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Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Impossible Math of Reducing CO2 Emissions

Current human emissions: 30 billion tons, which corresponds 2 ppm

So, 15 billion tons corresponds to about 1ppm CO2.

Increase in atmospheric CO2 predicted by UN over the next century if no action is taken: 468 ppm

468 ppm X 15 billion tons CO2/1 ppm = about 7 trillion tons CO2 will be emitted over the next hundred years.

This added CO2 will supposedly increase the global temperature by 7°F. But suppose we only wanted to stop 1°F rise. How hard would that be? Well, assuming there's a linear correlation, it would require that people emit 1 trillion fewer tons of CO2 over the next hundred years. That means:

-No CO2 emissions for 33 years, which require the world to return to a pre-industrial standard of living

-Half as many emissions for 66 years, which means returning to the energy use levels of 1940

OK, any other ideas? Well, here are 15 ideas, 8 of which need to be implemented to prevent a doubling of atmospheric CO2.
  • Double fuel efficiency of 2 billion cars from 30 to 60 mpg.
  • Decrease the number of car miles traveled by half.
  • Use best efficiency practices in all residential and commercial buildings.
  • Produce current coal-based electricity with twice today’s efficiency.
  • Increase wind electricity capacity by 50 times relative to today, for a total of 2 million large windmills
  • Replace 1400 coal electric plants with natural gas-powered facilities.
  • Capture AND store emissions from 800 coal electric plants.
  • CO2Produce hydrogen from coal at six times today’s rate AND store the captured.
  • Capture carbon from 180 coal-to-synfuels plants AND store the CO2.
  • Add double the current global nuclear capacity to replace coal-based electricity.
  • Install 700 times the current capacity of solar electricity.
  • Use 40,000 square kilometers of solar panels (or 4 million windmills) to produce hydrogen for fuel cell cars.
  • Increase ethanol production 50 times by creating biomass plantations with area equal to 1/6th of world cropland.
  • Eliminate tropical deforestation AND double the current rate of new forest planting.
  • Adopt conservation tillage in all agricultural soils worldwide.
There isn't a chance in hell of achieving even one of those goals.

Thankfully, climate change isn't a problem:


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