What is all the fuss about – carbon dioxide emissions by source – a very simple guide

It is very hard to be accurate because no one has a measuring stick that is large enough, by the planet earth is in a constant state of emitting carbon dioxide – from natural combustion, volcanoes, respiration of animals, land disturbance and by simple release from the oceans (which also absorb carbon dioxide). Mankind (or would it be more correct to say humanity) is responsible for somewhere between 3% and 5% of annual worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.

Why then, should we be worried about anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide which most scientists hold to blame for the rapid recent global warming and their expected future global warming? Continue reading

The Ability of the Planet to Recycle Carbon

An important factor about anthropogenic climate change is the ability of the planet to recycle carbon. It does this recycling using three major carbon reservoirs. These comprise the oceans, the shallow water sediments and the biosphere comprising plants (including trees) and soils. If humans inject more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the planet can recycle then the atmosphere becomes another carbon reservoir. Continue reading

How does dissolved organic matter affect global warming?

It would be useful if we could understand all the influences that affect the carbon cycle of the planet. It would almost certainly help us understand climate change more thoroughly and assist in making better informed decisions about climate change. Carbon dioxide is marked as the villain of the global warming plot, but there is no single villain and probably the most ruthless villain is humanity itself. Continue reading

How forests absorb carbon and how disturbing them releases carbon

 

 

Scientists have good evidence that old forests store more can carbon dioxide than they release into the atmosphere by decay and by respiration. Most believed that old forests were carbon sinks, with the carbon dioxide that the forest stored each year being the same quantity or less than the carbon emitted by the natural decay of vegetation. Continue reading

Biofuels and biocrops; their cause and effects

Five years ago most environmentalists thought that biofuels were unconditionally good. If you grew your own fuel, the reasoning went, you could grow an infinite supply and the carbon emitted when the food was burnt as fuel would be recycled by being soaked up again into the structures of new growing biocrops. Continue reading

Biofuels – we drive and the world starves

 

Sometimes you can only see a picture clearly if you step back from it, so you can see the whole canvas. So it is with energy. Without any doubt we are heading for an energy crisis. The oil will probably peak – that is to say reach its maximum production in ten years time. Oil companies are discovering smaller and smaller fields – not by chance or by accident or a run of bad luck, but simply because there is less oil in the ground to be discovered.

 

The same scenario exists with coal, natural gas and uranium. These will probably all peak at around the same time (give or take a decade) as developing countries ape the habits customs and lifestyles of the developed countries. With this in the back of some politician’s minds (and in the forefront of others) many developed countries are looking for new sources of energy which are, in the current jargon, sustainable.

 

Biofuels – that is fuel made from growing crops – seemed like a good idea at the time. Continue reading

Biomass or biomess?

I wrote the article below for the Building Services Journal, who have kindly allowed me to reproduce it here.

Biomass is on everyone’s list of an environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources, even though it involves burning fuel.  Many developers these days have to comply with the Merton Rule, whether they are environmentalists or not. This requires a percentage of the energy used by a new development to be generated on site.

In developments everywhere, developers and local authorities working together believe that the way to comply with the sustainable on site generation required by the Merton Rule happens also to be the cheapest way – installing a biomass boiler. The theory goes that when you burn biomass to create heat all you are doing is accelerating the release of carbon that would happen if the biomass were left to decay. I am not so sure. Continue reading