Early in December, hundreds of politicians and tens of thousands of devotees, from 196 countries, will convene in Paris spending up to a billion dollars to carry on with what has become the world’s longest lived climate change event/debate ad nauseam.
The twenty-first Conference Of Parties, aka COP21, on climate change.
As in the preceding 20 COP meetings once more sweeping pre-meeting PR proclamations/chatter are being pumped out that ‘agreements’ will be created to constrain human influence on the climate. But before putting that bottle of champagne on ice for post-meeting celebrations remember to temper your enthusiasm with at least a few sobering scientific realities that might eschew the effectiveness of even the most ambitious and costly emissions reduction plans that are being discussed, nay proclaimed. The technology propose herein is so low in cost and so effective that it may become the ‘killer app’ amongst climate change technologies.
The first brutal reality about our anthropogenic (human caused) carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas of greatest concern, is that it accumulates in the atmosphere and remains there for centuries as it is slowly absorbed by the oceans and to a much smaller degree plants on land. This means the proposed modest reductions in tomorrow’s emissions of CO2 will merely delay the cataclysmic rise in atmospheric concentration but will not prevent it. But far worse and what no one seems to be willing to discuss openly and honestly in the world, save this author, is the impact of yesterday’s CO2, the nearly trillion tonnes of CO2 already emitted into our air (mostly post world war one) which has barely begun to equilibrate by being dissolved into the oceans and converted into green plant life.
But even if we do close a blind eye to yesterday’s trillion tonne planetary lethal overdose of CO2 and focus exclusively on crafting political and economic world governance institutions to take in and redistribute trillions of dollars each year to tend to ‘ tomorrows CO2’ it will be too little too late, or rather too much too late. And even if global emissions might be reduced by a heroic 20 percent, as the most strident optimists hope to diminish todays “business as usual emissions” for the next 50 years, we might only forestall the chemical/mathematical doubling of the concentration of CO2 in our air by a mere 10 years, moving the ‘doubled down dooms day’ from 2065 to 2075.
More sobering and horrifyingly realistic the presently touted ‘unconditional national commitments’ promised by countries who have been releasing teasing statements leading up to the Paris meeting are projected to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions through 2030 by an average of a mere 3% below the business-as-usual average rise of 8%. But don’t forget the real problem of today’s overdose of CO2 is yesterday’s CO2 not tomorrows. It works like this.
Suppose a patient is delivered to a hospital emergency room having been administered a LETHAL overdose of a dangerous chemical. The emergency doctors talk with the patient who is clearly showing all the signs of poisonous demise. They hold a Conference Of the Patient, let’s call it COP1.
Via this COP1 session the doctors decide via consensus that instead of administering a controversial antidote which is hotly debated as either being harmless or ineffective but certainly costly the patient should be referred to the psychiatric ward of the hospital for counselling on why the patient should NOT take a second lethal dose.
The patient, untreated, though not un-debated, is sure to die but they will die in some other ward of the hospital where the cause of death can be blamed on the patient not responding to the care being offered… ‘don’t take a second lethal dose.’ Sadly the patient is so very unique and important to us all as her name is Mother Nature.
The antidote is at hand that will keep her, Mother Natuer, alive if not perfectly well for centuries. We must start her on it immediately and argue in the decades to follow!
So following in the context of the brainless current norm of only addressing tomorrows CO2 instead of yesterday’s already lethal dose of CO2 here’s some context on why better ideas are needed.
How bad are things?
Based on many scenarios used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global annual per capita emissions would need to fall from today’s five metric tons to less than one ton by 2075. What does that mean to you? Do the math, it means that FOUR DAYS out of every 5 you have to live without the use of any fossil fuel energy at all! So if you presently drive to work every workday you need to buy some great walking shoes so that you can walk to work 4 days a week.+
- NO cooking 4 days out of 5, only raw home-grown foods.
- NO Internet or television or for that matter light after dark 4 days out of every 5.
- NO home heating in the winter or cooling in the summer 4 days out of 5.
- NO refrigeration, no washers and driers.
The list is long and depressing. It’s not that this is impossible to do, the people of many countries already do this, for example in Haiti, the Sudan, Yemen, and a few others. For those of us in the modern western world our present day annual per capita emissions are on the order of 7-15 tonnes.
Does this begin to make the COP21 ad nausea worse?
Perhaps something else might help settle your stomach.
