How to Save the World in a Hurry

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In the planet’s history there have been five catastrophic extinctions of species. The biggest one, called “The Great Dying,” happened 250 million years ago and destroyed 96 percent of all animal species in the oceans and 70 percent of all vertebrates living on land.1 Many scientists attribute this to runaway global warming. Volcanoes in northern Russia spewed greenhouse gas and warmed the planet by 6 degrees. This melted methane hydrate crystals on the ocean floors, creating a vicious circle until the global temperature reached 15 degrees above normal. Not until ten millions years later did life recover. The UN is warning us to change course, lest the world’s temperature increase 4 degrees during this century. The temperature threshold at which the methane clathrates will melt is unknown.2

But this is not the only threat to humankind’s survival. Here I’ll review the most serious dangers and appraise some possible preventive measures.

The ancients believed that the world was composed of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. We face calamities in all four, plus an additional one. We can’t just pick one problem and leave the rest for later. We must address them all at together because they are inter-connected, forming a single package. Although there may be millions useful actions we can take to help save the world, we have to start someplace. Where? I think the answer will come from treating these five issues as a single system.

To multi-task, it helps to “kill two birds with one stone.” I have nothing against birds, but I think we need to kill five of them with one stone. Since all five issues affect each other, I look for solutions to one of them with knock-on effects to help solve the others. Where we should begin saving the planet is with multi-purpose technological innovations—especially ones that are ready (say, within five years) to become massive projects. Let’s look for specific projects that can be implemented rapidly on a huge scale, without any negative side effects, and that will help solve all the other problems at the same time. I have found only one thing so far that meets all those criteria. You’ll be surprised to hear what it is.

Five Existential Problems for Humankind

Here are the five problems that threaten human survival—the five “birds” that we want to kill with one stone.

Earth (Let’s call it “Soil.” The issue is not only its quantity but also its quality—its capacity to produce food and habitat.)

Air (Air contains our biggest problem: greenhouse gases that cause climate change.)

Fire (Let’s call it by a more general term: “Energy”)

Water (both fresh and seawater); plus one additional danger:

Defence (military preparations that supposedly make us more secure, but which often do the opposite.)

I like acronyms to help me remember lists, so here’s the one I use: “W.A.D.E.S.”, as in “My child wades in mud puddles for fun.” This stands for: Water, Air, Defence, Energy, and Soil.

Water Problems

People need freshwater for drinking, cooking, cleaning, manufacturing, and moistening agricultural soil. Less than 3 percent of Earth’s water is fresh, including the almost 2% that’s frozen in ice, less than 1% that’s groundwater and soil moisture, and less than 0.01% that’s in lakes and rivers.3 We are going to need more freshwater as our population grows to10 billion, yet already the aquifers are being depleted faster than replenished. Rivers are drying up for the lack of melting snow packs. Freshwater is being poisoned by industry, mining, fracking, and farm chemicals. So our first challenge is to conserve freshwater.

Another water challenge involves the oceans , which are so deep that they make up 99 percent of the planet’s living space. The seas are warming up. When sea turtles bury their eggs in the sand, instead of hatching the heat sometimes cooks them.4 Some marine species are moving to cooler regions of the ocean, thus starving other creatures that depend on them for food. How can we stop the warming of oceans? By stopping the warming of the air. As I said, all five problems are connected.

Meanwhile, oxygen is declining in rivers and seas. There are 405 “dead zones” in oceans, the largest of which covers 70,000 square kilometres.5 Marine life can’t survive there, partly because of the nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer runoff from farms, which feed algal blooms. However, even the waters near Antarctica have lost about three percent of the oxygen in just the last decade.6 Fortunately, dead zones are reversible if the chemical runoff is halted. Here we see the connection between water problems and soil problems.

