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August 26, 2015

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Climate Change Problems – Do we Save Earth or Party to the End?

October 28, 2016

 

1.  We have too many people on Earth to be able to sustain for even a few centuries.  Each person consumes some of the Earth’s resources and those resources are limited.  Our current growth rate is about 1.13% according to the World Population Clock.  Using the time-to-double formula for compound interest of 70 divided by the interest rate in percent, we get 70/1.13 = 61.9 years. Our current population of 7.4 billion people will go to 14.8 billion in about 70 years. That is the math. In the last 200 years we have gone through a very large portion of Earth’s resources and are already fighting wars over them.  How about when the population is double?  Will everybody be happy then and give up wars?  I doubt it.  Actually, when there is any growth rate, whether it is population or the economy, it is unsustainable because the Earth is finite. We have to find a way to exist with zero growth or less or we will not survive.  The use of fossil fuels by all these people is one of the driving forces for global warming. 

 

2. The records at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii show that the carbon content of the atmosphere has been going up at an ever increasing rate since the early 1800’s when the CO2 level was about 280 parts per million (ppm).  The level reached 410 ppm this year and is going up faster than ever. For every change of 1ppm of CO2 the Earth’s temperature changes by 0.2 degrees F.  The temperature rise lags the CO2 rise by a century or so meaning we won’t feel the full impact of what we have done, but our descendants will.  Right now the Earth's temperature reaches new highs almost every month. However, even if we stop CO2 production right now the temperature will still go up unless we also remove all that excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Without this removal, the temperature will continue to go up by another 28 degrees F which will certainly kill most of the life on the planet.  To get back to the CO2 levels of 1800 we need to remove about 1.4 trillion metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.  Not an easy task.

 

3. A reliable non-carbon fuel is needed to eliminate the global warming problem.  This means no fossil fuels! Nuclear is out because of high cost and dangerous byproducts.  It also requires fuel to mine uranium ore, process it into fuel, transport it to the power plants and carry away the spent fuel rods for further reprocessing.  Currently all the transportation and processing runs on fossil fuels so there is not much benefit to using nuclear in the first place. The only other practical fuel is hydrogen, but it is hard to handle because it leaks out through the tiniest holes and takes up a lot of room even when compressed to several tens of thousand pounds per square inch.  Ammonia however, is an efficient hydrogen carrier and one gallon of ammonia contains as much hydrogen as 1.5 gallons of liquid hydrogen cooled to near absolute zero.  Cryogenic hydrogen is not practical to use for your car or to power your house or boat or almost anything else except a rocket to outer space.

 

Fuel cells made by Toyota or Apollo Energy Systems convert ammonia directly to electricity and exhaust water and nitrogen.  No bad waste products. Two companies, one in Canada and one in Austria make ammonia synt