ChemFlunky asked in EnvironmentGlobal Warming · 10 years ago

What cool AGW mitigation strategies have you heard of?

I think everyone can agree that completely tanking the economy would be a bad thing. And it should be obvious that, at this point, quitting fossil fuel use cold-turkey would tank the economy. But there's a *lot* of room between "do nothing" and "don't burn another gram of coal or oil". Including a lot of things that wouldn't hurt the economy much or at all, and some that might even help the economy.

So, I want to hear the coolest ideas out there for reducing our CO2 emissions, or sequestering existing CO2, or otherwise fighting global warming. And I'm not talking the boring everybody-knows stuff like wind farms, driving less, and photovoltaic panels. I want cool. I want sexy. I want things about which you'll tell your hypothetical future grandchildren "You know, in my day, we didn't..."

At the very least, I want things that will have little or no negative impact on the economy, with *any* negative impact justified by a fairly significant positive impact on AGW. This can be either engineering/technical solutions (cool new ways to use less energy, make energy in non-fossil fuel ways, or otherwise fight AGW), or social solutions (ways to get people to do all the boring things above, and/or fund research into new tech solutions). Outside links encouraged.

Update:

Nighthawk: while "cool" is better for drumming up interest in fighting AGW, "sensible" is also needed.

7 Answers

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  • paul h
    Lv 7
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Algae or bacterial-based biofuels that are carbon-neutral sound promising. Billions of tons of garbage we bury in the ground could be converted into oil and be carbon-neutral.Nano-pellets of hydrogen flow like liquid and burn clean. Hydrogen can be produced from seawater using radio waves or methods with sunlight. Cleaner fuels can be produced using plasma. More efficient car and truck engines can improve fleet fuel economy...simple devices on fuel lines can improve economy by 15-20 percent....cladding on semi-trucks could save 39 billion gallons of diesel per year. There are also methods to sequester carbon for centuries using terra preta soils. Vertical farms closer to cities reduce the use of land, water, fuel, transport costs, oil or gas-based fertilizers, pestcides, etc...

    There is simply no way to convert all coal plants into wind or solar farms as yet and remain cost-competitive....micro-nuke plants could be another means if we can get over the waste/hazards issues. Micro-nukes can be used for a few decades and buried in the ground...pose no threat of terrorism and are well engineered to remain safe and deliver energy at coal-fired costs. Localized mini-nukes at or near large factories, health centers, college campuses, city centers, etc.. could enable people to recharge EV's at work/school and reduce large-scale grid changes.

    Grid-based rechargeable EV's do also have problems...rebuilding the grid to accomodate increased EV use would cost quite a bit, the rare earth's needed for electric motors and other minerals like lithium for batteries are likely to go up in demand and already are being hoarded by China and others....Bolivia has perhaps 50 percent of the world reserves. We would exchange oil dependance for mineral dependance and perhaps not have enough anyway or it would also cost too much.

    Cleaner fuel sources would seem to be the way to go and is achievable or perhaps a balance between wind/solar/nuke grid and cleaner fuels.

    Biofuels that sequester carbon...

    http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/20...

    http://desertsweetbiofuels.com/

    "Possible Fix For Global Warming?

    Environmental Engineers Use Algae To Capture Carbon Dioxide"

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2007/0407-possi...

    Bio-butanol can be used in existing engines and infrastructures...

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/11031...

    Nano-pellets of hydrogen...

    http://news.discovery.com/tech/synthetic-gasoline-...

    Garbage into oil...

    "Is Garbage The Solution To Tackling Climate Change?

    ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2009) — Converting the rubbish that fills the world’s landfills into biofuel may be the answer to both the growing energy crisis and to tackling carbon emissions, claim scientists in Singapore and Switzerland"

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/09092...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWf9nYbm3ac

    Youtube thumbnail

    &feature=related

    http://www.popsci.com/popsci/flat/bown/2007/innova...

    Urine powered fuel cells...

    "Using a nickel-based electrode, the scientists can create large amounts of cheap hydrogen from urine that could be burned or used in fuel cells. "One cow can provide enough energy to supply hot water for 19 houses," said Gerardine Botte, a professor at Ohio University developing the technology. "

    "A fuel cell, urine-powered vehicle could theoretically travel 90 miles per gallon. A refrigerator-sized unit could produce one kilowatt of energy for about $5,000, although this price is a rough estimate, says Botte. "

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31805166/ns/technology...

    I can imagine a conversation in the future....

    "Honey...I'm going to the store.

    We may be low on fuel...don't forget to wee-wee in the car.

    Oh, great...I just went to the bathroom....you do it"

    Cleaner fuels using plasma....

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/10032...

    Source(s): Terra preta soils... "The potential of biochar lies in its ability to sequester-capture and store-huge amounts of carbon while also displacing fossil fuel energy, effectively doubling its carbon impact," said Steiner, a soil scientist whose research in the Amazon Basin originally focused on the use of biochar as a soil amendment. " http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/08121... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-hSl59ET2A&feature... Vertical farming... http://verticalfarmingaustralia.blogspot.com/ http://www.verticalfarm.com/ Cladding on semi-trucks saves fuel... http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2008/1101-diese... Mini-nuke plants... http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-08/t... http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/19/toshibas-buildi...
  • 10 years ago

    For starters, to have no real impact on the economy, you'd need a good form of government to be part of the strategies. Using taxpayers money wisely is also a part of that process and I think this is a pretty important part. Unfortunately, places (US for example) are up to their eyeballs in debt which certainly doesn't help things. Lots of politicans also seem to be more about scoring political points and winning elections, rather than focusing on real solutions to problems.