The ocean is also becoming more acidic. It had normally been slightly alkaline, but has become about 30 percent more acid in the past two centuries, today even dissolving the shells of oysters, lobsters, and corals.7 The acidity is in the top 100 metres of the ocean. When the surface meets the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide in the air dissolves as carbonic acid. Over the years, so much of it has dissolved that carbon is 140 times more concentrated in the ocean than in the air. Oceans have been a “sink” to contain excess carbon from the atmosphere but now they are saturated.

I guess the toughest bird to kill is the acidification of the oceans. None of the measures that I have explored seem capable reversing it quickly. Reducing carbon in the atmosphere will solve it within a century or two, but not within five years, which is our realistic time frame.

Air Problems

Of the five big problems, you already know about one: the “greenhouse gases” in the air. The most worrisome gases are carbon dioxide, methane, which is what we use in our stoves, and nitrous oxide. About half of all global warming is caused by carbon dioxide.

At the dawn of civilization, the amount of atmospheric CO2 was between 275 and 285 parts per million, but it started rising sharply at the beginning of the nineteenth century8 and in 2013 reached 400 ppm. Some scientists say that 350 parts per million is tolerable, while others say that CO2 levels must not be allowed to exceed 320. Anyway, since we are now at 400 ppm, obviously we must not only prevent future emissions but remove some of the CO2 that is already in the air.

Fortunately, there are methods for sucking carbon out of the air and either locking it away or recycling it as a valuable source of energy. You hear about reducing emissions so much that I won’t focus on that but instead on capturing and sequestering or reusing the ambient carbon.

Did you know that fuel can be made from CO2? It can, and whenever we use it, instead of adding CO2 to the air, we are actually eliminating some that is already there. Such a fuel is called “carbon negative.” It helps solve our energy problem while we solve our air problem—two birds with one stone.

Defence Problems

If you are alarmed by climate change, you should also be frightened by military arsenals. You may consider weapons necessary for our security—useful tools for deterring foreign enemies who would attack if we didn’t have means of retaliating. We’re all supposed to believe that Canada has enemies, for otherwise why would our government plan to spend up to $126 billion for new fighter planes?9

But in many cases weapons have negative security value, for living with them is more dangerous than living without them. This is especially true of nuclear weapons. Military officers find them useless in real wars, for their only purpose is deterrence—to warn your potential enemy that if he strikes you with his nuclear missiles, you will immediately destroy his side. In order to make this threat credible, you cannot wait for his nukes to arrive and wipe you out. You must launch your own missiles as soon as you have been warned that his are en route.

But missiles are swift. Neither side can wait longer than ten or 15 minutes to verify that the other side’s missiles are on the way, so a nuclear war can begin by mistake. At least 13 times since 1962 nuclear weapons were nearly launched and researchers claim that the risks are still rising.10

I’ll mention one such event. A Soviet officer, Colonel Stanislav Petrov was in command of a bunker near Moscow in 1983 when NATO was holding war games in Europe. The radar began warning that nuclear missiles were en route, probably from Montana. Petrov was supposed to begin retaliating within 15 minutes, but he refused to do so, and thereby prevented World War III. Probably the false alarm was caused by clouds reflecting sunlight that looked like a missile’s plume. So Colonel Petrov saved the world! My friends and I sent him $500 with our thanks.

Nevertheless, some governments still build nuclear weapons. For example, India has about 130 nuclear bombs and Pakistan about 100. They have fought three wars and still threaten each other. If they ever use even half of them in a “limited” nuclear war, 22 million people will die from blast, acute radiation, and firestorms. Then a global famine will kill two billion more people within 10 years. This is because the bombs will explode over cities, creating black smoke that will cover the northern hemisphere and blot out the sun. Summer temperatures will stay below freezing and crops will not grow. Most of us will starve.11

Do the Indian and Pakistani military leaders realize that they cannot use their nukes? If so, why do they want to keep them? I don’t know but our only means of security is to abolish every nuclear weapon on earth. That is my specialty. I figure that it’s pointless to solve climate change and prevent mass starvation if we let a handful of stubborn politicians blow up the world anyway.

