This article is full of incorrect beliefs and statements.
Franzen says – “The struggle to rein in global carbon emissions and keep the planet from melting down has the feel of Kafka’s fiction. The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it.”
The “earnest efforts” were using plans that never had any hope of achieving the goal of reducing or offsetting global carbon emissions.
What were the efforts against emissions?
The Kyoto Protocol was an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that committed state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (part one) global warming is occurring and (part two) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. There are currently 192 parties (Canada withdrew from the protocol, effective December 2012) to the Protocol.
Annex B countries were mainly Europe countries, Russia, Australia and other developed countries.
The Journal of Applied Energy – Ex-post assessment of the Kyoto Protocol – quantification of CO2 mitigation impact in both Annex B and non-Annex B countries.
For the Annex B (aka developed) countries, 76 Million tons of CO2e of mitigation occurred during the preparation stage of the first commitment period (2005–2007), but no further effects were observed during the first commitment period (2008–2012). The following important lessons were learned from the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol: (1) insufficient emission caps did not provide any mitigation incentives; rather, they resulted in perverse effects amounting to 12 Mt CO2e, which increased emissions in certain Annex B countries with economies in transition.
The Kyoto Protocol brought about 951 Mt CO2e of real emission reductions in all over the world, mainly from implementing non-energy-related GHG emission reduction projects in non-Annex B countries (aka developing countries).
The USA would be emitting 1.1 billion tons of additional CO2 each year if not for natural gas displacing coal, general industrial efficiency and some solar and wind. Increases in gas electricity generation is the largest driver, accounting for 33% of the total emissions reduction in 2016. Gas is far from zero-carbon, but reduces CO2 in the US because it mostly displaces high-carbon coal. Wind generation was responsible for 19% of emissions reduction, while reduced electricity use – mostly in the industrial sector – was responsible for 18%. Reduced industrial CO2 emissions from non-electric sources, such as on-site burning of oil or natural gas, accounted for an additional 7%. For several decades, there has also been 200 million tons of CO2 per year avoided by using nuclear power in place of coal.
There are no legally binding terms in the Paris agreement. The Paris Agreement is made up of whatever promises each country feels like making. If all regions achieve their NDCs (voluntary promises), the projected reductions in CO2 emissions growth rates across the regions in the model range from a low of one percent for OPEC to nearly six percent for Japan. Global CO2 emissions would be lower than baseline by 13 billion metric tons by 2030.
The countries of the world are failing to meet the pledges. So all the effort for the Kyoto protocol was for 2 weeks worth of global emissions. The Paris agreement is looking like less than 25 weeks of global emissions. The time is how it takes for the world to reach the same level of total emissions. Those plans failed because they were stupid and nearly useless plans.
The world is doubling in every 13-25 years in terms of economic terms (GDP in Purchasing power parity). This has been increasing world emissions by 20% with each doubling despite improvements in energy efficiency.
There were predictions of global mass starvations made in the 1940’s and 1950s with the increasing world population. However, global mass starvation did not occur. The Green Revolution was successful in preventing mass starvation. It was not because “earnest efforts” to increase the planting of crops. It was not because all people started eating less.
The rapid increase in agricultural output resulting from the Green Revolution came from an impressive increase in yields per hectare. Between 1960 and 2000, yields for all developing countries rose 208% for wheat, 109% for rice, 157% for maize, 78% for potatoes, and 36% for cassava.
Many of the proposed fixes climate change involve changing every energy source, the power grids, every vehicle and every building to counter climate change are stupid and those proposals are doomed to fail.
Those are like plans to lighten the weight of the Earth by 1 trillion tons by having every person lose 20 pounds. There is a contribution but you are going about it by using a slower and more difficult path. The path also gets sacrifices from everyone so that you get resistance from most of the people. There are also cheaper and faster plans that would be 1000 times more effective.
Not a Few Billion Tons of CO2 But a Trillion to 2 Trillion Tons of CO2 Drawdown
Every year, 15 billion trees destroyed from natural and anthropogenic causes. Despite US$50 billion a year spent on replanting, there remains an annual net loss of 6 billion trees. We plant about 9 billion trees each year.
Biocarbon engineering has drone-based tree planting that can speed up tree planting by up to 150 times and at a vastly lower cost. Fast growing species have the potential to draw down and store more carbon in the soil.
Two operators equipped with 10 drones can plant 400,000 trees per day. Just 400 teams could plant 10 billion trees each year, with the capability to scale to tens of billions of trees annually.
Detailed satellite analysis has shown that we can plant 1 trillion trees in open land. We already have 3 trillion trees and there used to be 6 trillion trees.
The best (non-drone) tree restoration projects are restoring billions of trees at 30 cents a tree. This means 1 trillion trees would be $300 billion. Drone planting of trees can use 4000 drones, and 2000 people to plant 10 billion trees per year at about $1 billion per year.
It might be triple this amount to cut down the trees and to use the wood. The value of the wood could offset the cost of cutting them down. A very rough estimate would be $450 billion every 12 years to cut plant and cut down some faster-growing trees to offset all human CO2 and greenhouse gas production.
The researchers claim it is not a complete solution. However, if we stabilize the growth of CO2 production which is affordable and then cut down the trees every 12-20 years to sequester a fresh amount of CO2 then it is a complete solution. It would be about 400-600 billion tons of CO2 every ten years.
The three other categories of solutions that scale are regenerative agriculture to restore top soil, iron fertilization of the ocean and mass production of kelp at 1000 times current levels.
So let us stop pursuing stupid plans and agreements. Let us stop trying to convince everyone to needlessly change their lives. 20,000 people and 40,000 drones and the rights to plant on about 2% of the world would enable one climate fix.
SOURCES- New Yorker, Biocarbon engineering
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com