Fossil fuels which are the source of the already deadly CO2 overdose(s) supply over 80% of the world’s energy today. As we have clearly seen in the past year the PEAK OIL myth has dissipated into the OIL GLUT, are by and large the least expensive fuel for our collective and growing energy habit and are declining in cost not increasing. Fossil fuel technologies are so long and well established that switching to alternatives energy, of which there is neither presently sufficient amounts nor available generation and distribution technology, will take more than the rest of this century to replace fossil fuel if they do. Google’s engineers paint an even more dismal picture on alternative energy saying it simply won’t save us.
With regard to emission of the second deadly dose of CO2 energy efficiency improvements will help, so lets implement as many as possible. Although the human population explosion is growing unabated. If today’s annual per capita emissions of three tons in the ‘developing world’ (read India, China, Pakistan, Africa) grows only very slowly so that by 2050 the GREEN developing world citizens each become responsible for emitting only five tons (70% of European or 50% of North American per capita emissions today), annual global CO2 emissions, tomorrows CO2, would still increase by 60 percent! That is in context more like two additional deadly doses of CO2 compared with all of the yesterday’s historic dose.
The stark realities of scientific fact and population figure out to be that stabilization of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, to say nothing of the administration of the vital antidote for yesterday’s lethal dose of CO2, a feeble prospect. The facts are that yesterday’s already emitted trillion tonne lethal CO2 overdose along with a second equal or larger CO2 lethal dose will be acting upon our most vital and valued earthly occupant, Mother Nature for the remaining of this century and more.
Distress, Dispair, Decisions
Many learned people and countless people world-wide are being driven to distress and despair by the pressing and persistent doom and gloom, your money or your life, proclamations of the climate change cabals and are looking for plausible alternatives that will not cost trillions of dollars each year in ‘carbon taxes.’
For many the only alternative is to reject out of hand the topic entirely and decide not to decide and this is all the will of some higher power who is either infinitely wise or wicked (or heaven forbid…both).
Others propose that Mother Nature isn’t really in danger at all nor are we, only our present comfortable reality and that ‘we’ the collectively ‘royal we’ meaning life on this blue planet will simply adapt with us or without us and it hardly matters which. For the chronic Malthusian malcontents they seem to advocate the ‘without.’
For a few of us, and I am one, there are some things we can do that just might buy us a century or few of in-between time until our technological avarice might be overtaken by our technological prowess.
Here’s the good news and cake!
The oceans that cover 72% of this blue planet are full of life, or they once were. Ocean plant life performs photosynthesis and converts deadly CO2 into life itself. We all have an understanding of this on land we know that pastures of grass used the power of sunlight to convert CO2, water, and nutrients into more grass! Oceans the largest ‘scape’ on this blue planet are filled with ocean pastures that have the capacity to grow more than enough plankton, the grass of ocean pastures, to safely and healthfully convert all of our dangerous anthropogenic CO2 emissions into life itself.
The problem in the oceans is that our ocean pastures are dying, neither from overfishing nor dumping of garbage but from each and every one of us in our fossil fueled lives pouring our 7-15 tonnes of CO2 into the air and ocean every year for the past century (yesterday’s CO2) and surely we are on the road to do so for another century to come (tomorrows CO2).
The most powerful and potent counterforce for CO2 are the green plants on land and in the oceans that will convert CO2 into more green plants. Around the world on land we see this as ‘global greening’ and while this may be good for life living on pastures on land it is deadly for life in the vastly larger ocean pastures. Now here’s the unfortunate twist our super abundant yesterday’s overdose of CO2 is nourishing plants on pastures on land and in Mother Natures ‘Yin & Yang’ manner this spells disaster for ocean pastures which outnumber the land pastures in area and productivity by tenfold or more.
More grass growing means less dust blowing! Good news for the land, terrible news for the oceans.
In short ocean pastures have been undergoing a global drought and diminishment of ocean plant plankton for decades. Just as pastures on land which grow in mineral soil and flourish or perish depending on the gift of rain that blows in from the oceans, ocean pastures live in water and depend on the gift of mineral dust which blows in from the land to survive and flourish or become deserts. Today ocean pastures around the world have become perishing poor pastures as evidenced by the collapse of fish and other sea life. As everyone knows a pasture cannot sustain animal (fish) life unless it is healthy and growing lots of grass/plankton.
The dust has gone missing due to the CO2 from each and every one of us burning our share of hundreds of millions years of fossil carbon in the past 100 years. To say we are overdrawn on our green account is an understatement a million times over. Here’s a paper just published in a major science journal confirming the role of dust in controlling ocean plant life and global CO2.
But the good news is that Mother Nature is offering us a practical, affordable, immediate means to offer penance for our sins of emission. We simply have to give back to her ocean pastures the dust we have and are denying them.
IT JUST WORKS and costs just a penny for our planet.