And that could happen. There are still about 16,400 nuclear weapons on the planet, mostly owned by the US and Russia, with about 2,000 set to launch on warning. Each warhead is 7 to 85 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.12

By now, any nation or major terrorist group could build a nuclear weapon if they had fissile material. Fortunately, highly enriched uranium and plutonium are kept under guard. But every nuclear power plant in the world produces plutonium, and the more of it there is, the more accessible it is to thieves. Here we see the connection between two of our problems: energy and defence. It is questionable how long we can have nuclear power without also seeing nuclear weapons proliferate.

Energy Problems

The only source of energy for early Homo Sapiens was food: about 2,000 daily calories per adult. By 100,000 years ago, they had discovered fire and their per capita use of energy had increased 2.5 times. Industrialization increased it more. By 1970 people consumed 115 times as much energy as primitive man.13 Our own lifestyle uses vast amounts of fossil fuel—energy that plants produced by photosynthesis before the dinosaurs lived.

But gradually it has become harder to obtain such fuel. A few years ago people predicted that our fossil fuels would soon be exhausted. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), new technologies — the tar sands, fracking, etc.— have made more oil and gas accessible, though with risks to the environment.

So the danger to humankind is not the shortage of these fuels but the fact that using them is so harmful. For example, there is plenty of natural gas, which is mainly methane—a mixed blessing. If it leaks into the air, it is a far worse greenhouse gas than CO2, but if it is burned, it is only half as harmful a greenhouse gas as petroleum. Inevitably some of it leaks. Moreover, there are stupendous quantities of frozen methane. Permafrost contains methane in frozen soil or peat. The west Siberian bog alone contains methane equivalent to 1.7 trillion tons of CO2—more than humans have emitted in the past 200 years.14 Clathrates are lattice-shaped chemical structures that trap or contain molecules. There are methane clathrates at the bottom of the Arctic ocean which can be mined, if other fuels are depleted. That would give us more time to change to sustainable fuel.

And we may need more time. By 2035, only 25 percent of the world’s fuel may come from sustainable sources. In the meantime, we have to choose between using fossil fuels that cause global warming and using expensive nuclear power, with its potential for more Chernobyls and Fukushimas, and its inevitable production of the essential ingredients for nuclear weapons. Again, we see links among three of our five problems—defence, energy, and air.

Arguments over energy are so emotional that long-standing friendships can break up over them. Perhaps that is why we avoid mentioning the worst danger: the possibility that the methane deposits may melt and speed up global warming, as happened in the Great Dying. Some permafrost and clathrates already are melting.15 You can set fire to water puddles in the Arctic because of the methane they contain. Scientists are uncertain, but they hope it will be fifty years before the stuff melts on a grand scale. The worst-case scenario is a giant burp—a huge bubble of methane emitted suddenly, in which case most or all animal species will become extinct. We must hurry.

Soil Problems

This planet has about 13 billion hectares of land. About 5 billion of the hectares could, to some degree, be used for agriculture, but only 1.5 billion hectares are permanently cultivated. This is about one-third of the land suitable for crop production, so some land is still available. Land is unsuitable for farming if it has the following disadvantages: no source of fresh water; too hot, too cold; too rocky; too maountainous; too salty; too rainy; too snowy; too polluted; or too deficient in nutrients. Still, unsuitable land in deserts can be made arable again by reforestation and specific agricultural techniques.

The soil is a “sink” that can sequester carbon. Trees, especially, absorb CO2 while they are still growing and retain it in their trunks until they die, when they rot or burn and release the stored-up carbon back into the atmosphere. Reforestation is one of the most promising temporary ways of sequestering carbon. The soil holds carbon unless it is plowed, but tilling soil exposes the buried carbon to the air and lets it escape. For that reason, one important agricultural trend is the practice of “no-till farming,” whereby each seed is poked down into the soil by a drill. After the harvest, the residue can be left on the ground as a mulch instead of being plowed under.

