Monday, November 30, 2015

Climate change: Is this the last chance? Will we produce our way out of this with innovation?


The “best” news on the climate front as the summit begins in Paris (a “let’s make a deal” session) may be that Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are teaming up to invest in “zero-carbon” technologies.  The Tech Crunch story is rather non-specific, link here.

The Wall Street Journal, in a story by Guatam Naik, reports that many scientists believe that the 2-degree Celsius limit is somewhat arbitrary and not supported by enough peer research, link here.

And Chris Mooney in the Washington Post writes that the 2 degree limit (the “magic number” from baseball parlance, relative to the pre-industrial world) may become attainable only with technology not yet invented, link here.   The old 1.5 seems unattainable.  The “new” technology probably means taking existing carbon out of the air. Mooney also discusses incompletely assessed issues with permafrost and even

But it could include improvements in auto technology, eliminating all carbon dioxide emissions with algae, as proposed by Param Jaggi (Nov. 24).

The accepted prediction for sea level rise is about 2.3 meters per degree Celsius, or about 7 feet for the 2-degree standard, Reuters story by Erik Kirschbaum. That’s enough to cause significant but probably manageable problems for buildings in coastal areas of major US cities (most of all Miami, as well as, for example, some of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn).  Virginia’s second tallest mountain would shrink from 4010 feet to only 4003.

How will this affect the way people live in future generations?  If you can really make a zero-emission car (whether by Jaggi’s idea or with all-electric, and a sufficient infrastructure of rapid charging stations – again more innovation), maybe not that much.  Solitary, feline lifestyles like mine (and value systems) though could well be challenged if we don’t.

But the biggest problems will be political and international:  around the world, many of the people living below 10 feet above sea level are poor, and are punished for the consumption of richer people in previous generations in other countries.  Imagine the ideological conflict that can result.
 

 
Another question is, if there were ever a major hit on the power grid (even from a solar storm as well as terrorism) what would the effect be from repairing the infrastructure?
 
NBC News has President Obama's speech, and the UN objected to its length, trying to cut him off. But the president continued like a chatterbox, link. He is not alone. 

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