As evidence for how simple, inexpensive, and immediately effective this is one needn’t believe this requires a rocket scientist. Rather the need is for the most simple minded yet caring stewards, shepherds of our common pastures, our ocean pastures. I have done it in the North Pacific in 2012 where with a small band of associates, from one single fishing boat, we replenished and restored a vital ocean salmon pasture. The proof swam home in the form of the largest numbers of salmon in recorded history. In Alaska the following year the Pink salmon were expected to be caught in a very plentiful abundance and fishers were eager for their share of some 50 million catch they were told by the experts the state would see. Instead 226 million Pink salmon were caught, the largest in all of history.
Similar miraculous returns of salmon were counted all the way down the west coast of North American to the Columbia River that year and the next. This year the offspring of the perhaps 500 million Pink salmon that were sustained on our ocean pasture (most were not caught), that have a 2yr lifespan, that filled the North Pacific returned in a run far exceeding expectations perhaps in the running for one of the top few in history. Further south the longer 4yr life span sockeye salmon which saw a historic rise in step with the restored ocean pasture collapsed back to what some are now saying is the lowest number of fish in all of history in keeping with years of cataclysmic decline of the species.
Ocean pasture stewardship
Since we humans are responsible for destroying life in ocean pastures around the world for decades, we have a responsibility to replenish, restore, and sustain through practical, inexpensive, and effective ocean stewardship the ocean pastures of the world’s Seven Seas. It doesn’t require grand international efforts and decades of argumentative Conferences Of the Parties acrimoniously and avariciously fighting over how to bake and divide a multi-trillion dollar annual pie. Restoring and sustaining ocean pastures won’t cost on an annual basis even a fraction of what some experts project is the one billion dollars being spend on COP21 (the vastly smaller G20 meeting in 2010 cost over $1 billion). It will merely take a dozen of my ilk each supported by a dozen shipmates to carry on life sustaining work on behalf of this blue planet.
Mere millions will suffice to restore and sustain the world’s dying ocean pastures and will every year bring back the all manner of fish numbering in the billions and with them all of ocean life.
Help make the choice a billion dollar party in Paris for 40,000 bureaucrats and activists for two weeks or restoring, replenishing, and sustaining the worlds oceans for the rest of the century!
What about the CO2?
Ocean pastures grow their plant life, their phytoplankton, just like pastures on land. The ocean plankton take in CO2 and using sunlight converts it into more plankton. This is the bottom of the food chain.
The famous English author Walt Whitman once said,
“All beef is grass, I say all fish is plankton.”
Every molecule of CO2 when it dissolves into water becomes immediately joined to the water molecule turning into carbonic acid, H2CO3. This massive global CO2 engineering process is slowly but surely converting the oceans normal neutral salt water more acidic. The trillion tonnes of yesterday’s CO2 already in the air and on its way into the oceans has barely begun it’s inevitable conversion into ocean acidifying carbonic acid. This deadly ocean acidification is inevitable save one single possible alternative pathway which requires enormous amounts of energy. Fortunately that energy is free and abundant in the form of photosynthesis of sunlight by the phytoplankton. Great the phytoplankton will save us… bzzztt! The phytoplankton of the ocean pastures are disappearing due to the decline of dust in the wind.
The great news is that it’s a very simple inexpensive job to take on the stewardship of ocean pastures just as mankind took on the stewardship of pastures on land ten thousand years ago. We simply give back to the oceans a tiny amount of iron rich rock dust! Less than 1/10th of 1% of the iron ore the world uses to make steel for example. But better late than never. Sounds easy, it surely is.
Here I am trying to do the right thing under sail from the deck of Neil Young’s 100 year old Baltic Schooner Ragland in 2002, my first open sea experiment in the North Pacific testing the replenishment of barely 1 ton of iron ore dust. Ten years later in 2012 my latest North Pacific experiment became the largest-ever ocean science experiment in global history sprinkling a mere 100 tons of similar dust over 10,000 sg. km. of dying ocean. And the Fish came back!
To put this into context. With the money being spent on the Paris COP21 meeting and festivities ocean pastures in all of the worlds seven seas could be replenished and restored to historic abundance for the remainder of this century! Hundreds of millions of tonnes of ocean killing and global warming CO2 would be annually converted into billions of additional fish that would otherwise starve out of existance. They would grow healthy and fat on those revived ocean pastures a small fraction of which would be caught and produce food for hundred of million of people.
Or as the participants of COP21 have clearly decided it’s better to do nothing and party til it’s all over, especially when you’ve got a cool billion dollars of expense money to spend in Paris for a week!