Over time, much of the planet has desertified, partly because farmers have cut forests to obtain farmland, and partly because wild animals no longer graze in herds. Although vegetarians believe that the earth cannot produce meat for the large future populations, some environmentalists argue that well-managed herds of animals can make the deserts fertile again. They keep livestock in tight herds and move them from one paddock to another every few days. The animals stir up the soil a bit and leave their droppings as fertilizer before moving on. Rotating herds restores degraded pasture land.16

In any case, the growing human population will require more cropland. However well managed, this will reduce natural habitat and genetic diversity. The biologist E.O. Wilson expects that up to half of all existing species will become extinct during this century.17

The human population may reach 10.5 billion by 2050, when it will begin to decline again.18 Unfortunately, the amount of food produced per capita may not keep up with this growth. The World Health Organization estimates that over 12% of all human beings are now malnourished. Yet even so, greenhouse gas emissions from farmland are increasing each year.19

Where food production has kept up with population growth this has been done by irrigating and fertilizing the soil, and replacing human labor with heavy machines that burn fossil fuels. This kind of production is unsustainable. Phosphorus, necessary for fertilizer, is quickly being used up, while it is also being wasted, polluting rivers and oceans.20 Nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers warm the atmosphere over 300 times as much as the same quantity of carbon dioxide.21 Any real solution requires that fertilizers be used less, while food production increases.

Is this possible? It will become even harder when Arctic ice melts and the higher sea levels submerge land that is now farmed. Here we see that land, water, and air problems are all connected.

Solving All Five Problems

I have named five big problems that will require a technological revolution and mobilization of society in a crisis mode. Our survival is at stake, so let’s strategize about how to achieve the following solutions:

(a) Water : Let’s reduce oceans’ acidification and dead zones;
(b) Air : Let’s reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove carbon that is already the air;
© Defence : Let’s disarm all expensive weapons that jeopardize humankind’s survival;
d) Energy : Let’s produce energy from renewable sources;
e) Soil : Let’s protect land and restore degraded soil to productivity.

Saving the oceans

To save the oceans, we must replenish the oxygen in their dead zones and reduce the carbon dioxide dissolved in their surface layer.

To restore the oxygen levels, we must stop pouring fertilizer down the rivers. How? By replacing much of the fertilizer with a cheap, abundant substance that is even better for the soil. This is charcoal, or as it is usually called today, “biochar.”

To reduce the acidity of the ocean, there are several possibilities, none of which is very promising. Some scientists want to pour lime or calcium bicarbonate into the seas, especially near coral reefs.22 That would reduce the acidity locally, but not in the whole ocean.

A better innovation is the use of seaweed such as kelp as a source of ethanol, which can be mixed with gasoline or methane.23 It can replace fossil fuel without using the limited soil that is required for growing food. There’s a special bacterium that ferments seaweed into biobutanol, which is better for cars than ethanol. If 2.5 percent of the US coastline were used for seaweed growth, 6.8 billion gallons of fuel could be produced in a year.24 (That would replace one-tenth of the gasoline that the US consumes now per year.25 ) This process could become a major industry within five years. Most vehicles may switch to electric power, but there probably will always be some need for liquid fuel, especially for airplanes. By using seaweed or CO2 for fuel, we’ll decrease ocean acidity a little, while also saving soil and producing energy without adding CO2 to the air: That’s four birds with one stone. Not bad!

Enter the US Navy. Fuel for the planes on aircraft carriers must be delivered by other ships, sometimes in hostile waters. However, some of those carriers are powered by nuclear reactors, and pretty soon they will be producing the fuel onboard for their planes, using seawater. They use electrolysis to collect CO2 and hydrogen separately from the seawater. Then they combine the two gases in the presence of a catalyst, making liquid airplane fuel.26

Unfortunately, the electrolysis requires a lot of energy. Because the aircraft carriers have nuclear reactors, they can do this without emitting CO2, so the fuel is “carbon neutral.” Unfortunately, the process is inefficient. It uses more energy than it produces. It’s no solution to the energy problem, so it kills only two birds with one stone: water and air.

