The free online magazine for news and views from Cradley, Storridge & Mathon
editor@okcradley.com editor@okcradley.com editor: Ken Nason features editor: Harold Armitage
okcradley.com
48
Apr 2024
The “Net zero carbon” debate. There’s a lot of debate about “Net zero carbon”, much of it in the “Red Top” newspapers and by ignorant politicians. The debate is pointless, net zero is unavoidable and the sooner people realise it the better. The situation is clouded by politicians hoping to gain influence by telling people what they want to hear rather than the truth. Since WW2 we have all enjoyed an increasingly prosperous lifestyle thanks to an abundance of cheap locally produced fossil fuels. However the supply is not unlimited and at some point it will be gone. It has been prophesied that the world will run out of oil for example since the 1960s when we were supposed to run out 1980. This of course never happened. Technological advances enabled oil to be recovered from places never dreamed of in times gone by. However at some point it will happen. Before it does, the prices will rise due to the extreme methods necessitated to find and extract it. In fact it can’t be allowed to happen, we need oil for so many other things apart from just burning it. We use fossil fuels (hydrocarbons) to make textiles, plastics, steel/other metals, cement, bricks, explosives, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers just to mention a few. A very major use is to make tarmacadam/asphalt for our highways. It’s very hard to imagine how else we could make most of these things without oil or coal. There’s going to have to be a lot more recycling in the future. Much of what oil and coal remains is in distant lands, in the hands of hostile foreigners or in parts of the world racked by wars and unrest. These people won’t hesitate to hold us to ransom if it suits them. If we are to maintain our lifestyle, we need a transition to other local energy sources and for the alternatives to be as diverse as possible. We also need to spread the transition period over as long a period as possible in order that the expense and chaos is minimised. There are huge technical problems and it WILL be expensive, we are all going to experience a reduced standard of living until the necessary changes to our energy infrastructure are complete and paid for. However, renewable energy sources, unlike fossil fuels, come for free. Once transition is made and the infra structure paid for, electricity should be cheap. Climate change. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. The effect of CO2 in the atmosphere causes “greenhouse effect”, ie retention of solar heat that would otherwise escape. There are other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere too, water vapour being the main one. This was first determined two hundred years ago and can be also observed on other planets. Harder to predict are secondary effects, some of which are positive (in the technical sense) and some negative. This is what all the controversy is about. Whilst it’s true that the Earth has been subjected to regular climate change in the past, this has taken place over many thousands of years. This regular rhythm was first determined and the reasons for it a hundred years ago. The changes in the climate we see today has taken place in a century. So, none of this is new stuff and not hyperscience. Positive feedback effects are inherently unstable ie, it is a self perpetuating runaway event. Examples are:- 1. As permafrost in the Arctic melts, methane gas is released (another strong greenhouse gas). 2. As ice disappears in the polar/arctic regions, more solar heat is absorbed instead of being reflected back into space. 3. As the sea warms, it can absorb less carbon dioxide. Which may or may not be a good thing, no-one is quite sure. Negative feedback effects slows down climate change and leads to a degree of stability. Example:- As the air warms, there may be more clouds which would reflect sunlight back into space. It’s better to think of events as “climate change”, some places may even become colder (at least initially) including us. Even a small change in weather patterns will have massive agricultural, economic and social effects that are largely unpredictable. The big arguments are not about “if” but “when”. Of late, it seems that events are happening sooner than predicted. The Various Associated Myths. 1) We still have coal in the UK. UK mines were shut down for good reason. As a mine becomes older, it becomes less economic until the numbers don’t add up. Once abandoned, unless a mine is maintained it rapidly collapses. Reopening is not an option. A very small amount of coal is still mined by opencast means, however the remaining life of these mines is short. 2) We have undiscovered gas in the UK. Nobody yet knows if we have further gas yet to be discovered. If we do it won’t be much. Most of our gas is imported from Norway and the Middle East. The interim plan is to generate electricity stations using gas. 3) Recent weather events are entirely natural. While there are little glitches in the word’s weather patterns, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the changes in the weather the oldies amongst us have experienced are more than a glitch, something far more sinister is afoot. The interim solution. New technology gas fired power stations are twice as efficient as the traditional power stations. Home heating to be by means of electrically driven heat pumps. This gives us a lot more bang for our buck but this can only be an interim solution for the next few decades because even imported gas will gradually become ever more expensive and finally unavailable. It buys time so permanent solutions can be implemented. It’s very hard for politicians to get their heads round this because, as we all know, they are only concerned about the time to the next general election. Any links to other countries, physical or commercial, can be disrupted. We need a robust system that can’t be mucked about with by other parties. Next article “So now what?”.
