Saturday, April 8, 2017

Global Heating? Well, Do Something

Global Heating? Well,  Do Something
The weather devils have been escaping from Pandora’s box, and the climate feedback loops are becoming self sustaining chain reactions. But, waiting at the bottom of Pandora’s box we still have Hope. Can we can reverse the death spiral that has already brought us: heat waves and wildfires, droughts, superstorms, and floods? Perhaps … if we 1) immediately and sharply reduce the amount of greenhouse gases entering the thin atmospheric envelope of the Earth and 2) rapidly increase the sequestration of carbon and methane in such natural storehouses as forests and coastal wetlands.
In the US, it’s not hard to identify the sources of the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide:  1) the coal and gas fired power plants and 2) the cars, trucks, planes, and ships that transport our goods and us around. We must convince our government to close the coal burning plants and stop drilling for oil and “natural” gas. Wind farms can be installed in a matter of months. Solar panels take even less time. Battery technology has improved so much that electric vehicles have a carbon footprint almost as small as rickshaws.  Government fleets of cars can certainly be all electric. Light rail lines can connect nearby cities and suburbs . Bicycle lanes and walking paths (sidewalks) would be epic. Then, governments can place slow speed water turbines in rivers and tidal estuaries. On oceans, we can establish a merchant marine fleet of high tech sailing vessels carrying American made exports. We’ll call them Clipper Ships. 

Call the roof top solar panels, wind mills, and bicycles “distributed generation” — that sounds official and accredited.

Ten more things we can do individually and as The People:
1, 2, and 3.  Call, mail, and visit our elected representatives (supposedly, public servants), and hold their feet to the fire. 
4.  Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle — in that order.
5.  Plant trees … in forests, parks, and backyards. Trees are geniuses at capturing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it as wood and maple syrup. We haven’t figured that out yet. No, lawns don’t count for carbon storage; they are little better than Astroturf.
6.  Keep and protect coastal wetlands — salt marshes and mangroves. An acre of mangrove captures three times as much carbon as an acre of tropical forest. Require the Army Corps of Engineers to issue a environmental impact statement before dredging rivers or estuaries.
7,  Charge a fee (not a “tax”) for emitting greenhouse gases: diesel generators and pumps, fossil fuel power plants, fitness centers where heavy lifting causes heavy breathing … 
8.  Eliminate monocrop farming, which invariably requires heavy pesticide/herbicide use.  Return to farming that respects earthworms and honeybees. Call it “organic farming.” 
9.  Eat much less beef. Cattle produce massive amounts of methane. The 100 million cattle in the US pass 5.5 metric tons of methane per year.  
10.  Abolish war. War produces plenty of heat and tons of CO2 from all the shells and bombs and missiles that explode. Depleted uranium shells, most egregious, explode at 4,000 to 5,000º F. Of the tanks and planes and warships that merely patrol, the Abrams tank is the most efficient at 8 gallons per mile. Just turning an aircraft carrier around? Don’t ask. 
What is really efficient is statecraft: diplomacy, negotiation, mediation, patience, persistence, and creativity. No matter how hot tempered the disputants are, only metaphorical heat results. If a satirist is among the “honest brokers,” the worst would be a little carbon dioxide from a fit of laughing.
Nature has provided us with more energy than we can use, from:  sun, wind, rivers, tides, waves, and geothermal. The time to use them is immediately, if not yesterday.  Good planets are hard to find.

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