A civilian company in California also is producing methanol from seawater, using renewable energy. It is carbon neutral and less expensive than fuel made onboard ship. One expert calculated that this method can produce fuel for $.79 per litre, and that it will remove CO2 for the price of $114 per tonne.27 That price is competitive with fossil fuels but regrettably the technology won’t be ready to scale up as fast as we need it.

Saving the Air

Carbon can also be captured from the atmosphere, using three different methods. One scientist proposes to build “artificial trees” all around the world.28 Their “leaves” are like vertical Venetian blinds, coated with a resin that captures CO2 from the air as it blows through. The CO2 is removed, then buried or recycled to make methane, and the resin is re-used. Since CO2 disperses all over the world, a molecule emitted in Timbuktu might be captured later in Buenos Aires or Shanghai.

It is more efficient to remove the CO2 where it is concentrated, as from the flue of a fossil fuel-burning power plant. The CO2 can then be made into methane or used to grow algae, which absorb huge amounts of carbon. Later, when squeezed, the algae’s oils can be made into airplane fuel. The whole cycle is carbon neutral, since the algae remove as much carbon, time after time, as the airplane engines emit.

Saving the Soil

Now we come to my favorite way of removing carbon from the atmosphere while also enriching the soil. Ta-da! The winner is biochar. See, I said you’d be surprised! In the Amazon valley biochar exists in deep piles where it was deposited thousands of years ago. The Indians collected waste from their gardens and kitchens. They smoldered it in heaps covered with dirt, thereby limiting the presence of oxygen. The resulting charcoal was mixed with other materials such as pottery shards and buried, where it has kept CO2 sequestered from the air ever since.29

Today machines produce biochar by “pyrolysis,” while also capturing the oils and gases for fuel.30 It can be made from any household or agricultural waste, such as corn stover, peanut shells, or the feathers, heads, and guts of poultry at a slaughterhouse. The biochar is then spread onto the soil, making it rich, black, and fertile. The biochar also retains moisture, restoring fertility even to degraded desert land. Plans are underway to revive parts of the Sahara desert to farmland, while slowing climate change.31

Biochar helps solve all five of our existential problems. Five birds with one stone. Many other innovations help with one or two problems, and several of them can produce carbon-neutral fuel. Biochar, however, is truly carbon negative . It can remove CO2 from the air and permanently sequester it. The technology is sufficiently advanced that it’s possible to begin making biochar and biofuels world-wide as a major industry within five years.

A 2009 report estimated conservatively that one gigatonne per year of carbon can be stored in biochar by 2030. (For comparison: the human use of fossil fuels now emits about 26 gigatonnes of CO2 per year, so we still have to reduce that amount greatly.32 ) But within a few more years, about five to nine gigatonnes of CO2 per year can be captured. We’ll be growing more and better food at the same time, as well as reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions, and improving the soil’s retention of water.

Since the authors of the report were only concerned with the sequestration of carbon, they did not even mention that biofuel is also produced during pyrolysis. However, other inventors are specializing in the fuel. Indeed, for $27,000 you can buy a machine that produces clean energy at less than 10 cents a kilowatt hour.33 Biochar is a win, win, win, win, win solution. It’s not magic, but it can help significantly.

Water : Biochar retains moisture in farmland so that it requires little or no irrigation.
Air : Biochar reduces the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and keeps it locked away for thousands of years.
Energy : Biochar produces oils and gases that can supplement other sources of energy.
Soil : Biochar restores the fertility of degraded soil, replacing fertilizer and enabling plants to grow larger and healthier than if grown with ordinary farming methods.

