Recycle Yr Carbon, Plz

November 23, 2012 glenn Uncategorized

Recently, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the UNEP, and Potsdam/World Bank came out with papers implying or indicating the likelihood of 4+ deg C sometime this century.  We already experience $1.2 Tr USD and nearly 400K deaths per year attributable to today’s mere 0.8 deg C global temperature increase.  This is due in large part to that extra 200 Gt carbon in the atmosphere now, but efforts seem to be primarily, or nearly only, directed at reducing emissions.  If we had been recycling what we emitted all this time, we wouldn’t have the problem of too much carbon in the atmosphere.  Why not start recycling it now?  Why keep emitting ghg’s like trash that doesn’t get recycled and keeps accumulating without having a recycling program.  Sure, CO2 levels continue to rise because we continue to emit CO2, but then we leave it there.  It doesn’t have to stay there.
Not all of it, of course, stays there.  The biosphere uses about a third of what we emit, and unfortunately, oceans take up about 2 extra Gt C/year.  How do we recycle the difference, or more than the difference if we want to do the right thing and clean up what we have already emitted?
In the first place, nature does a pretty good job.  Look at Mauna Loa monthly mean data for May and October.  Nature offset emissions and pulled out 5,78 ppm — 11+ GtC — in 5 months!  Good job nature!!  We just need more of it to also reverse the trend line!
So we burned fossil fuels and net amounts of timber.  Combustion is generally [CH2]n + O2 — > CO2 + H2O, the two most warming ghg’s.  What reaction can remove these ghg’s?  Generally, the one that caused much of the downtick in the CO2 data.  CO2 + H2O — > C6H12O6, and a majority of that can go into the rhizosphere (Horst Marschner, Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants), feeding microbes which, when eaten, become stable humic substances — soil carbon!
It should come as no surprise that my own strategy to deal with the climate problem is to continue to find ways to reduce fossil material use, do everything we can to protect our forests, reforest and aforest suitable tropical areas as rapidly, sensibly, and as well managed as possible, generate other forestry and perennial projects that will provide timber and fuel, and remove much of the need for annual agriculture, use whatever means possible to eliminate CAFO production and switch to Holistically Managed pastures, rangelands, and savannas, use water harvesting techniques to improve soil, recharge ground water, loosen crusted and hardpan soil, and drought-proof grasses and crops, and rewild these grasslands and savannas as they become improved.  Done on a massive scale, we should see hopeful signs of impending reversal within a decade or so.
It wasn’t that long ago that 350 was a buzzword.  Bill McKibben called it the most important number.  He and everyone else seem to have forgotten that, and have refocused on 2 deg C.  My hope is that as we realize the importance and value of co-creating more life, we can re-re-focus back to a pathway leading below 350 and approaching pre-industrial CO2 levels.
The other problem with overfocus on ghg emissions is that the Gaia has been deeply wounded, even without climate change.  More life!!  Stop extinction, reverse desertification, and reverse global warming!
See Reverse Global Warming’s Resources page to find out what can be done, or contact for presentations or consulting.

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