A short discussion of Cap and Trade

cap_and_trade_article
Emissions trading (or emission trading) is an administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. It is sometimes called cap and trade.
A central authority (usually a government or international body) sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that can be emitted. Companies or other groups are issued emission permits and are required to hold an equivalent number of allowances (or credits) which represent the right to emit a specific amount. The total amount of allowances and credits cannot exceed the cap, limiting total emissions to that level. Companies that need to increase their emission allowance must buy credits from those who pollute less. The transfer of allowances is referred to as a trade. In effect, the buyer is paying a charge for polluting, while the seller is being rewarded for having reduced emissions by more than was needed. Thus, in theory, those that can easily reduce emissions most cheaply will do so, achieving the pollution reduction at the lowest possible cost to society.
It’s not every day we get to invent a commodity…
TeamLDCO (6:46:36 PM): do you have a post about cap and trade anywhere in your blog?
IRAHit (6:48:59 PM): no
IRAHit (6:49:09 PM): that’s a good idea though
TeamLDCO (6:49:23 PM): are you for or against it?
IRAHit (6:50:39 PM): well it seems to be working in europe as another commodities market
TeamLDCO (6:50:53 PM): hmm
TeamLDCO (6:51:16 PM): then why do conservatives say its a failure if it’s working?
IRAHit (6:51:24 PM): but it might put the US at a disadvantage
IRAHit (6:51:37 PM): they say it won’t work in the states
IRAHit (6:52:38 PM): cause china india africa south america ain’t capping shit
IRAHit (6:53:39 PM): we could pay a heavy price for being green
IRAHit (6:53:58 PM): though in the long term it would pay off
TeamLDCO (6:54:14 PM): thats what i think too
TeamLDCO (6:54:30 PM): so republicans don’t want to pay the initial costs
IRAHit (6:56:02 PM): well they seem to have less of a concern about global warming
IRAHit (6:56:14 PM): but yeah basically
IRAHit (6:56:52 PM): when the oil runs out we will be glad we have a sustainable energy infrastructure
TeamLDCO (7:00:13 PM): and
TeamLDCO (7:00:17 PM): at the current pace
TeamLDCO (7:00:24 PM): oil will be gone in our children’s lifetime
IRAHit (7:00:59 PM): probably ours
TeamLDCO (7:01:07 PM): geez

The Carbon cycle

Go back two hundred years

The carbon cycle has been occurring for four billion years.  Plants take carbon from the air and store it in themselves. When the plants die the carbon is either composted or trapped underground to become coal. Animals take carbon from plants and become oil in death.

As a result the level of carbon dioxide is the air has been steadily decreasing since life started to flourish.

Present day

We are putting all the carbon back in the air.

Perhaps a good way to explain the complex phenomenon of global warming is just to say we are turning back the clock, rapidly. The earth will find it’s equilibrium again but it might be a bumpy ride.

carboncycle

Who will stop burning coal? Transferring our Carbon footprint to the Third World

Nobody.

By most estimates we have used about a third of the coal deposits on the planet.

Led by western Europe, industrialized nations are moving towards a sustainable future.  Unfortunately this may mean that developing nations will reject sustainable technology in favor of the technologies we left behind.

With the rise of Nanosolar it may eventually become more cost effective than coal, particularly given our dependence on cheap oil for extraction.  Most likely we will sell our coal to countries that want it.

So we will all feel better about getting our energy in a clean way but is it possible to stop the use of coal?

US Coal Deposits:

coal_regions_us_reserves_1996

Gas Hydrate solid methane

gas-hydrate

collected from the bottom of the ocean. vast amounts. Why can’t drill for it like we do for oil?

Those were the questions I had about the large amount of natural gas trapped mostly on the bottom of the ocean by the pressure and cold temperatures. One obsticle with drilling is the extreme depths…not like offshore oil drilling which is done in relatively shallow waters.

Gas hydrates are crystalline solids consisting of gas molecules, usually methane, each surrounded by a cage of water molecules.  Gas hydrate looks and acts like ice, but it contains vast amounts of methane.

The real problem with considering this as a fuel source is the fuel would be Methane. Methane is a Greenhouse gas and when it is burned for fuel it produces Carbon Dioxide.   Taking the Hydrate out would also destabilize the sea floor and cause giant Tsunamis. So let’s not spend a lot of time and money on this kind of pipe dream.

The thing about logging

redwood-logging

Logging as practiced by Americans and Canadians in places like New England and the Pacific Northwest is done right.  The trees they currently harvest were planted by loggers fifty to a hundred years ago and they will plants new trees after they cut old ones down.

I don’t think cutting down boreal forest is acceptable anymore.  Old growth forest ecosystems are not adapted to periodic harvest and are destroyed. With little regulations, no new trees are planted and the land can turn to desert.

Trees that are several hundred years old are giant carbon capture machines and we are using them as toilet paper.

Dividing up the Arctic Oil

There are many issues concerning what used to be the great white north.  As global warming advances more and more of the arctic will become land without glaciers on top.  This means that the environment will change drastically, essentially a new ecosystem is being born and life will colonize the new land.  How much of that new life will be human remains to be seen.

All Countries bordering the arctic will lay claim to some portion but clearly this will mainly be a battle between the US and Russia.  Both nations will take advantage of the vast untapped oil fields currently trapped under miles of ice.

Territorial disputes may lead to military conflict as some russian newspapers are preparing for but whoever ends up with the land, what they do with it will have a huge impact.

Oil spotted wasteland or refuge for the displaced creatures of the world?

arctic-oil-90b23jul08

My question about clean coal

What happens when the ground moves?

Quick background on clean coal (many seem confused by the ads):  The idea is to pump the CO2 emitted by the burning of coal underground and keep it there forever.  The underground storage containers would ideally be already existing geologic formations.

Say we found enough natural underground airtight spaces to put all our CO2 emissions, at what point does it leak back into the atmosphere? The earth’s crust will move as it inevitably does and decades of carbon emissions will go up all at once.

We should start accepting the fact that humans will eventually burn all the coal and oil and natural gas on the planet. We should strive to slow the pace at which we burn through all the life that existed before us but should also realize that we are rebooting the carbon cycle.

All the CO2 will go into the air eventually and given the extremely high costs of underground carbon storage, perhaps we should let it go up now and focus our energy on dealing with the consequences.

clean-coal

Into the water

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