10 Takeaways On What We Want To Do & Not Do To Save The Planet

We’ve got had all-time file temperatures each for the final 12 months and this previous July. We’ve had file warmth waves within the Center East and the Southwest US. The fires this 12 months in Hawaii and in 2018 in California have been probably the most harmful in over 100 years. In the previous couple of years, hurricanes like Ian in Florida final 12 months and typhoons like Nanmadol in Japan final 12 months, pushed by hotter ocean temperatures, have turn into extra harmful. With these observations, it’s getting ever tougher to argue that our planet shouldn’t be getting hotter. It’s additionally changing into increasingly more apparent that the one clarification for a trigger is people burning huge quantities of fossil fuels. This heating is killing individuals and is melting the polar ice caps, which is able to elevate the peak of the ocean. Extra individuals will die as coastal areas are flooded.

See 10 takeaways beneath on what we have to do and never do to avoid wasting the planet. Expertise is a humorous factor — it might transfer ahead at solely a snail’s tempo or transfer ahead as fast as lightning. It took over 100 years for battery electrical energy storage to enhance sufficient past lead-acid batteries to offer sensible energy for laptop computer computer systems, smartphones, and electrical autos. It took over 7,000 lithium-ion batteries about AA measurement developed for laptops and cell telephones to energy the primary Tesla EV. The chemistry within the AA measurement and barely bigger cells in new Teslas has improved, however the building of the batteries is sort of the identical at this time.

Within the science-fiction film Star Wars, we see the Millennium Falcon spaceship fly off into house from lifeless cease. NASA has been working for over 70 years on house planes just like the X-43A in direction of a rocket ship that may takeoff from a runway, land again at that runway, and be able to fly once more quickly like a industrial airliner. The house shuttle confirmed you can fly in from orbit and land on a runway, however NASA remains to be nowhere near a rocket that can take off from a runway and fly into orbit. Alternatively, as a freshman in mechanical engineering at UW Madison in 1958, we have been utilizing slide guidelines for calculations. At the moment nobody had the slightest clue concerning the unimaginable advances that have been to return over the following 50 years in digital computer systems, digital pictures, and video.

Relating to saving our planet, we will’t depend on fast technological advances like we have now seen with computer systems. As for the know-how we have to save planet, we will solely rely on know-how which is already confirmed and is economical.

1. Cease subsidizing fossil fuels.

It makes little sense to institute a carbon tax to disincentivize burning fossil gasoline (see merchandise 2) when you find yourself incentivizing their use by subsidizing them. This received’t be straightforward. Because the world switches away from fossil fuels, the fossil gasoline corporations may have trillions of {dollars} of stranded property. You could be certain they are going to do every part they’ll to repay politicians to proceed the subsidies

2. Institute a carbon tax on all burning of fossil fuels. There is similar pushback right here from fossil gasoline corporations.

3. Generate clear electrical energy utilizing solely wind, water, & photo voltaic (See Mark Z. Jacobson’s work.) Hydropower, wind energy, and solar energy are 100% emission free, require no gasoline whereas working, and are probably the most economical technique of electrical energy technology. As a part of this, we should always overbuild wind and photo voltaic for mild wind, cloudy skies, and low solar angle conditions.

4. Construct out electrical transmission strains to maneuver energy from sources to customers. HVDC strains can be utilized to maneuver energy from windy areas to becalmed areas (additionally, to some extent, from sunup to sunset areas).

5) Construct pumped hydro and battery storage to bridge photo voltaic and wind low-power intervals. That is solely in areas the place present confirmed know-how is missing to make the soar from fossil to scrub fuels. Pumped hydro works nice, however it takes a very long time to construct and works solely the place there may be ample elevation distinction. Chemical batteries are improbable for fast response to variation in energy demand however can’t provide energy for days or perhaps weeks. Novel battery applied sciences like utilizing compressed air might be able to fill the hole.

6) Don’t construct new nuclear energy vegetation to generate electrical energy. (See Mark Z. Jacobson’s work.) They’re too harmful (leaks and proliferation), too costly (each price and required authorities insurance coverage/subsidies), and the timelines are too lengthy (it takes greater than 10 years to construct a nuclear plant). Additionally, within the US, we have now but to plot a option to retailer nuclear waste and it’s problematic even in international locations like France the place they’re utilizing one of the best technological strategies doable.

7) Electrify every part (See Mark Z. Jacobson’s work.)

7a) Use 90% environment friendly electrical motors to transform electrical vitality into mechanical vitality as a substitute of manufacturing mechanical vitality with gasoline and diesel engines.

7b) Use 90% environment friendly batteries to energy these motors for all floor transportation (besides railroads), all short-haul plane, all short-distance ocean transport, all industrial use, energy instruments, leisure use, and many others., and many others.

7c) Electrify all railroads with overhead wires and pantographs on engines utilizing battery vehicles to bridge hard-to-electrify tunnels and bridges. This course of is properly underway in Europe and China. Aside from the Acela high-speed passenger trains from Washington, DC, to Boston and main metropolis commuter rail and subways, electrification of railroads in North America has not even begun. It’s going to take authorities intervention and funding to make this occur right here.

7d) Use electrical warmth pumps as a substitute of burning fossil fuels to warmth and funky air and warmth water in all buildings.

7e) Electrify metal and concrete making. Scrap metal could be recycled utilizing electrical arc furnaces, however making metal from iron ore utilizing electrical energy is problematic. Concrete making utilizing electrical energy can be problematic.

8) Don’t use hydrogen to energy something! Hydrogen is an vitality dense gasoline, however hydrogen technology and use are inefficient — plus, transportation, storage, and use of hydrogen are all extraordinarily troublesome. It’s going to by no means be sensible to make use of it for something, together with transoceanic plane and long-distance transport.

9) Carbon seize and sequestration (CCS) is extraordinarily troublesome! It’s one other know-how like house planes that takeoff and land on runways — it might by no means be price efficient, and not less than not within the foreseeable future! Even for those who can seize carbon from the air or from an influence plant utilizing a copious quantity of energy, everlasting sequestration could also be inconceivable. It could simply leak out of the earth once more. Carbon is already sequestered — it’s referred to as coal and oil. Simply go away it there. It’s way more economical to not produce CO2 within the first place. We have to make enormous investments in clear wind and solar energy. Solely when we have now reached diminishing returns from wind and solar energy investments does it make sense to spend cash on CCS. Since CO2 will linger within the environment for a whole bunch of years, sooner or later, we’ll in all probability want to search out severe CCS and geoengineering options.

10) Use biofuels created from agricultural waste to energy transoceanic plane and long-distance transport. Present batteries will not be sufficiently vitality dense for long-distance transport and long-range plane. Propeller-driven plane will not be quick sufficient for transoceanic flight.

11) Bonus takeaway! The one place we’ll get protected, clear, cheap energy from nuclear fusion for the following 100+ years is from the solar.

Featured picture: Basic Blue Marble. Made by Reto Stockli who I introduced from Switzerland to work in my Lab. NASA Goddard Area Flight Middle.

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