Harold Armitage NET ZERO ?
editor@okcradley.com
editor@okcradley.com editor: Ken Nason features editor: Harold Armitage
okcradley.com
The free online magazine for news and views from Cradley, Storridge & Mathon
48
April 24
The “Net zero carbon” debate. There’s a lot of debate about “Net zero carbon”, much of it in the “Red Top” newspapers and by ignorant politicians. The debate is pointless, net zero is unavoidable and the sooner people realise it the better. The situation is clouded by politicians hoping to gain influence by telling people what they want to hear rather than the truth. Since WW2 we have all enjoyed an increasingly prosperous lifestyle thanks to an abundance of cheap locally produced fossil fuels. However the supply is not unlimited and at some point it will be gone. It has been prophesied that the world will run out of oil for example since the 1960s when we were supposed to run out 1980. This of course never happened. Technological advances enabled oil to be recovered from places never dreamed of in times gone by. However at some point it will happen. Before it does, the prices will rise due to the extreme methods necessitated to find and extract it. In fact it can’t be allowed to happen, we need oil for so many other things apart from just burning it. We use fossil fuels (hydrocarbons) to make textiles, plastics, steel/other metals, cement, bricks, explosives, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers just to mention a few. A very major use is to make tarmacadam/asphalt for our highways. It’s very hard to imagine how else we could make most of these things without oil or coal. There’s going to have to be a lot more recycling in the future. Much of what oil and coal remains is in distant lands, in the hands of hostile foreigners or in parts of the world racked by wars and unrest. These people won’t hesitate to hold us to ransom if it suits them. If we are to maintain our lifestyle, we need a transition to other local energy sources and for the alternatives to be as diverse as possible. We also need to spread the transition period over as long a period as possible in order that the expense and chaos is minimised. There are huge technical problems and it WILL be expensive, we are all going to experience a reduced standard of living until the necessary changes to our energy infrastructure are complete and paid for. However, renewable energy sources, unlike fossil fuels, come for free. Once transition is made and the infra structure paid for, electricity should be cheap. Climate change. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. The effect of CO2 in the atmosphere causes “greenhouse effect”, ie retention of solar heat that would otherwise escape. There are other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere too, water vapour being the main one. This was first determined two hundred years ago and can be also observed on other planets. Harder to predict are secondary effects, some of which are positive (in the technical sense) and some negative. This is what all the controversy is about. Whilst it’s true that the Earth has been subjected to regular climate change in the past, this has taken place over many thousands of years. This regular rhythm was first determined and the reasons for it a hundred years ago. The changes in the climate we see today has taken place in a century. So, none of this is new stuff and not hyperscience. Positive feedback effects are inherently unstable ie, it is a self perpetuating runaway event. Examples are:- 1. As permafrost in the Arctic melts, methane gas is released (another strong greenhouse gas). 2. As ice disappears in the polar/arctic regions, more solar heat is absorbed instead of being reflected back into space. 3. As the sea warms, it can absorb less carbon dioxide. Which may or may not be a good thing, no-one is quite sure. Negative feedback effects slows down climate change and leads to a degree of stability. Example:- As the air warms, there may be more clouds which would reflect sunlight back into space. It’s better to think of events as “climate change”, some places may even become colder (at least initially) including us. Even a small change in weather patterns will have massive agricultural, economic and social effects that are largely unpredictable. The big arguments are not about “if” but “when”. Of late, it seems that events are happening sooner than predicted. The Various Associated Myths. 1) We still have coal in the UK. UK mines were shut down for good reason. As a mine becomes older, it becomes less economic until the numbers don’t add up. Once abandoned, unless a mine is maintained it rapidly collapses. Reopening is not an option. A very small amount of coal is still mined by opencast means, however the remaining life of these mines is short. 2) We have undiscovered gas in the UK. Nobody yet knows if we have further gas yet to be discovered. If we do it won’t be much. Most of our gas is imported from Norway and the Middle East. The interim plan is to generate electricity stations using gas. 3) Recent weather events are entirely natural. While there are little glitches in the word’s weather patterns, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the changes in the weather the oldies amongst us have experienced are more than a glitch, something far more sinister is afoot. The interim solution. New technology gas fired power stations are twice as efficient as the traditional power stations. Home heating to be by means of electrically driven heat pumps. This gives us a lot more bang for our buck but this can only be an interim solution for the next few decades because even imported gas will gradually become ever more expensive and finally unavailable. It buys time so permanent solutions can be implemented. It’s very hard for politicians to get their heads round this because, as we all know, they are only concerned about the time to the next general election. Any links to other countries, physical or commercial, can be disrupted. We need a robust system that can’t be mucked about with by other parties. Next article “So now what?”.
NET ZERO ? Harold Armitage