10 Takeaways On What We Need To Do & Not Do To Save The Planet

We’ve got had all-time report temperatures each for the final 12 months and this previous July. We’ve had report warmth waves within the Center East and the Southwest US. The fires this yr in Hawaii and in 2018 in California have been essentially the most damaging in over 100 years. In the previous few years, hurricanes like Ian in Florida final yr and typhoons like Nanmadol in Japan final yr, pushed by hotter ocean temperatures, have change into extra damaging. With these observations, it’s getting ever tougher to argue that our planet just isn’t getting hotter. It’s additionally turning into an increasing number of apparent that the one clarification for a trigger is people burning large quantities of fossil fuels. This heating is killing folks and is melting the polar ice caps, which can elevate the peak of the ocean. Extra folks will die as coastal areas are flooded.

See 10 takeaways under on what we have to do and never do to save lots of the planet. Know-how is a humorous factor — it might transfer ahead at solely a snail’s tempo or transfer ahead as fast as lightning. It took over 100 years for battery electrical energy storage to enhance sufficient past lead-acid batteries to offer sensible energy for laptop computer computer systems, smartphones, and electrical automobiles. It took over 7,000 lithium-ion batteries about AA measurement developed for laptops and cell telephones to energy the primary Tesla EV. The chemistry within the AA measurement and barely bigger cells in new Teslas has improved, however the development of the batteries is nearly the identical at present.

Within the science-fiction film Star Wars, we see the Millennium Falcon spaceship fly off into house from lifeless cease. NASA has been working for over 70 years on house planes just like the X-43A in direction of a rocket ship that might takeoff from a runway, land again at that runway, and be able to fly once more quickly like a business airliner. The house shuttle confirmed that you may fly in from orbit and land on a runway, however NASA continues to be nowhere near a rocket that may take off from a runway and fly into orbit. However, as a freshman in mechanical engineering at UW Madison in 1958, we have been utilizing slide guidelines for calculations. At the moment nobody had the slightest clue in regards to the unbelievable advances that have been to come back over the subsequent 50 years in digital computer systems, digital images, and video.

In relation to saving our planet, we are able to’t depend on fast technological advances like we now have seen with computer systems. As for the know-how we have to save planet, we are able to solely depend on know-how which is already confirmed and is economical.

1. Cease subsidizing fossil fuels.

It makes little sense to institute a carbon tax to disincentivize burning fossil gasoline (see merchandise 2) if you find yourself incentivizing their use by subsidizing them. This gained’t be simple. Because the world switches away from fossil fuels, the fossil gasoline corporations may have trillions of {dollars} of stranded property. You could be certain they may do every little thing they will to repay politicians to proceed the subsidies

2. Institute a carbon tax on all burning of fossil fuels. There is identical pushback right here from fossil gasoline corporations.

3. Generate clear electrical energy utilizing solely wind, water, & photo voltaic (See Mark Z. Jacobson’s work.) Hydropower, wind energy, and solar energy are 100% emission free, require no gasoline whereas working, and are essentially the most economical methodology of electrical energy technology. As a part of this, we must always overbuild wind and photo voltaic for mild wind, cloudy skies, and low solar angle conditions.

4. Construct out electrical transmission traces to maneuver energy from sources to customers. HVDC traces can be utilized to maneuver energy from windy areas to becalmed areas (additionally, to some extent, from sunup to sunset areas).

5) Construct pumped hydro and battery storage to bridge photo voltaic and wind low-power durations. That is solely in areas the place present confirmed know-how is missing to make the leap from fossil to scrub fuels. Pumped hydro works nice, nevertheless it takes a very long time to construct and works solely the place there may be enough elevation distinction. Chemical batteries are incredible for fast response to variation in energy demand however can’t provide energy for days or perhaps weeks. Novel battery applied sciences like utilizing compressed air could possibly fill the hole.

6) Don’t construct new nuclear energy crops to generate electrical energy. (See Mark Z. Jacobson’s work.) They’re too harmful (leaks and proliferation), too costly (each value and required authorities insurance coverage/subsidies), and the timelines are too lengthy (it takes greater than 10 years to construct a nuclear plant). Additionally, within the US, we now have but to plot a option to retailer nuclear waste and it’s problematic even in international locations like France the place they’re utilizing the very best technological strategies attainable.

7) Electrify every little thing (See Mark Z. Jacobson’s work.)

7a) Use 90% environment friendly electrical motors to transform electrical power into mechanical power as an alternative of manufacturing mechanical power with fuel and diesel engines.

7b) Use 90% environment friendly batteries to energy these motors for all floor transportation (besides railroads), all short-haul plane, all short-distance ocean delivery, all industrial use, energy instruments, leisure use, and so on., and so on.

7c) Electrify all railroads with overhead wires and pantographs on engines utilizing battery automobiles to bridge hard-to-electrify tunnels and bridges. This course of is effectively underway in Europe and China. Aside from the Acela high-speed passenger trains from Washington, DC, to Boston and main metropolis commuter rail and subways, electrification of railroads in North America has not even begun. It is going to take authorities intervention and funding to make this occur right here.

7d) Use electrical warmth pumps as an alternative of burning fossil fuels to warmth and funky air and warmth water in all buildings.

7e) Electrify metal and concrete making. Scrap metal could be recycled utilizing electrical arc furnaces, however making metal from iron ore utilizing electrical energy is problematic. Concrete making utilizing electrical energy can also be problematic.

8) Don’t use hydrogen to energy something! Hydrogen is an power dense gasoline, however hydrogen technology and use are inefficient — plus, transportation, storage, and use of hydrogen are all extraordinarily troublesome. It is going to by no means be sensible to make use of it for something, together with transoceanic plane and long-distance delivery.

9) Carbon seize and sequestration (CCS) is extraordinarily troublesome! It’s one other know-how like house planes that takeoff and land on runways — it might by no means be value efficient, and not less than not within the foreseeable future! Even in case you can seize carbon from the air or from an influence plant utilizing a copious quantity of energy, everlasting sequestration could also be not possible. It could simply leak out of the earth once more. Carbon is already sequestered — it’s referred to as coal and oil. Simply go away it there. It’s far more economical to not produce CO2 within the first place. We have to make large investments in clear wind and solar energy. Solely when we now have reached diminishing returns from wind and solar energy investments does it make sense to spend cash on CCS. Since CO2 will linger within the ambiance for a whole lot of years, in some unspecified time in the future, we are going to most likely want to seek out critical CCS and geoengineering options.

10) Use biofuels produced from agricultural waste to energy transoceanic plane and long-distance delivery. Present batteries will not be sufficiently power dense for long-distance delivery and long-range plane. Propeller-driven plane will not be quick sufficient for transoceanic flight.

11) Bonus takeaway! The one place we are going to get secure, clear, cheap energy from nuclear fusion for the subsequent 100+ years is from the solar.

Featured picture: Traditional Blue Marble. Made by Reto Stockli who I introduced from Switzerland to work in my Lab. NASA Goddard House Flight Middle.

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