Sunday, 15 November 2009

Copenhagen at the Crossroads; Adaptation or Mitigation?

The Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009 was intended to
commit world governments to a common purpose and approach
on reducing climate changes. Already before the meeting,
it is becoming obvious that such an agreement cannot be
reached. The reason is simple; the concept of the Kyoto
Treaty is deeply flawed and more and more countries are
urged by their citizens to find more effective and more
agreeable provisions for a new treaty.

Such a worldwide pact must treat every country fairly and
must take into account past practices and missteps.
Scientific evidence has become undeniable; the Earth is
getting warmer and climate changes are proliferating.
Consensus is building that a worldwide arrangement must be
arrived at that initially halts further warming and that
eventually restores historic climate conditions when such
restoration becomes economically and technologically
feasible.

The Copenhagen meeting is unable to decide on future
countermeasures because many nations feel uncomfortable
consenting to binding provisions that aim at the reduction
of energy consumption in all participating nations. The
general apprehension and distrust is based on past history;
the wealthiest nations are pushing the hardest for energy
reduction but cannot agree on energy reduction targets and
cannot achieve targets previous agreed upon.

Additionally, there is general unease; will the rationing
of energy lead to a slowdown of national economies? World
populations are continuing to grow. National economies
must keep pace and governments cannot dare to take the
chance of strangling domestic growth. How should
Copenhagen or a subsequent convention respond?

Fortunately, at least one workable solution is beginning to
take shape. This is the concept of turning back the clock;
reducing today's excessive carbon dioxide concentration
back to historic levels. For thousands of years,
atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were maintained
by Mother Nature at 280 ppm. Historic climate conditions
can be reestablished with certainty if we can get back to
this magic level and can do so in the near future.

A new environmental movement has sprung up that is trying
to impress upon the world's governments that atmospheric
concentrations have to be returned to 350 ppm. This
movement, which calls itself 350.org, has the right
concept. If we are able to reduce carbon dioxide levels to
350 ppm from higher levels, we will automatically be able
to reach lower levels, too. The challenge of being able to
save Earth from overheating, therefore, comes down to
resolving several, important questions.

What technologies must be available for reducing
atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration? How can the
world community agree upon an equitable and fair approach
to significantly reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide
emissions, restore them close to historic levels, prevent
the slowing down of world economies, distribute the
responsibility for cleanup judiciously, and allow younger
nations to catch up to energy use levels of industrialized
countries?

Fortunately, scientists, inventors, and investors have
accumulated an astonishing armory of technologies and
equipment for converting and utilizing energy.

However, the assortment of technologies needed for first
arresting and subsequently reducing atmospheric carbon
dioxide concentrations is not complete, yet. Several
technologies must be advanced before they become usable.
Others must be developed entirely.

Technologies for storing large quantities of electric
energy, for reducing the cost of electricity from solar
energy and wind energy, for growing huge quantities of
biomass without threatening food crop agriculture, and for
converting biomass into petroleum substitutes must be
developed to stop the destructive use of fossil fuels.

Scientists and technologist can, however not stop there.
Completely different technologies are needed for retrieving
carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The very low
concentration of carbon dioxide, which is so powerful in
causing global overheating, is thermodynamically not suited
at all for economic recovery and sequestration of this
pollutant.

New inventions are required to provide such a much needed
technology for restoring historic carbon dioxide levels.

Can scientists, technologists, inventors, and investors
respond in time? This is a judgment call. This author
believes that at least one decade is needed for getting
missing energy technologies developed and readied for
installation. Private industry will not be able to provide
the early funding for developing very expensive and risky
concepts. Industry will get involved only after
developments have reached a stage, at which risks can be
quantified.

A major national or international agency must be formed to
tackle the formidable challenges, which need to be resolved
before Earth can be saved.

The agency must be committed to a very tightly written
mission: - Develop and prepare the implementation of a
worldwide plan that will develop novel energy conversion
systems, which will halt global warming and which will be
capable of furnishing plentiful, affordable, and secure
energy supplies for the next few centuries without slowing
world economies or harming the environment.

Funding required for such an agency will be comparatively
small when measured against past, huge, and worthless
efforts related to technology developments for combating
climate changes.


About the Author:

Dr. Hemsath's books, Climate Change-Gold Rush or Disaster?
and Clean Energy For Centuries, offer a comprehensive plan
for saving Earth from overheating. He is now writing a
follow-on book, Petroleum Substitutes From Biomass. For
fifty years he has worked on advanced energy technologies
as scientist, engineer, inventor, Corporate R&D Executive,
CEO, entrepreneur, and author. He holds more than 60 US
Patents.
Visit http://www.thermalexpert.com