    This is a difficult topic to talk about really. There's not going to be a 'one size fits all' solution anytime soon. Look at the island of Tasmania (near Australian mainland) for example. They get most of their energy from hydroelectric power which is a good idea and great for that place, but probably not something the entire world can rely on. Like I said, good governments are required and I don't think these have been around in many places for some time. Anyway, if things become truly dire, then we could all always resort to boob electricity:

    http://www.spike.com/video-clips/5qitx2/manswers-b...

    You did want 'sexy'. Seriously though, there are many factors needing a look into. Take infastructure itself for example. It just always seems like old technology is being used all the time. Look at electric cars and how they have been around for ages, but many factors seemed to have killed them and it's only now they're starting to take off. There's so many other aspects. Explore nuclear energy, like these 'new' kind of possible reactors:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527487044...

    Apparently, this technology has been around for decades. Heck, there are even reactors that are capable of running on a substance known as thorium which is far superior and yet, uranium is mostly the standard. Really, my whole point in saying stuff like this is that it just seems to me that we don't see the right investments in infastructure. If you want an example from my own country, then see how there are water restrictions (in a 'first world nation') put into effect.

    Source(s): Me - a catastrophic anthropogenic global warming sceptic.
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    The key thing we need to do is remove CO2 from the atmosphere. We will we not be able to transition from the carbon economy fast enough to avoid major damage from climate change; the carbon we emit now will be with us for hundreds of years. Furthermore, it's the only way to stop ocean acidification. Forget about SO2 or salt fountains or any other pointless projects to dim the sun. We have to get the carbon out of the atmosphere.

    Air scrubbers, a.k.a. artificial trees

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/big-idea/13/carb...

    make carbon negative cement

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=c...

    make fuel

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/19/science/19carb.h...

    LRG mentioned bio char, which could be the one that saves us. You can pyrolyze organic matter, anything from crop residue to human manure, get the heat, and half the carbon is retained as charcoal. There may be an almost limitless capacity for soil to hold this carbon. It becomes permanently stable and permanently improves the soil. Stop burning wood in regular fire! Make charcoal and bury it!

    http://www.biochar-international.org/technology/st...

  • 10 years ago

    Not sure if you will consider this "cool" enough for your purposes or not, but I do think it is a fairly realistic possibility. The nations need for electricity is continuing to grow. Efforts at conservation slowed the growth for a while but there is only so far you can go with conservation alone. The problem with so many of the renewable electricity generation options is that they are intermittent in nature, unreliable at times of greatest need and rather expensive. Geothermal generation however avoids many of the negatives that plague things like wind and solar. A binary (1 of 3 styles of geothermal electricity generation) geothermal generation power plant would be capable of producing steady, consistent base-load electricty similiar to the production from coal-fired or nuclear power plants. Geothermal is close to being ready for "prime-time" and will not require a decade or more of new technological developments before it could be brought into reality. Advanced drilling techniques developed by natural gas well drillers would be of much benefit in developing the underground field from which the heat would be drawn. It is not a technology that could be developed in all areas of the country but I have seen survey maps of underground temperatures at various depths and that would certainly direct you to the parts of the country where such a plant would be feasible. Once in operation a binary geothermal generation plant would be essentially pollution free. There are several coal-fired generation plants in the US that are approaching the end of their useful life and as they gradually come off-line and need to be replaced that would be a possibility to replace them with.

    Also, if half of the resources that have been spent to date fighting against coal-fired power plants had instead been spent in the development of "clean coal" technologies it would help to open the door to using one of this countries most abundant energy sources in a more environmentally friendly way. There is a power generation company based in N. Dak that was preparing to build coal-fired plant that was going to utilize a new technology for combusting the coal and also their design incorporated a CO2 capture and sequestration process. This is the same company that is operating the only large scale CO2 squesteration project in N. America and has a pipeline going into Canada where the CO2 is pumped down into oil fields for enhanced oil production from the field. The new plant with the CO2 sequestration incorportated was finally derailed by lack of funding as AGW protests convinced the political powers in Wash. DC to forbid the Rural Utilities Service from providing funding to any new coal-fired generation. With the amount of coal that lays within the borders of the US it seems kind of silly to just walk away from it instead of developing new clean coal technologies that will allow it to be utilized in ways that are much more environmentally responsible. I am sure though that you will not consider clean coal technology as "cool" either, but here is a way to look at it. If you have a squeaky wheel (the CO2 emitting power plant) you can either simply grease it (develop the ways to make it cleaner) and keep moving forwards, OR, you can decide to abandon the wheel entirely and try to invent a whole new way of traveling. I am a proponent of the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and to me the simplest way of addressing this situation is to find ways to utilize what we know we already have in better, cleaner and more responsible ways rather than just abandon it entirely and hope that we are able to generate enough dependable electricity in some new manner before rolling blackouts become the norm.

    Geothermal and clean coal. Not necessarily "cool" perhaps, but certainly feasible in the near term.

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  • 10 years ago

    Well Chem, this is "cool" in the sense of shady (though it seems unlikely to be feasible on more than a token scale, if it is even feasible at all): This article in today's New York Times talks about a scheme to "halt and reverse climate change" by cloning California coastal redwoods.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/us/10trees.html/

  • Mr.357
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    Exiling Al Gore. We could send him and Micheal Moore to Cuba.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    biochar. maybe not 'sexy' but certainly dirty.

    wikipedia entry good in parts, someone has messed up all the links.

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/M...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-1200...

    http://62.75.189.239/joom/Joomla/index.php/test

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