But saving the world will cost a lot. To pay for it we need to tax carbon everywhere in the world. I’m not suggesting cap and trade , but a direct carbon tax . It’s less bureaucratic and there are fewer ways to avoid it if you pay the tax at the pump.

But, you may ask: Did you forget Defence?

No, biochar can help with defence and security too, by providing the best conceivable reason to abolish dangerous weapons, which we need to do for our own security. Canada can save pots of cash by not purchasing $125 billion worth of F35 fighter planes and the US can save $640 billion over the next ten years by disarming its nuclear weapons.34 Disarmament not only will make us safer, but will also cut the only item in the budget that’s big enough. For example, I’d use some of the money for, say, pyrolizing the billions of dead pines in the Rockies that beetles killed because winters have become too warm. If you have other ideas, fine. Promote your own way of saving the world instead. But promise me this: that you’ll go push some politicians.

Yes, it’s a political project. Every political party needs a coherent, comprehensive program. Take a comprehensive plan to the leaders of your political party and demand that they put it on their platform. We can kill five birds with one stone. Or, to use more uplifting rhetoric, we can save this world. Let’s do it within five years.

Video

www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_aJB7u_W_8 Recorded at CPRA, St Catharines, ON, 30 May 2014.

Notes

1 “How a Single Act of Evolution Nearly Wiped Out All Life on Earth”. ScienceDaily. 1 April 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014.

2 John Seales Avery, “Preventing a Human-Initiated Sixth Geological Extinction Event,” Countercurrents.org, May 2, 2014. www.countercurrents.org/avery020514.htm. For the UN report, see: www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/11/18/Climate-change-report-warns-dramatically-warmer-world-this-century; Climate Central, “Nearing a Tipping Point on Melting Permafrost?” www.climatecentral.org/news/neaing-a-tipping-point-on-mel

3 “Ocean Acidification,” The National Geographic. ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification

4 For a comprehensive report on the state of the oceans, see Alanna Mitchell, Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis. (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2009) ebook loc. 136.

5 R. J. Diaz and R. Rosenberg, “Spreading Dead Zones and Consequences for Marine Ecosystem,” Science 321 (2008-08-15) p. 5891. dx..doi.org/10.1126%2Fscience.1156401.

6 Mitchell, loc 138.

7 “U.N.: Oceans are Thirty Percent more Acidic than before Fossil Fuels” blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/news/chiefeditor/2009/12/acidification.html Also: ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-ocean-acidification

8 A. Neftel, E. Moor, H. Oeschger, B. Stauffer (1985). “Evidence from polar ice cores for the increase in atmospheric CO2 in the past two centuries”. Nature 315 (6014): 45–47.

9 Steven Chase, “F-35 costs at least $10-billion higher than Ottawa estimates, expert says.” Globe and Mail, April 29, 2013. www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/f-35-costs-could-double-over-programs-life-expert-says/article18325378

10 Julian Borger, “Risk of nuclear accidents is rising, says report on near-misses,” The Guardian, Tuesday 29 April, 2014.. See also Eric Schlosser, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety (New York: Penguin, 2013.)

11 Alan Robock, “Climatic Consequences of Nuclear Conflict: Nuclear Winter is Still a Danger,” Huffington Post Blog, Feb. 20, 2014: “Ban Nuclear Weapons, Saving Money and Saving the World.” www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-robock/ban-nuclear-weapons-savin_b_4819299.html

12 Steven Starr, “Launch-Ready Nuclear Weapons: A Threat to All Nations and Peoples.” www.psr.org/nuclear-weapons/launch-ready-nuclear-weapons.pdf

13 www.wou.edu/las/physci/GS361/electricity%20generation/HistoricalPerspectives.htm

14 www.planetextinction.com/planet_extinction_permafrost.htm

15 Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov, “Methane Release and Coastal Environment in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf,” Journal of Marine System, Jan. 2006, Vol. 66 (1-4) pp. 227-243.

