Trillions Already Wasted in the Name of Fixing Climate Change But What Would Fix the Climate ?

The latest UN IPCC, climate change report is out. the IPCC report says that global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered.

If we are going to fix the world’s climate then it matters how much things cost, the scale of the problem and scale of solutions and it matters how long it really takes to do things. Costs of over $100 per ton of CO2 mitigation are stupid for a trillion-ton CO2 problem. The bio approaches for using trees, algae and crops tend to be at $1 per ton of CO2 or less. Getting lower-cost non-carbon energy can be an economic gain instead of a cost. Electric vehicles (EVs) are on track to be lower cost than gasoline vehicles. This means it will be cost beneficial to consumers and countries to switch to EVs.

Climate solutions that are work at $1 or less per ton of CO2 and can be fully implemented in less than 20 years and they can scale to 1 trillion tons total then the climate change problem can be fixed by 2042. Solutions that are more expensive and slower can be justified for other reasons but they would not be part of the fast and effective plan to fix the climate by 2042.

The IPCC and climate activists have ineffective plans. Annual CO2 emissions are still increasing. The overall excess levels of CO2 compared to 1850 is 2.3 trillion tons. Annual CO2 emissions are increasing to 33 billion tons in 2021.

The total mass of the Earth’s atmosphere is 5.5 quadrillion tons. One-millionth of that is 5.5 billion tons. The level of CO2 now is 417 PPM which is about 2.3 trillion tons. The level of CO2 in 1850 was 285 PPM. Going to net-zero annual CO2 emissions and removing 715 billion tons of CO2 would get the world atmosphere back to 1850 levels. It should also be noted that the average world temperature from 0 AD to 1600 was an average of about 0.2-0.3 degrees Celsius warmer than 1850.

The US has been officially spending about 20-26 billion a year on various aspects of climate change research and some levels of mitigation. The Biden administration increased this climate spending to about $31 billion. The total US federal spending on climate change research and mitigation projects has been over $350 billion. There is also spending at the state government level and from other countries. This does not include the renewable energy spending and most of the renewable energy subsidies.

Capital spending on renewable energy is expected to increase 8.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) to US$243 billion in 2021 from US$224 billion in 2020. The world’s total, direct energy sector subsidies, including fossil fuels, renewables and nuclear power, stood at least US$634 billion in 2017. Fossil fuel subsidies accounted for 70% of the figure while subsidies to renewable power generation technologies accounted for around 20% (US$128 billion), biofuels 6% (US$38 billion) and nuclear power around 3% (US$21 billion).

Germany alone has spent over a trillion euros on its energy transition. It is estimated that it will cost another 1.5 trillion euros to get Germany to 80% of its energy from renewables. This would take until 2050.

Getting Germany to about 40% energy from renewables has already been three times more expensive than France going to 80% energy from nuclear energy. The french decarbonization was done faster and cheaper. It is taking Germany four times longer and seven times more spending to get to the same level of decarbonization of energy as France.

Nearly half of the roughly 380 million metric tonnes of methane released by human activities annually could be cut this decade with available and relatively cost-effective methods. Reducing methane global warming is far cheaper than reducing CO2. Halving methane emissions would avoid 0.3C of warming by the 2040s. The easiest gains can be made by fixing leaky pipelines, stopping deliberate releases such as venting unwanted gas from drilling rigs, and other actions in the oil and gas industry. Capturing fumes from rotting materials in landfills and squelching the gassy belches of ruminant livestock will also help.

Satellites, planes and drones can now track the size and location of methane leaks.

Despite the claims of urgency, there is still not strong support for nuclear energy as being part of the solution mix.

China is Spending Tens of Billions by 2025 to Provide Food for 700 Million People from Greenhouses

China will build 2 Million hectares (20 billion square meters) of controlled environment greenhouses by 2025 and this will produce half of their vegetables and crop needs. Temperature, humidity, lighting would all be under controlled conditions. It would not matter if there were new extreme temperature swings outside or if there was drought. The needed food and water would be immune to any projected climate change over the next 500-1000 years.

Alibaba sells greenhouses for as little as 70 cents per square meter. The bulk, high volume cost to the manufacturer is about 50 cents per square meter. If installation labor costs are 50% of the 2 million hectare project then it would cost about $20 billion for the 2 million hectare project. $40 billion would be sufficient for China to make 40 billion square meters of climate-controlled greenhouses which could produce all vegetables and crops. It would cost $260 billion to make greenhouses for the food production of the entire world.

Indoor climate-controlled agriculture has almost no need for pesticides and uses 7% of the water. This would take up 3-5% of the total land area of open-air farming.

Meat production could also be brought under climate control. The feed for cows, pigs, chicken and fish could be either brought into greenhouses or converted to insects. Insect feed can be twenty to one hundred times more space and water-efficient.

Meat can be converted into cell-based production in large vats. This would be similar to the industrial production of beer.

Bringing agriculture under indoor control would have trivial costs compared to the multi-hundred trillion dollar climate change mitigation plans.

There would be zero risk of mass starvation caused by temperature or drought-induced crop failure.

It is likely only truly economical (even with China’s mass production) to bring vegetable and fruit farming indoors. If China has indoor vegetable and fruit production at $1 per pound then other countries could follow at different levels based upon how cost-competitive indoor farming is against open-air farming for a particular crop. There is also the question if people will pay more for greenhouse crops. Greenhouses allow for year-round crop production. This means consistent prices and availability for fruits and vegetable year round. It also means indoor farms can be inside of cities for fruit and vegetables that are fresh from the tree and vine. This will reduce the usage of gasoline to move fruits and vegetables.

Ocean Farming

Global seaweed production as over 34.7 million tons per year in 2019. This was up nearly eight times from 4.2 million tons per year in 1990. Annual global seaweed production is on a normal path to 500 million dry tons by 2050 with 14% per year increases.

Ocean forest plan would accelerate growth of seaweed farming to 25-50% per year growth and reach about 20-60 billion tons per year of production. Worldwide agricultural production is about 4 billion tons per year.

Ocean Afforestation research suggests 12 billion tons per year of biomethane could be produced while storing 19 billion tons of CO2 per year directly from biogas production and 34 billion tons per year from carbon capture. These rates are based on macro-algae forests covering 9% of the world’s ocean surface, which could produce sufficient biomethane to replace all of today’s needs in fossil fuel energy, while removing 53 billion tons of CO2 per year from the atmosphere. This amount of biomass could also increase sustainable fish production to potentially provide 200 kg/yr/person for 10 billion people.

SOURCES – IPCC, Compete Caribbean, China, Ocean Forest Plan, Alibaba, EdgeMarkets
Written by Brian Wang,