Monday, December 7, 2009

Carbon Management

One thing that has become clear is that global temperatures are presently delinked from rising atmospheric CO2 levels.  A linkage of sorts may someday emerge beyond the long term linkage between a warmer planet been followed by a rise decades later.  An immediate linkage as has been drummed by certain groups is presently untenable and damned by simple logic.

The earth does not cool over a full decade while total anthropogenic CO2 increases around 30% after a decade of warming blamed of the prior decade’s lesser increase in anthropogenic CO2.

We must deal with CO2 in its own right unencumbered by climate distractions.  The fact is that we have burned carbon based fuels at a present consumption level to materially increase total atmospheric CO2.  I do not think that we are responsible for one hundred percent of the increase, but in fairness we certainly are responsible for most and that which we are not is offset by bad husbandry that lowers absorption in areas.

It is our problem and we need to address it responsibly.

On the other hand, the end of the carbon age is now clearly in sight.  Full electrification is now an imminent possibility.  The supply side is solved today with wind power in combination with solar and geothermal.  This will likely be the backbone of our global economy for the next two decades.  The demand side is deliverable in the form of electrics and increasingly efficient storage devices.  The lack of efficiency is the only present remaining restraint of this energy revolution.  EEStor is promising that efficiency and others are close.

The moment efficiency is delivered, is the moment that hydrocarbon technology is outright abandoned as obsolete as the slide rule and the analog adding machine.  Folks talk about a slow transition, but that is nonsense.  It will be an outright model change and a far flung rapid build out of wind turbines.  Both are able to tap present manufacturing capacity and capital.  We will watch the change over happen before our eyes.

The public is already prepped for it and the auto industry certainly is now aware that this is the likely future because this trumps all other good ideas.

We can say today that it is likely that in the short to medium term, all fossil carbon fuels will be phased out.  If this happens as is clearly now been expected, the fossil fuel industry will find itself without supply problems as electrics simply become cheaper and a better choice everywhere.

That then means that the surplus carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will then be steadily reabsorbed.  Good practice and good husbandry can speed this along.  It is even possible that expansion of the Sahel into the Sahara will demand the production of CO2 from fossil fuels in time.

In fact we have uncovered the environmental wisdom of adding biochar to working soils at a ten ton per acre rate in most cases.  Taken to a logical conclusion, every working acre presently on Earth is a candidate for such beneficiation except for a few minor exceptions were natural fertility needs no assist whatsoever.

The creation of new fertile agricultural lands will all demand the use of biochar to become sustainable.  In the tropics, this will mean little more that converting massive living biomass into biochar with a possible actual loss of carbon holding capacity.  The same equation likely holds true in most living biomes such as grass lands.  So managing water and introducing biochar will produce a stable soil base.

Where imported carbon is necessary will be the conversion of dry lands and deserts into working soils.  As I have posted before, this can be achieved with water and the use of any biomass producing crop such as corn were possible and grasses otherwise.

Perhaps we need to teach a new mindset to the global population.  We need to be conscious of the idea of carbon management.  We can convert our activities into exercises in carbon management in order to sustain a conscious awareness of its ability to optimize our growing environment.

An example of this is that I now am comfortable that I can take a difficult irregular field and establish a bush based crop throughout the field and optimize the performance of each bush.  It becomes merely a matter of providing more biochar to laggards allowing their rooting more support.

It takes longer to beneficiate a field that is meant for industrial grain growing since all the soil must be improved.  But a hill based crop or even orchard based planting can benefit at least in the initial all important grow out period.  Obviously a mature tree will reach out and reach deep to locate nutrients, but this is rarely possible in the earliest stages.

The one reason I have been suggesting the application of the three sisters with biochar production for subsistence farmers is that the procedure gives an excellent food crop from the hills and the waste stover makes biochar that can be immediately used to replenish the same hills at a high concentration.  Assuming rotation to eliminate problems with pests, a decade of such practices will produce a thoroughly carbon enriched soil base able to support even grain crops if desired.

No comments: