Solutions for global warming - part 2
A 10 Point Plan to Mitigate Some of the Ravages of Global Warming
Anonymous - August 10, 2008
6. Couple Hydrogen Fuel Combustion to Zero Emission Energy Sources
Hydrogen gas can be used as fuel for combustion, producing only water vapor emissions. However, another energy source is required somewhere, in order to generate hydrogen. Oxidation of reduced (i.e., zero-valent) forms of metals, such as metallic aluminum, can provide that energy. After the zero-valent metal is used to generate hydrogen, the spent (i.e., oxidized) metal can be restored to a high-energy, zero-valent state through energy-intensive metal reduction. If the energy used to produce zero-valent metal emits no greenhouse gases ? geothermal, hydroelectric, wind, solar, nuclear power, or carbon fuel with complete carbon dioxide capture and sequestration ? there will be no greenhouse gas emissions occurring due to use of hydrogen fuel. Oxidized metal could be taken to zero emission facilities for the energy-intensive recycling of the metal back to a zero-valent state, for reuse as portable stored energy to make hydrogen fuel. By coupling hydrogen combustion to zero emission energy sources, such as the geothermal fields of Iceland, or perhaps the next generation of zero emission coal-fired power plants in the US, hydrogen can be used as fuel without emitting, either directly or indirectly, any greenhouse gases.
7. Plant Trees for Cooling and to Protect Soil and Water
Trees can have an important local cooling effect in populated areas, where the shading from trees can reduce energy consumption in the summer. Evaporative cooling, as trees transpire water through their leaves, continues through the dry season, as trees draw deeper water even while the surface soil is dry. Tree planting is essential to combat global warming, particularly reforestation efforts where forests have been cleared. Trees regulate water quality in rivers. Rain intercepted by trees in the wet season continues supplying water to streams during the dry season. The litter layer of dead leaves on the forest floor acts like a protective sponge over the soil surface. Rain is temporarily stored in the leaf litter during the most intense storms, giving it time to infiltrate into the soil and recharge underground aquifers. One of the more serious consequences of deforestation has been the loss of tree leaf litter as soil surface protection, with consequent soil erosion, sediment-laden runoff, and inadequate infiltration to replenish aquifers. Rivers flood with muddy water when it rains, only to dry up later. Efforts to plant trees in these deforested watersheds have multiple environmental and social benefits, including direct local and global impact to mitigate some of the ravages of climate change.
8. Plant Tannin-rich Woody Perennials to Maximize Carbon Sequestration
Long-term sequestration of carbon dioxide can be accomplished by ensuring that organic carbon produced by photosynthesis does not decompose (or combust) to release carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere. Whereas wetlands sequester carbon due to waterlogged, low-oxygen conditions, other ecosystems sequester carbon by producing organic matter that is highly resistant to decomposition. The convergent evolution of tannin-rich woody perennial plant communities has occurred on highly leached and infertile soils throughout the world. In extreme cases, such as fern thickets in rain forests, plant litter piles up to a depth of a meter or more, despite warm, wet, well-drained conditions to favor rapid decomposition. Due to its exceptionally high tannin content, the litter is unpalatable to detritivores, and difficult for microbial decomposers to degrade. The raw humus litter layer that accumulates can contain significantly more (sequestered) carbon than the live biomass, and can be vital for storing and retaining nutrient capital, protecting the soil against erosion, and absorbing water to maximize infiltration and minimize runoff. Nitrogen cycling in tannin-rich ecosystems is regulated in such a manner that losses are minimized and nutrient availability is synchronized with uptake capacity. Most nitrogen in tannin-rich leaf litter is immobilized as protein-tannin complexes, does not easily release ammonium, and is rarely oxidized to nitrate. Whereas ammonium and nitrate can easily transform to forms that leave the ecosystem, including loss as nitrous oxide emissions, preservation of nitrogen in protein-tannin complexes minimizes losses.
As we shift away from using crops that are dependent on being supplied with chemical fertilizers, nutrient cycling dynamics of these natural ecosystems can serve as models for selection of appropriate agroecosystems. Particularly in high rainfall areas, where tannin-rich litter provides benefits for protecting soil and water quality, we may want to select agroecosystems, forest and rangeland management practices that mimic the carbon sequestration dynamics of tannin-rich woody perennial plant communities. As regulators of organic matter decomposition, tannins can be utilized to mitigate global warming.
9. Abolish Public and Private Support for Bogus Biofuels
A terrible tragedy now in progress is the clearing of tropical rain forests for biofuel, such as plantations used to grow palm oil biodiesel. Carbon ?offsets? and other incentives for substituting biofuel for fossil fuel are very profitable. The greenhouse gas emissions associated with clearing rain forest exceed, by an order of magnitude or two, any global warming benefit gained from biofuel production. Even if it could reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, and even where it could be argued that the rain forest was previously cleared for other purposes, the use of that land now for palm oil biodiesel production makes it unavailable to produce needed food or fiber. Corn ethanol is another biofuel that has had unanticipated and severe adverse impacts. Global food markets have been chaotically disrupted, while greenhouse gas emissions associated with corn ethanol fuel are at least doubled, compared to use of pure fossil fuel in our vehicles. Fossil fuel, and its associated carbon dioxide emission, is required to produce nitrogen fertilizer, power farm equipment, transport corn to distilleries, process corn into ethanol, and transport ethanol to petroleum refineries to be mixed into fuels. Carbon dioxide is also emitted from soil organic matter decomposition, and the loss of soil organic matter often exceeds the input of crop residues and root turnover. Maximum corn yield requires using breeds that produce relatively few roots, relying instead on being supplied with chemical fertilizer. These high yield breeds can allocate the product of their photosynthesis into fruits, rather than the large root mass that is required to derive adequate nutrition from unfertilized soil. The low rate of organic matter input to soil through root turnover is not enough to replenish organic matter being lost to decomposition. Record high yields have been accompanied by a loss of soil organic matter, and this is an additional net release of carbon dioxide associated with corn ethanol production. Summing up the carbon dioxide emitted for fertilizer, fuel for corn/ethanol production, processing, and transport, and soil carbon loss, it is at least equal to the biofuel carbon content. Corn ethanol is promoted as a carbon ?neutral? biofuel, although at least two tons of carbon dioxide are emitted ? one during corn and ethanol production, and another during ethanol combustion, whereas only one ton would be emitted by using fossil fuel, rather than corn ethanol. Economic incentives encourage continued growth in corn ethanol production, despite very dubious global warming benefits, and the tragic human consequences of its impact on food prices.
10. Create New Inland Seas for Major Sea Level Adjustment
A truly catastrophic rise in sea level is possible, if large glaciers slip and slide into the ocean, rather than melting up on land. It may become necessary to remove massive volumes of seawater from the ocean as rapidly as possible. One way to accomplish this could be to transfer seawater from the ocean to inland seas. A large pumping station and dam across the Strait of Bosphorus could make it possible to raise the Black Sea and lower the global sea level. The Qattara Depression, the Afar Depression, and the Salton Trough are among the deserts that are below sea level and somewhat near the ocean. Further inland, the Caspian Sea area has enormous holding capacity for excess seawater. The transformation of desert depressions into inland seas could provide major sea level adjustment, if needed, as well as generate energy, provide evaporative cooling, carbon dioxide sequestration, increased cloud cover and rainfall, and productive new fisheries