16 Savory Institute, “Holistic Management Overview,” http://www.savoryinstitute.com/science/holistic-management-overview/

17 E. O. Wilson in conversation with Charlie Rose, May 5, 2014. www.charlierose.com/watch/60387043

18 “World Population Prospects:The 2008 Revision”. Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. June 2009.

19 FAO Statistical Yearbook 2013 – World Food and Agriculture. reliefweb.int/report/world/fao-statistical-yearbook-2013-world-food-and-agriculture

20 Phosphorus Platform. www.phosphorusplatform.org/p-facts/p-fact-1.html

21 United States Environmental Protection Agency. epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/n2o.html

22 Colin Sullivan and Climate Wire, “Seawater Plus Calcium Could Cut Carbon, Aid Sea Life,” Jan. 20,2011. www,scientificamerican.com/article/seawater-plus-calcium-cut-carbon . See also Science Daily: “Adding Lime To Seawater May Cut Carbon Dioxide Levels Back To Pre-industrial Levels. July 22, 2008. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008.07/0807210042.htm

23 Damian Carrington, “Fast Growing, Carbohydrate-rich Kelps Could Supply Green Biofuels,” The Guardian, Mon. July 1, 2013. www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jul/01/seaweed-biofuel-alternative-energy-kelp-scotland

24 Dina Fine Maron, “Could Seaweed Farming Prove a Boon for Biofuels?” www.scientificamerican.com/article/seaweed-algae-du-pont-feedstock-biobutanol-biofuel

25 wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_gallons_of_gasoline_are_used_in_the_US_each_year#slide=2

26 Jessica Tozer, “Energy Independence: Creating Fuel from Seawater,” April 11,2014 science.dodlive.mil/2014/04/11/energy-independence-creating-fuel-from-sea-water

27 John Morgan, “Zero Emissions Synfuel from Seawater,” by John Morgan.. Brave New Climate. bravenewclimate.com/2013/01/16/zero-emission-synfuel-from-seawater

28 Richard Schiffman, “Carbon Capture Technologies that Could Help Fight Climate Change,” Earth Island Journal, 31 Jan 2013.

29 To see a video of biochar being produced with homemade contemporary equipment,see this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMUmby8PpU

30 See All Power Labs, www.allpowerlabs.org/gasification This company produces gasifiers, which yield more gas than biochar. Alternative machines vary the output, depending primarily on the amount of heat applied.

31 Pro Natura Newsletter, “Greening the Sahara with Biochar While Fighting Climate Change,” www.pronatura.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Greening-the-Sahara-with-Biochar-2012.pdf

32 Skeptical Science www.skepticalscience.com/human-CO2-smaller-than-natural-emissions.htm

33 Daniel Terdiman, “Carbon-negative energy, a reality at last—and Cheap Too!” C/Neg Oct. 19, 2013. www.cnet.com/news/carbon-negative-energy-a-reality-at-last-and-cheap-too

34 Joe Cirincione “Exploding Budgets,”, Time Magazine, Oct. 10, 2012. nation.time.com/2012/10/10/exploding-budgets

Comments

  1. Peter Venton

    I’m not a scientist but this is an excellent piece of public policy formation because it is comprehensive with respect to both objectives (i.e. solving problems) which are interrelated and multiple policy instruments. There are two benefits. One is that one policy instrument has a positive impact on more than one problem – for example the “knock on effect” of using seaweed or CO2 for fuel that decreases ocean acidity a little and saves soil and produces energy without adding CO2 to the air. Biochar has an even more dramatic knock on effect. The other benefit relates to the “comparative advantage” of different policy instruments. A simple example is the policy instrument of a carbon tax which has a positive effect on green house gas emissions and a negative effect on disposable income. The negative effect is offset by the other policy instrument of reduced defense expenditures which render the carbon tax neutral and has a positive effect on security. I will be sending this article to political leaders.

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