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The Kids Might Save Us All

The Kids Might Save Us All

Norah Vawter

I became involved in climate advocacy when I realized how dramatically my son’s life would be affected by climate change if we don’t do anything.

He was three years old when I started to imagine what his world would be like when he graduates from school, when he gets his first job, when he wants to start a family, and when he’s ready to retire. In different ways, the impacts of climate change will affect all of these moments.


Our kids are more knowledgeable than we who depend on the MSM for our information.

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Hopefully, our kids are more knowledgeable than we who depend on the Duopoly for our governance.

Why should children always have to deal with adult "leaders’ " willful—and well paid—ignorance? All adults, whatever our age, can enforce needed change, and it’s time we did, beginning at the voting booths.

It is technically feasible to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is a commercial product already. Can we find enough good use for.enough of it to pay the cost of capturing enough of it to stabilize the climate in a state that will enable us to grow.enough food to.feed everybody?

Yeah, “fourteen or fight.” from movie “Wild in the Streets.”

I’m not very optimistic on this topic, though I see there are a lot of ideas, e.g. https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2018/11/27/carbon-dioxide-removal-climate-change/. At 100 dollars/ton of CO2 the number is on par with numbers proposed for a carbon tax. I think for a carbon tax to be feasible, it should be a zero revenue by refunding at a flat rate, but alternatively one could apply the money towards extraction and in theory we wouldn’t be adding any extra CO2 beyond what’s there. But if we move 400 ppm to 300 ppm that would be removing 100x7.8 Gigatons of CO2 (see https://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=45) which at 100 $/ton is 1e2 x 1e2 x 7.8 x 1e9 = 7.8e13 dollars and a trillion is 1e12 so that’s 7,800 trillion dollars. Are we going to spend 10 trillion each year to do carbon sequestration? 100 trillion? (that would be 78 years to success)

I will continue to remain damn skeptical of carbon sequestration as I am some other technologies (e.g. fusion). I’m not saying we shouldn’t continue to pursue them - but it’s way too early to project them helping anytime soon.

Looks like you have an extra factor of 100 there (should be $78 trillion) - which is around the world GDP per year - so a 10 year program would involve a redirection of about 10% of GDP.

Sorry I wasn’t very clear. One 100 is for 100 ppm (400 going to 300), the other is for $100/ton, and the 7.8 Gigatoton CO2 per 1 ppm in the atmosphere is from the link. The numbers are pretty daunting as you’d expect but again I’m not saying we shouldn’t keep trying to figure out cheaper ways of carbon sequestration. I just don’t have my hopes up.

I’ve read some interesting content from @Trog and @PaulSwanee1 on nuclear and renewable power and grid design and storage but I don’t recall hearing what the had to say on carbon sequestration so if either wants to state their optimism or pessimism in this field, I’d be interested.

I wasn’t pointing to that part of the calculation. It was when you said $7.8e13 = $7800 trillion instead of $78 trillion

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Ouch. I think I have a billion/trillion miswiring in my brain (not the first time I’ve made this mistake).

$78 trillion is a lot more palatable. It might still take a factor of 5 or 10 reduction to really push the field, but that’s better than 10,000. I guess I need to adjust my level of optimism by 1000!

I don’t see carbon extraction from the atmosphere being a leading option unless it could somehow be made much cheaper than the alternatives, and I haven’t seen anyone propose even a theory as to how that could happen. I do think chances are good we will do carbon extraction from seawater, but mostly as a fuel stock (also fertilizers, but that’s not really a form of sequestration). Where biological sequestration is concerned, there is some potential in modifying agricultural practices, reforestation, and doing land management to combat, and possibly reverse, desertification. (On the latter count, I really hope Allan Savory is onto something, but my gut tells me it won’t be anywhere near that simple.) And maybe some nutrient seeding in currently-barren parts of the oceans to promote diatom blooms and other sorts of shell formation.

Where mineral sequestration is concerned, the potential is large, but not with our current system. Natural rock weathering removes about a billion tons of CO2 from the air each year, and we know of several ways to mimic that process or help it along, but the problem is that pretty much every strategy involves a major energy input–such as grinding and dispersing large amounts of olivine, or doing high-pressure injection of large volumes of seawater through peridotite formations. If we were to find ourselves with a source of abundant, cheap, clean energy, that would improve the viability of a number of these strategies greatly. But of key importance is to develop the clean energy first, and to make the transition off of fossil fuels.

I see no good sequestration strategies which could make a significant dent in our overall greenhouse footprint if we do not get off the fossil fuels first, and I see no good strategies which have unbounded potential at the level which makes them good strategies. Many of the best strategies look like they would have diminishing effectiveness, such that the easiest sequestration occurs at first, and then it gets progressively more difficult. For such strategies, it would be best to treat them as finite resources, and using up their potential while we are still emitting large amounts of fossil carbon would only diminish their ultimate long-term potential for the sake of allowing us to continue to burn more fossil carbon for a while longer. (And it would be doubly pointless if we were to actually expend dirty energy to drive those sequestration processes.)

So, even if there could, in theory, be some reasons for optimism about the long-term potential of sequestration, it seems to me that at this point there are even more compelling reasons not to evince such optimism.

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