil fuels, and then let the new universal OPEC decide. I think a better way would be one that also sends that missing COP mitigation funding to developing nations who weren’t responsible for the mess we are in but need to cope with it. So I propose that a tradable global carbon extraction ration or quota is the right of every person equally. Practically distribution of this quota to individuals is impractical, so the quota would be split between all countries proportionally be population. There would be a global market for this quota and no carbon extracting organisation would be allowed to extract carbon without sufficient quota.

Such a system would allow the efficient and totally predictable reduction of carbon fuels in a way that would allow all governments to plan the necessary switch to renewables. It would also give low carbon developing countries a regular income that would fund mitigation measures. I think this would not only give the world a more stable climate, but also more stable politics.

Sunday, 7 November 2021

Offsetting Porn

Sam was just paying for yet another piece of porn and noticed that the website offered the option, for a small additional fee, of offsetting any damage caused by watching the porn. Sam was vaguely aware that there probably was some damage caused, associated with making the porn, but porn was far too enjoyable to just give it up. But there was a small amount of guilt associated with Sam’s porn watching. Maybe offsetting could remove that guilt? So Sam investigated further. What was this offsetting? The website had a link that explained. There was an offsetting NGO that showed a picture of a schoolgirl, Maria. The NGO explained that Maria was an indigenous Amazon virgin schoolgirl in danger of being kidnapped, sold and trafficked as a sex slave to the porn industry. Sam’s small additional fee would enable them to keep Maria safe, thus the damage not caused to Maria would offset any damage caused by Sam watching the porn. So Sam paid the fee and felt better for it, and the porn website was pleased because they appeared to be doing something to become more ethical.


What Sam didn’t know, was that the NGO was keeping Maria safe by kidnapping her and separating her from her family. Also after 30 months of gathering in offsetting fees and taking publicity photos of Maria, the NGO would sell and traffic Maria as a sex slave for the porn industry anyway. Not only that, but instead of Maria being sold at the beginning of the 30 months, Isabella, her school friend down the road, was kidnapped and sold instead. The steady supply of virgin sex slaves for the porn industry did not halt for an instant.

This fable is the exact parallel to what happens with carbon offsetting on your plane flights etc. Just change months to years and virgin schoolgirl to virgin rain forest.

Offsetting NGOs either buy outright or buy the logging rights to a plot of virgin rain forest and promise that it won’t be cut down for at least 30 years while they collect offsetting fees. They exclude the indigenous population who were living a sustainable lifestyle on that land. The excluded people then have to take up a new way of living, which is likely to depend on either poaching, logging or both. Although this plot of virgin rain forest is saved for 30 years, a neighbouring unprotected plot is still felled, and the supply of valuable timber doesn’t halt for an instant.

Of course the 30 year delay probably started many years ago. The first carbon offsetting scheme started just over 30 years ago. So the time for protecting that virgin rain forest is probably a lot shorter than 30 years.

There are other offsetting schemes that aren’t quite as bad as this, but all of them are flawed, unless they are similar to the Iceland carbon dioxide sequestration project that turns it into rock. Anything less is probably going to release the carbon back into the atmosphere – eventually. The current cost of the Iceland project is nearly $1,500 per tonne of carbon. So any carbon sequestration scheme that is cheaper than this is suspect. Maybe the scheme plants trees, but what if the trees burn in a forest fire? Are they insured for replacement? What if the scheme area is disrupted by armed violence as with the Dutch NGO, Face the Future and Mount Elgon National Park in eastern Uganda? Maybe carbon dioxide is being captured and stored in an old oil or gas field. Will those storage caverns leak? Or is the stored carbon dioxide being used to push out the last difficult bits of oil or gas that otherwise would have been left in the ground. It’s a minefield of problems, 

Basically any carbon offsetting scheme is suspect if it is much cheaper than $1,500 per tonne of carbon.


Thursday, 30 September 2021

Thursday, 9 September 2021

 I've been working on my blog pages for a while. The job of planning how to limit carbon dioxide emissions by rationing carbon extraction is a never ending process, but on the principle of the 80:20 rule, I think I'm 80% there. So now is the time to start publicising this blog and it's pages.

With COP26 on the horizon this adds to the reasons to publish. Also a number of bodies are publishing other ideas about how to control carbon emissions globally.