Few people can envision a world with a greater economic shutdown than what we have seen in the COVID-19 Pandemic. The bright side of this unprecedented collapse is the world has seen skies over industrialized cities cleaned up to a degree many thought impossible.
It is an undeniable fact that COVID19 shutdown has shown us what is possible and that is the problem.
COVID19 Pandemic Cleared the Air
On the up side take a look at this excellent two minute video of pollution in cities before and after COVID:
The most reasonable estimates for CO2 reduction during the time of COVID19 are a massive 6% decline. That sounds great, so what’s the problem?
The problem is that the Paris Climate Accord REQUIRES a 7.6% decline in CO2 emissions COMPOUNDED for EACH year of the next decade. That means the world would require a FURTHER 25% decline in CO2 this year and every year on top what we have with COVID.
To be blunt, that just is not going to happen. So what can we do?
Is All Hope Lost?
Until now, I was hopeful that through a combination of technical innovation, political leadership (read: regulation) and public awareness, that citizens around the globe would make something close to the Paris Climate Change Accord become reality.
Most people assume the numbers presented in that deal were tougher than what was actually required because scientists and politicians have learned from decades of failure that despite good intentions, humans just will not fully achieve targets that cost them money in the short run.
However, the pandemic has made it abundantly clear that the targets are pie in the sky (pun intended).
There is simply no way that our modern society will operate at levels anywhere near the COVID shutdown. It is called a shutdown for a reason and citizens simply will not stand for economic collapse today to offset a global catastrophe in 50 years.
There appear to be but three options:
- Hope the scientists are wrong about their projections.
- This seems to be what the majority of the worlds population is doing
- Prepare to live with a post 2 degree increase in global temperature world and start to mitigate the predictable damages
- Today the US Navy is raising the level of its docks to deal with rising water levels
- Permanently depopulate low lying islands
- Change crops that are being grown to best use the soil and temperature that will be in your region in the coming decades
- Start investing giant sums into decarbonization technologies
The first two items are obvious and have been discussed at length in the media. The last point, however, has not received much attention.
Decarbonization Can and Is Being Done Today
There are many ways to decrease the amount of CO2 (and other pollutants) including:
Negative Emissions Power Plants:
Negative emissions power plants burn things that are good at soaking up CO2; Things like switch grass, bamboo and certain type of trees are our friend. When we burn them their CO2 is released but we can capture it and store it in old oil reservoirs
“…Both Saskatchewan and Alberta are ideally positioned for early stage adoption of BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). Negative emission production of electricity using biomass feedstock with permanent isolation of captured carbon in deep saline aquifers is a real business. We have the experts, the engineers, the climate, the surface area, the pipelines and most importantly the subsurface saline reservoirs that other places just don’t have.
Expand Existing Factories that Pull Carbon Out of the Air
Yes, these exist. Watch this Bill Gates backed business in action from British Columbia, Canada:
A New Course of Action, NOW!
The fact is humanity is not going to recycle or reduce its way out of this mess.
These types of innovations show above are already in operation and combined with common sense reduction in CO2 generation by switching from Coal to Natural Gas fired power plants (or better yet nuclear!), using electric vehicles instead of internal combustion vehicles and other gains in efficiency can make the impossible, possible.