Sunday, December 29, 2019

Carbon capture tech: can 5% of GDP cool the world?

Carbon capture technology: practicably end global warming – even reverse it -- for 5% of GDP with a reasonably lo-tech process – once the price to gets down to $100 a ton?

According to a Businessweek article, worldwide we add 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year.  Said article says Squamish Engineering, in B.C., Canada expects to launch a plant that will remove a million tons a year, located somewhere in the Permian Basin in Texas.   Squamish says it can do this for $200 a ton. 

My back-of-the-envelope calculates that, when the price reaches $100 a ton, then, worldwide we can keep cool for $3.4 trillion a year – less than 5% of world GDP.  US kick-in about one trillion – out of $20 trillion GDP.  That figure would grow as US economy grows – but: for every trillion of growth only additional $50 billion would go for removal, leaving us $950 billion ahead: set for the life of the planet.
(closest link I could find)

Even if we could switch worldwide to 50% renewables today, that might only be fulfill 5% of needs 100 years from now when growing prosperity and populations might require 10X more.  Can we really expect to do that much with sun and wind?

The latter is why I thought at first that mostly nuclear was the only way to go – the physics anyway; wouldn’t want to think about the economic and  (mostly?) political barriers.  Then, I read there may not be enough water available in the whole world for the massive hydro needs of reactors – and that is only at 2020’s level of power needs.

Thermonuclear?  50 years from now?  Same econ and pol barriers?

“For two potentially powerful NETs—direct air capture and bioenergy with carbon capture—it’s not enough just to capture CO2. The substance must also be stored. … deep geological formations with the necessary rock characteristics are sprinkled around the globe. In total, they could hold more than 2 trillion t of CO2 … ”  That’s about enough room for 60 years of CO2 output at today’s level.  I would assume less than ideal rock will be available or be discovered – plenty of time.

Can we essentially pull all the entire atmosphere through carbon capture plants?  Plausible.  Another Businessweek article depicts species of tree that grows fully in 10 years and can remove 103 tons of carbon per acre per year.   My calculation that amounts to half a million square miles of planting to remove today's carbon creation.  Carbon capture plants should be able to interface the same volume of air I would think.

Thing is: no impossible (?) political hassles trying to get everyone to switch over to renewable/nuclear -- no radical disruption of econ/pol fabric needed.  Assuming capture can work, just develop technology as fast as possible and put it to work as fast as it finally gets through to all that we don’t want 120 degrees in the shade in the winter in Chicago – no longer any motivational deficits when we reach some point along the Celsius/Fahrenheit scales.  And assuming it works, we can potentially even dial the temperature back, if we want to badly enough.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Workable way to implement Bernies plan to wipe out a trillion in student debt

A way to implement Bernie’s plan for the federal government to wipe out all student debt. How to transition to a European like college loan system: 25 years to pay off — income based — then, forgive for any amount left. The kind of system we should have had in the first place.

Simple: fed gov offers to pay off any college loan amount that you owe — in exchange you agree to take on the European style loan setup. For people just out of school the exchange would be simple — straight forward trade of debt. How to handle people, say, twelve years out of school, who have of have not kept up their original payments, it will take a national conversation to sort out different situations.

The loan switching scheme avoids some of the problems with graduates who have kept up their payments objecting to simple loan wipe out for graduates who have not.