To build a healthy, stable climate, established through sensible economic and ecological principles using a wide array of energy sources, land use practices, and personal efforts.
A world with a carefully managed, benign and stable climate with optimum conditions for human well-being and long-term sustainable use of resources and energy.
Key First Steps
Understand the Urgency:At 410ppm CO2, our current atmospheric concentration of CO2, the temperatures will be about 3-40C warmer than today. The sea level would be up about 30m (100 ft). The ocean would be warm enough that Florida crocodiles would likely be swimming around the wreckage of flooded buildings, and New York would just have the tips of the highest land as isolated islands.
Reduce excess greenhouse gases to zero as quickly as possible using a process of logical transition so the economy is bolstered, not harmed
This is the most important, but also the most controversial part of the first key critical steps because it means changing the business plans of many major corporations. While change of this sort can be done well and with no loss of value, it is not always done well, and people fear the result will be a financial loss to themselves. The most effective approach to making this transition involves making a smooth transition from fossil fuels of all types to a combination of nuclear, solar, wind and water power. Nuclear can be designed to act as a complete electrical supply system or can be twinned with "renewables" to act as both a base load and a backup for when the wind and sun are not providing energy.
Establish a price on carbon
The best option for a price on carbon is revenue neutral preferably in the form of a fee and dividend. This will serve to influence the market to recognize that carbon is a more expensive choice for both fuels and manufacturing processes, but will end up as a bonus for people who use less carbon and a small penalty for those who use more carbon-based fuels and materials that are processed using carbon.
Remove the Subsidies for Fossil Fuels
The IMF estimates the global subsidy for fossil fuels is approximately $5.3 trillion per year - yes trillion. These subsidies are both as a direct inflow of money top ensure the retail price is low or indirectly as tax benefits or as taxpayer paid offsets for pollution and health effects not prevented or re-mediated by the fossil fuel industries. The current revenue for the fossil fuel industry is less than $2 trillion per year. So the fossil fuel industry is actually only successful because we taxpayers all pay the industry a huge bonus in the way of direct subsidy, tax relief, medical bills, and environmental cleanup bills. If we switch in a planned fashion to energy sources that do not emit carbon, then we will effectively stop the increasing trend to global warming. We can do that free of cost, by creating a transitional period in which the fossil fuel industry and others get to use the current subsidy to make the shift away from fossil fuels. In addition, the reduction in air pollution and oil spills will save pain and suffering, not just money.
Immediately implement energy saving devices and processes
These can as simple as using LED light bulbs, improving household insulation, recycling or re-using materials, and composting green waste as mulch.
Reduce excess greenhouse gas emissions to zero by:
- switching to carbon-free or carbon-neutral energy sources
- primarily based on large scale nuclear infrastructure as the fastest and easiest way to reach necessary electrical power requirements safely, cleanly and in time
- Solar, wind, water, geothermal, fuel cells, and small modular reactors all have important roles to play especially in distributed small networks
- using intensive energy storage devices and practices
- eliminating fossil fuels from all transportation or substituting carbon-neutral fuels or electricity in battery form
- improving agricultural practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon
- capturing and recycling methane from agricultural and municipal waste
- improving forestry practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon
- re-thinking urban infrastructure
- reduce travel by using virtual meeting technology
- change concrete, steel, and aluminum processing to carbon neutral or carbon free processes
- encourage no-waste, recycling and reuse of materials
- Legislate HFCs out of refrigerants.
Draw atmospheric greenhouse gases down to pre-industrial levels to ensure the planet stabilizes at a benign climate with minimal impacts by:
- rebuilding forests to act as carbon sinks
- managing wetlands for carbon sequestration
- using biomass from perennials rather than annuals
- developing and implementing mechanical and chemical capture and sequestration
- Ocean bio-engineering to remove atmospheric CO2.
- Increase experimentation in the field for better agents. Note: No stratospheric aerosolization using agents that limit sunlight that will affect agriculture-forestry or will cause land and ocean acidification.
- Ocean deep-water pumps
Identify and adapt to the locked-in and inevitable impacts by:
- planning for sea level rise
- planning for increased local and regional drought
- planning for increased local and regional flooding
- establishing large desalination facilities for freshwater supplies especially in South America and Asia
- planning for climate refugee management.
Urgency of the Problem
Global warming poses a potentially existential threat to civil society and possibly human survival if left unchecked in the long-term. The evidence of global warming is all around us - this is not some future event.
