Thursday, January 22, 2009

The bottomline

I am still not convinced of the degree of potential problems global warming could cause in the next generations. For many regions of the world the warming will be beneficial and globally the increase in precipitation will improve the lot for people in most of the world. If we are concerned about stopping warming, we have some clear limits to consider in the process.

With this global slowdown, there are numerous people expressing happiness at the reduced rate CO2 will be emitted into the atmosphere. I saw a letter to this effect in the Times Colonist today. Note, this is not a reduction in CO2, simply a slow down in how fast emissions are increasing.

Clearly there is a limit to how much CO2 and other greenhouse gasses the atmosphere can contain before we do have a dramatic changes to our climate. The idea of slowing the growth of greenhouse gasses is a waste of time and energy because it is not going to make any difference.

If this is an issue that matters, the long term goal has to be a defacto "budget" of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. At the moment we are have a large debt in the sky and rising servicing costs for this this GHG debt. We are running a deficit each year at the moment and increasingly so each year.

Eventually we have to become not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative. We have to pull out more CO2 from the sky than is put out each year.

Realistically the only solution is to tax GHG emissions and then to spend all this money on carbon capture and storage. At the moment the tax would not raise enough to make things carbon negative, but over time as carbon capture and storage gets cheaper, the amount of GHG captured will be more than what is emitted.

If there were an open bidding process from the government for capture and storage of carbon - a call for carbon - and the government would buy the cheapest 12 000 000 tonnes in BC, there would be a large number of companies bid on this and offer to do it cheaply. The first round may not be as cheap as the future, but eventually the prices will fall as the technologies develop.

12 000 000 tonnes in BC works out to about 20% of what each person contributes in CO2 per year. We will be collecting enough through the carbon tax in a few years to fund the capture and storage of that amount of CO2.

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