The Carbon Standard 300/30
David I.J. Somers.
Copyright 21st June 2007. Private draft discussion summary.
Earth is a planet, overheating, over populated and thus under resourced, with an infinite financial system
disconnected from these finite realities. These imbalances, created by our economy, amplified by
technological developments and simmered in political end gaining, continue to grow. The Earth is the
planetary equivalent of a sink estate, If we wish to survive and prosper, these imbalances need to be
Our Industrial Society breaks the cardinal rule for life on Earth, which is the Carbon Cycle. The Carbon
Cycle is in essence a symbiotic trade between animals and vegetables. Animals release CO2 and vegetables capture CO2, via the mediums of the atmosphere and oceans. The land, ( whether above the oceans or below them ) provides both the medium and mineral resources that animals and vegetables need to exist.
This is easily demonstrated by observing that a Horse, eats vegetation, but it also excretes manure, this
manure then provides the nutrients, for the vegetation to regenerate, so that the next time the horse visits, his meal is ready. This trade I call the ” Contract of Manure “ or the COM for short. All life on Earth honours this trade, the COM, except industrial human society.
It is of vital importance that our industrial society balances the release and capture of Carbon Dioxide, in line with all other life on Earth. Failure to do this has caused climate change and a host of other problems. Unfortunately the current Carbon trading system is based on NOT doing. If I can prove that I have NOT emitted Carbon Dioxide, then I can sell that right to emit Carbon Dioxide to someone else so that they can emit it. If this rational is applied in other areas, the absurdity becomes more apparent. For example; I am a criminal, if I can prove that I have reduced the number of crimes, that I have committed this year, then I can sell the right to commit those crimes to someone else. Will this approach cut crime or Carbon Dioxide emissions ?? I think not.
What is needed is a system, that obliges people to balance their capture and release of CO2 and at the same time delivers them material benefits from joining such a system. It would also be prudent to initially exceed the goal of being carbon neutral and become carbon positive by capturing more carbon than is released to rebalance the atmospheric concentration of CO2 from its current level of 380ppm down to 300ppm, to repair some of the damage that has already been done. A timescale needs to be set to achieve this reduction, so we can suggest a figure of 30 years.
The previous paragraph describes “ The Carbon Standard 300/30 “.
How can industrialised people like you and me be become carbon neutral ? To be industrialised we need a
source of power, currently we use fossil fuels to power the bulk our industries. To replace fossil fuels, which do not honour the COM, we need the industrial equivalent of vegetables, so that we can honour the COM by synthesising our fuels from the atmospheric CO2 and H2O in the same way that vegetables photosynthesise fuels for animals.
Fortunately there is a piece of kit that will do this, it is called a fuel cell . Fuel cells were developed in the
1950s and have the ability to work in both directions, i.e. they can turn electricity into fuel or fuel into
electricity. Fuel cells can currently work with Hydrogen, Carbon Monoxide, Methane and Methanol. In order to honour the COM, we need a supply of cheap electricity, which requires us to find a reliable power source.
The first thing to do is to look for a temperature difference to tap into. Being discerning we observe that the air is warmed by the sun during the day and cools down at night. We also note that the sea warms in the summer and cools during the winter but on a daily basis the fluctuations in temperature are minimal. So for most of the day and night there is a temperature difference between air and water, the temperatures being equal at dawn and dusk.
So we have identified a common temperature difference that exists for twenty out of twenty four hours. The fact that the highest temperature fluctuates between the two mediums of air and water is a benefit as the thermal pollution is negligible. Which is better than a conventional power stations, coal or nuclear which have fairly large thermal footprints, that can disturb surrounding ecosystems.
The key point to note is that by using the heat energy contained in the atmosphere and seas rather than the mechanical energy that is used with wind turbines and hydroelectric dams, there is a lot more energy
available. There is 1400 times more energy available by reducing the temperature of a cubic foot of water by one degree centigrade than there is by dropping the same cubic foot of water down by twelve inches.
As such a power plant can be located, anywhere that there is some flow, either through tides or currents,
there is the potential to easily make up the 27 million barrels per day shortfall in conventional oil, that is
predicted in 2020 by Dr Samsam Bakhtiari.
So our global citizen can now run his home, car and fly to his holiday home in a carbon neutral fashion, the next thing is to do something carbon positive, to capture CO2 and reduce the atmospheric parts per million.
Coal is one of the main fuels we use to make electricity, and it is considered to be a dirty fuel. The reason for this is that we do not use coal in a sensible way. Coal is many generations of vegetation, when you burn it you are left with a mineral ash that contains sufficient minerals to grow enough vegetation to capture ten times the amount of CO2 released when the coal was burned as well as useful quantities of metals such as Aluminium, Titanium and Vanadium.
The trick is to use the desulphurisation and combustion processes at the power station to achieve the type of ash required. The ash is applied to agricultural land, where it regenerates the top soil making the land more resistant to floods and drought. It also produces crops with sufficient minerals, so that the body can fully assimilate the food it eats, reducing the diseases of our overfed and undernourished western diet. Finally it means that the owners of the land can claim carbon offset credits.
The potential carbon capture for coal if used sensibly, based on annual global consumption of circa five
billion tons is 37.5 billion tons of carbon, or 137.5 billion tons of CO2. With increasing numbers of the worlds population seeking a western industrial lifestyle, the pressure on raw materials is increasing, our modern manufacturing culture, prefers that we discard rather than repair our manufactured items. This approach will exacerbate shortages, even with recycling.
On average it takes about 60,000 miles worth of fuel to manufacture a new car, which is six years average motoring. If a car lasted as long as an aeroplane, say thirty years, we would only need to build a fifth of the number of cars that we do at present.
If we combine the concept of retrofitting, as new technologies arrive, the older cars will have the capabilities of the newer cars, but at a much smaller cost in resources. Retrofitting is the preferred method used in the natural world, if your body requires some more skin cells, it does not scrap the whole of you, it makes some and retrofits them.