Thursday, June 30, 2005

peak oil saves the day

Unintended Consequences The Stinkin' Desert Post

Cleaner air, air that has fewer particulates and aerosols sounds like an unalloyed good. But climate researchers modeling the effect of particulates and aerosols on sunlight absorption have found a serious side effect of cleaner air: warmer temperatures a-coming. From New Scientist:

Global warming looks set to be much worse than previously forecast, according to new research. Ironically, the crucial evidence is how little warming there has been so far.

Three top climate researchers claim that the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere should have warmed the world more than they have. The reason they have not, they say, is that the warming is being masked by sun-blocking smoke, dust and other polluting particles put into the air by human activity.

But they warn that in future this protection will lessen due to controls on pollution. Their best guess is that, as the mask is removed, temperatures will warm by at least 6°C by 2100. That is substantially above the current predictions of 1.5 to 4.5°C.


So, 6°C warming is not good. I realize this is somewhat speculative.

It is also absurd, in that we are running a big, uncontrolled carbon experiment on our planet.

Thank goodness for peak oil. Maybe the decline in available fuel will save us from REALLY messing things up.

9 Comments:

At 3:19 PM, June 30, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree that particulates in the air will lesson as I believe the world will turn more and more to coal as the bounty of cheap, easy to extract oil dries up. Maybe the US will burn its coal all nice and clean (yeah...right) but there will be a lot of people burning a lot of coal worldwide (my brain is sending me a vague message that I once read of China having a large coal reserve...but I don't recall for sure).

 
At 8:55 PM, June 30, 2005, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

I recall reading some pieces in Science News which talked about serious dimming around Chinese cities due to smoke; agricultural productivity was badly affected due to the lack of light.

I think monkeygrinder is mostly right here.  Peak oil isn't going to save the day by itself, but it's going to shake the established way of doing things hard enough that change will become much less difficult.  The biggest problem is going to be directing that change toward the least carbon-intensive technologies.

This also might be closer than we think.  If we start using something like the zinc cycle to capture solar energy and derive the carbon from biomass and municipal solid waste, we could wind up carbon-neutral.  If we captured the CO2 product of such a plant and disposed of it via e.g. deep-well injection, the energy system would be carbon negative.

Something to think about.

 
At 9:23 PM, June 30, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Yeah - as long as we are running the Big Experiment, I have absolutely no complaint against carbonating defunct oil wells. (refreshing slurm!). The worst that can happen is that it flows back into the atmosphere too quickly, where it would be anyways if it WASN"T injected into the ground. If we can interr some of this stuff for even 200 years, methane breaks down in the atmosphere, a lot of the carbon dioxide breaks down, we have a "shot" at getting back to a normal carbon cycle.

Also, specifically on Coal, there have been some rumblings lately that total producable amounts have been overstated.

Nonetheless, kind of a catch twennytwo. I think for all new plants we should insist on top notch scrubbers, and then work our way down to the older plants.

China wants to build 500 coal plants.

 
At 9:37 AM, July 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we captured the CO2 product of such a plant and disposed of it via e.g. deep-well injection,

Gee...what a GREAT idea! Lets use MORE energy to 'inject' the CO2. Such an action improves the EROEI how?

The 'energy system' may become 'carbon negative' - but why does it matter if the net energy drops below that of PV or a wind machine? Oh wait....isn't the modern wind machine delivering power cheaper than many carbon-based power sources?

If one wishes to 'be rid' of CO2, why not make diamonds, pencil guts, or carbon fibre rather than some 'inject it in the ground' plan?

 
At 9:48 AM, July 02, 2005, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

If you're willing to prove you're minimally serious by giving your question the backing of a Blogger ID, I'm willing to respond to that.

 
At 1:30 PM, July 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're willing to prove you're minimally serious by giving your question the backing of a Blogger ID, I'm willing to respond to that.

Its your argument. If you can't be bothered to answer the question about the EROEI, then don't answer the question. But please, don't 'hide' behind the idea that 'I need your identity' - either the question is a valid question or it is not. You use an identifyer that is 'fake' - unless your parents called you 'engineer poet'.

Because I don't NEED a 'blogger ID' - I've got my own AS number, a block of addresses, and servers. Why should *I* get a 'blogger id'? I have all the resources I want w/o one.

That still leaves the EROEI issue WRT 'injecting CO2'. In addition to other issues like:
What happens over time to the injected CO2?
What happenes when the earth crust moves and the CO2 escapes - thus making a bad situation of the earth moving worse via a release of C02?
I'm sure there are other reasons like the amount of CO2 produced far exceeds the ability to store it in a gas in the crust of the planet, the amount of resources consumed to inject the CO2 are non trival, et la.

But hey, you're the blogger-answer-guy. I'm just someone who thinks the injection idea is flawed and says so. You are the one who doesn't defend the idea.

 
At 1:46 AM, July 05, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

argh.

EROEI on injecting CO2 into the ground is negative, which is irrelevant. It is not an energy producing exercise.

The purpose of injecting CO2 into the ground is to allay the effects of CO2 being in the atmosphere.

If you're saying a coal plant would become an energy negative proposition if the energy cost to pump captured carbon underground were added in - I'd be suspicious and I'd want to see the data.

 
At 7:08 AM, July 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

EROEI on injecting CO2 into the ground is negative, which is irrelevant. It is not an energy producing exercise.

The purpose of injecting CO2 into the ground is to allay the effects of CO2 being in the atmosphere.


If the energy cost of producing a watt includes transport of the fuel source, creating the machines to take the fuel and convert it to a watt, then why does CO2's cost get a free pass?

Just because CO2 gets a free pass already?

 
At 6:57 PM, July 05, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

I don't think pumping gas underground is a particuarly expensive proposition, but I am open to data.

There are some new designs out there for carbon energy plants (coal) that trap the CO2 right at the source.

I'll get into this more down the line.

 

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