Climate Change and the Future of Humanity
More Private Vehicles, Less Pollution, Stable Climate
THE BIG QUESTION: What do YOU want to do about human-made climate change?
- Tax it?
- Study it?
- Fix it?
Since 2007 I have been studying safe, reliable, car-friendly methods of fixing the Earth’s climate.
Climate scientists have put together a compelling case for the total elimination of unmitigated CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption. This is an essential first step toward stabilising global average temperatures, sea levels, and the polar ice caps.
Achieving that goal is an engineering problem. Science can tell us what’s happening, and science can tell us when we have solved the problem. But when it comes to designing, developing and building effective solutions, we need to roll up our metaphorical sleeves and get stuck into some practical engineering.
I am especially interested in climate-stable replacements for gasoline (petrol), diesel, and kerosene (jet fuel). Liquid fuels have been essential to the development of the modern liberal democracy, with its strong emphasis on middle class suburban living. I am sure that alternatives such as hydrogen and batteries will find niche market applications in the climate-stable future. However, no alternative energy system can hold a candle to liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Liquid fuels are just too good.
The Global Prognosis
Taking a holistic view of the world economy, I have found that climate-stable petrol, diesel, and jet fuel in 2080 will be at least as affordable as conventional fuels are today. The important technologies are described in my 2010 book, From Smoke to Mirrors. New Zealand’s biggest and best local opportunity is bioenergy. Most foreign countries will exploit a different mix of resources. Key Point: The underlying resources are more than adequate to fully satisfy humanity’s appetite for independent personal transportation (cars!).
My global DriveSolar vision shows how crude oil in the future can be carbon-negative. The more you drive, the more you cool the climate. More importantly, carbon-negative crude oil production has the potential to stabilise global sea levels.
DriveSolar is a work in progress. I’ve posted a rough description here, together with some relevant posts from my mothballed blog, Techogeny. This really is a rough draft so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.)
[UPDATE, 21 Jan 2017: The drivesolar paper now includes the arithmetic behind my assertion that it is possible to calculate a sustainable rate of methane and nitrous oxide emissions (Appendix 3).]
Climate-Stable Electricity for New Zealand
I’ve long suspected that carbon-neutralising New Zealand’s electricity supply won’t be difficult. Some miserable naysayers say we’ll have trouble satisfying peak demand. That shows a lack of imagination.
A February 2013 analysis by three Canterbury-based engineers shows the way. Ian Mason and his colleagues crunched the numbers. Peak generating capacity won’t be a problem.
Their presentation clearly shows that New Zealand can build a fully climate-stable power grid using existing well-proven technology. Download their presentation, Transitioning to a 100% renewable electricity system for New Zealand.
From 2011 until 2017 I presented a lecture and tutorial at Victoria University of Wellington, showing how New Zealand can totally replace fossil liquid fuels with climate-stable alternatives, without inconveniencing New Zealand motorists.
The lecture us based on information in my 2010 book, From Smoke to Mirrors. As for the DriveSolar analysis, I focussed on worst case (or “marginal”) fuel prices. I looked only at technologies that are capable of satisfying total demand with good EROI.
And here you can download some discussion notes for the tutorial.
If you’ve taken ESCI201 and you have any questions about my lecture, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Download a sample of From Smoke to Mirrors