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What can we realistically expect re global warming 5

From http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/106405-What-can-we-realistically-expect-re-global-warming?p=1774441#post1774441

OP question: "Given that there is no prospect of a political settlement over global warming, can we expect civilisation to end by 2100? Will science find a way to make the world liveable? Will the worst case scenario be the best fit scenario, or will the results be more mild then we expected?"

My comment: "A political settlement may not be the key factor. The Kyoto Protocol did not even slow the increase of emissions, and was more about being seen to respond than actually delivering anything to mitigate climate change. Similar criticism applies to the Copenhagen conference.

Reducing annual global emissions from 30 billion tons to 25 billion tons would deliver maybe a few years before a dangerous tipping point is reached. Emission reduction of this scale is essentially pointless, merely slowing an impending crisis. The real question is whether and how energy supply can be transformed globally in a way that would push CO2 concentrations downward.

Regarding sceptic views on a tipping point, the issue is the extreme rapid geological speed of increase, not whether we can stoically imagine life continuing in a high CO2 atmosphere. Of course life could survive an experimental quadrupling of CO2, just as 5% of organisms survived the Permian catastrophe, but that is hardly an optimal model.

The OP asks "can science find a way to make the world liveable?" The task here is to find a way to stabilise and reduce CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Geological sequestration of CO2 is too expensive, and does not turn CO2 into a valuable commodity. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is more a way to achieve environmental goals under the guise of a climate objective. Nuclear power is a valuable stopgap, but will only deliver a fraction of the required change in energy system.

The question, assuming we desire to return the planet to a 250 ppm CO2 state, is whether there is any way to suck CO2 out of the air and sea on a scale approaching 50 billion tons per year, assuming we continue to emit 30 billion tons, and whether such change can be made politically attractive by being self-financing and ecologically beneficial.

As far as I can see, large scale algae production is the only feasible answer. If algae can fix 100 tons of CO2 per hectare per year, then algae farms covering one percent of the world ocean (ie five million square kilometres) will be needed to stabilise the world climate. Such farms would be more than ?bandaids on Gaia?, as they would produce a wide range of valuable commodities. Enough of the produced carbon could remain unburned, in the form of fertilizer, fish food, plastics and carbon blocks, to have material impact on climate stability. If we can work out how to build infrastructure such as roads and buildings out of carbon sourced from algae, we may be able to use a commercial market system to stabilise the world climate."
Fri August 13 2010 11:14:29 AM by RobertTulip Algae biofuel  |  global warming  |  bautforum 1694 views

Comments - 5

  • Luis wrote:
    Fri August 13 2010 01:31:42 PM

    @ Robert Tulip

    Your argument about the need and its urgency is clear. Am I to understand that as per you we need to grow marine algae. Or just about grow any fast growing algae that can absorb CO2 the most ? OR grow algae that can double itself every few hours ?
    Once we start growing in such a large scale in land as well as in sea, there will not only be much CO2 absorption, there will also be adequate algae available as biomass to subsititute the fossil fuel.

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  • Vivek wrote:
    Fri August 13 2010 04:15:12 PM

    'Excess Of Everything is Dangerous',a popular quotation.You are very right.
    Global Warming is a very burning issue and if no strong step is taken to reduce it the it might result the end of human civilisation by 2100.
    growing Algae at large scale would help in decreasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere but the amount of CO2 which we are emitting per day and amount which is already available in the atmosphere,we need to cultivate algae in the whole World.
    We will have to find many other and strong means to decrease Global Warming.
    Same thing was discussed in the International Global Warming COnference 2010 in India where I submitted my research.Was not able to go to Copenhagen Conference due to some reason.
    We are working to find other means to reduce Global Warming rapidly,otherwise we would be left for Nothing..........

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  • Sat August 14 2010 12:14:35 PM

    My calculation, which I request that people check, is that 1% of the world ocean surface of 500 million square kilometres, ie an area of five million square kilometres or about two thirds the size of Australia, could grow enough algae to convert double the total mass of human CO2 emissions (30 billion tons per annum) into useful products. Building such factories would be easier in the sea than on land, because wave, current and tide energy can move water through the system, environmental effects will be beneficial, especially through localised cooling, and nutrient can be supplied from the ocean deep. Testing of materials for ocean-going fresh water bags is a first step towards this proposal. Algae farms can be built in shallow warm seas such as the Arafura Sea north of Australia, the Gulf of Tonkin in China and Vietnam, and the Gulf of Mexico in Mexico, Central America and the USA.

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  • Manohar wrote:
    Sat August 14 2010 09:40:23 PM

    @ Robert Tulip

    Are you recommending just growing algae in the ocean to absorb CO2 ? OR are you recommending some method of monitoring its growth and using the grown algae for bio mass etc ?
    It makes actually a lot of sense to look at the ocean for growing algae. That is a vast untapped arae. Lots of sunshine and water.

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  • Sun August 15 2010 02:56:27 AM

    Manohar,
    Ocean-based algae can establish commercial markets for biodiesel, fertilizer, fish food, plastics, solid fuel, carbon bricks and other products, while also reducing atmospheric CO2 level.

    It should not be necessary to sequester carbon into geological or deep ocean storage when algae products have a market value.

    Growing algae in contained plastic areas at sea can control all outputs. Sinking algated water to deep below the surface in bags, and then raising it to the surface using wind power is a way to de-water algae with minimal energy and materials cost, and to then refine the concentrated algae into fuel and other products.

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