Wednesday, May 2, 2007

More Depressing News

I was listening to an engineer on the CBC yesterday and he made an off-hand remark that was stunningly obvious, yet which I had never heard anyone say before, and, which has tremendous implications for all of humanity.

This guy made the point that since natural carbon sequestration (i.e. the process by which carbon is taken out of the atmosphere, trapped chemically and then deposited in the earth's crust) is incredibly slow by human standards, if we are ever going to stop a runaway greenhouse effect, the human race is not only going to have to stop increasing the amount of CO2 it is emmitting every year, it is eventually going to have to reduce its total emmissions by an astounding 97%! That's right, only 3% of present emmissions get sequestered every year, according to this fellow's calculations.

Now I suspect that this fellows assertions were a bit overblown, simply because it strikes me that it would be incredibly difficult to come up with a number for the amount of carbon sequestration over the entire planet. But when you think about it, all through the history of the earth there has been some pretty intense recycling of carbon, with the only significant imput of new carbon coming from volcanos and the odd comet strike. What this would mean to me is that the CO2 that gets sucked up and turned into coal or limestone must be pretty small per year or else carbon would have become a pretty scarce commodity. So if his precise number is suspect, I don't think his general idea is.

This means that all the fighting and squawking that is going on with regard to Kyoto is just the begining of a very long fight to reduce our collective impact on the planet.

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