- The atmosphere is getting warmer
- Increasing drought conditions has forced farmers to abandon farms in Syria causing major refugee problems and adding to social strife
- This year 25 million African people are short on food and water from drought, so many have begun to walk as climate refugees
- Warmer air holds more water so flooding is more intense
- Mountain ice caps are melting destroying freshwater supplies to hundreds of millions of people in South America, Asia, and even parts of the USA
- The ocean is getting warmer
- Warmer oceans are generating more intense hurricanes and storms
- Sea level is rising
- The ocean is becoming more acid
- Plankton is down 40% reducing the photosynthesis and oxygen in the water
- Coral bleaching is killing coral reefs
- The Arctic is heating up about 3-4 times as fast as the tropics
- Melting permafrost releases methane, speeding global warming
- Glaciers and polar ice caps are melting
- Global warming today is not a natural event.
- Humans have caused this global warming event by releasing excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from:
- Failing to believe science-based warnings since the 1980s
- Using gasoline or diesel to power cars, trucks, airplanes, ships, and almost any vehicle
- Heating homes, buildings, industries with fossil fuels
- Producing and delivering electricity with fossil fuels
- Using poor agricultural and forestry practices
- Being inefficient with energy
- Humans have caused this global warming event by releasing excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from:
The Time to Act is Now
Global warming sneaks up on you. You don't really notice at first because it is slow and steady. Did you know the temperature has already gone up 1.30C since the late 1700s? Doesn't sound like much, but if it increases another 1.30C that will lock in at least 7m to 8m of sea level rise. It won't do that tomorrow, but no matter what anyone does after it reaches 2.60C, the sea level will eventually reach 7m to 8m higher than today. It might take 200 years, but if your great-great grandchildren are hoping to live in South Florida, they will be out of luck unless they want to live underwater. So will several other million people.
Even though we can't easily see the problem because it is not very bad yet, what we do today will affect people in the future. Some problems are already here with millions of people on the move because of drought caused by global warming. At other times it might be 200 years in the future. But unless we act today and tomorrow, it will be too late to change the future. It will be too late for our descendants to easily manage the climate.
Global Warming is a Big Problem
The atmosphere and the ocean are getting warmer. That makes the ocean rise. The excess CO2 being introduced to the atmosphere is from burning fossil fuels. But the scale of the job to switch over every car on the planet, to convert all the heating and cooling, all the industrial processes and everything that uses oil, gas, coal or electricity to become carbon free is an enormous task; far larger than anything humans have ever previously undertaken.
This is not going to be an easy transformation. What about airplanes, what about the cost, what about throwing all those oil and gas and coal workers out of their jobs? Who is in charge? The politicians often act like they are in the pockets of the big corporations. The big Paris Agreements were not much more than talk and intentions - nothing is binding and no one has to do anything, AND it’s not enough! If no one is in charge how will anything get done? Most people have already changed light bulbs to LEDs, recycle as much as is allowed, have a smart meter on their electricity, and are planning to buy an electric car - but global warming is still happening. What else can an individual do?
Why is an integrated program not already in place and happening? After all, we really do already know technically what to do: replace fossil fuels with carbon neutral or carbon free energy sources by building new business models to use carbon free processes. We also need to help disbelievers understand global warming; by understanding the views of people who simply do not believe people can either cause or correct the current global warming. We also must deal with people who have such a major vested interest in the status quo that they will cheat and lie to prevent any action that might harm their vested and often considerable interests.
The Transition, Interventions, and Timing
To bring our climate under control and stabilize it at a benign level is no easy task. It begins with the requirement to shift from fossil fuels to carbon free or carbon neutral energy sources, and includes revising our agricultural, forestry and wetlands practices into a much improved state to allow natural carbon capture not carbon release. When do we need to start to make the changes in our emissions? At what point is it imperative to begin to capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere? Essentially we need to start now to reduce our emissions to zero within 50 years and then to reduce our CO2 levels to about 280ppm. The consequences of delay are very serious indeed.
The Economics of Interventions
Intervening to bring our emissions to zero is necessary because market forces will not automatically achieve the necessary scale of reduction before so much CO2 will have been added to the atmosphere that dangerous consequences will result. Encouraging or enforcing zero excess CO2 emissions and reducing the atmospheric CO2 to 280ppm has both a capital investment and a significant revenue stream as well as millions of new jobs to make this happen. What are the economics of this series of interventions and can we afford it?
Uranium and Thorium Power
Intensive ramping up of nuclear power plants with currently available technologies is going to be the fastest and least expensive method of transitioning from fossil fuels to carbon free or carbon neutral energy sources. The scale of the project to make this change is equivalent to at least twice the entire energy sector in the world today. No single approach will be able to do the entire job, but without nuclear power it will not be possible in time. Marked investment in new technologies with lower chance of meltdown, lowered amounts of waste, and utilization of thorium is required to make nuclear power more acceptable to the general public, especially in some countries.
Uranium and Thorium Power
Investing in nuclear power is often seen as too large an initial investment, especially today, when the lure of inexpensive wind and solar energy are in the headlines. However, comparing nuclear to renewables indicates in the long run, nuclear is cheaper and therefore more profitable if both are used for 100% delivery of power. Combining the two provides a more stable and less expensive option than renewables alone, especially if renewables do not have to store energy.
Solar and Wind
Intensive ramping up of solar and wind technologies only when they make sense with regards to the specific environment in which they are placed (e.g. solar in deserts, wind on the open plains).
- Desert locations
- Small community or regional augmentation of base load
Note: Regions cannot be "guilted" into illogical, uneconomical utilization of wind or solar (e.g. off-shore wind off Block Island, Rhode Island) if their environments cannot allow them to contribute in this effort.
Ocean waves, tides, and currents can provide power. Rivers can turn turbines. Water pumped uphill can provide energy storage
Marked investment into battery storage technologies.
- Compressed gases
- Innovative techniques
- Hydrogen fuel cells
CO2 ManagementCarbon capture and sequestration will be required to reduce the atmospheric concentration of CO2
- Air capture
- Water capture
- As biochar
- As feed stock for synthetic fuels
Ocean bioengineering to remove atmospheric CO2. Increase experimentation in the field for better agents. No stratospheric aerosolization using agents that limit sunlight that will affect agriculture-forestry or will cause land and ocean acidification.
- Ocean bioengineering
- Ocean deep water pumps
Carbon Neutral Fuels
Marked investment into new, carbon-neutral fuel plants coupled with nuclear energy facilities is a profitable concept.
- Captured carbon plus hydrogen can be used to make methane and liquid fuels
Improve land use Practices
A combination of improved agricultural and forestry with biochar production to fix CO2 for extended periods of time. Restore rain forests.
- Agricultural practices to prevent exposed soil and to capture carbon (Short write up in website)
- Forest practices revamped
- Wetland management
Energy subsidies and grants
Transfer all subsidies to fossil fuels and carbon producing industry towards nuclear, solar, wind, battery innovation, ocean bio-engineering and improved land use practices.
- Economic incentives and disincentives
- Carbon taxes
- Fee & dividend (Write-up in website)
- Cap and trade
- Subsidy removal for fossil fuels (Write-up in website)
- Regulatory strategies
One of the primary uses for liquid fuels is transportation. Liquid fossil fuels tore energy at very high intensity levels making them ideal for moving vehicles on land, in the water and in the air because so much energy can be contained is such small amounts of volume. Replacing liquids fossil fuels with carbon neutral liquid fuels, high intensity batteries, or hydrogen fuel cells, are all possible, but just being developed.
In any master plan a clear understanding of the cultural context is a requirement. Globally, the planet is a wild mix of cultures and traditions as well as basic assumptions about the value of human life and the environment. This means that while the master plan is global in extent, the implementation of any aspect will in large part be governed by the local, regional and national contexts. Given that the global warming impacts do not respect these cultural differences, the task of bringing common solutions is going to be necessarily modified to some extent by what is culturally possible.
- Civil Society
- Sustainability practices
Each of us has a role to play in bringing the climate into a stable condition. While our individual effort may be a small contribution, nonetheless, there are 7.5 billion of us so we collectively can make an enormous contribution to the necessary reductions in our combined global carbon footprint.
- Reduce, Recycle, Re-Use
- Eat Less Red Meat
- Be Energy Efficient
- Travel Lightly
- Advocate for change
- Shop and invest based on the carbon footprint
- Major research effort into making alcohols from biowaste (particularly cellulose) economical on a large scale.
- Research into hydrogen production from water - preferably using sunlight as a prime energy source (potable water production benefit)
- Geo engineering research in aerosols over ice, deep-ocean pumps, etc.
- Research on batteries and ways to make them cheaper and less flammable at industrial scale