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Aerosol effects and climate, Part II: the role of nucleation and cosmic rays

Filed under: — group @ 15 April 2009 - (Italian)

Guest post by Bart Verheggen, Department of Air Quality and Climate Change , Energy research Institute of the Netherlands (ECN)

In Part I, I discussed how aerosols nucleate and grow. In this post I’ll discuss how changes in nucleation and ionization might impact the net effects.

Cosmic rays

Galactic cosmic rays (GCR) are energetic particles originating from space entering Earth’s atmosphere. They are an important source of ionization in the atmosphere, besides terrestrial radioactivity from e.g. radon (naturally emitted by the Earth’s surface). Over the oceans and above 5 km altitude, GCR are the dominant source. Their intensity varies over the 11 year solar cycle, with a maximum near solar minimum. Carslaw et al. give a nice overview of potential relations between cosmic rays, clouds and climate. Over the first half of the 20th century solar irradiance has slightly increased, and cosmic rays have subsequently decreased. RC has had many previous posts on the purported links between GCR and climate, e.g. here, here and here.

The role of ions

The role played by ions relative to neutral (uncharged) molecules in the nucleation process is still very much under discussion. For instance, based on the same dataset, Yu and Turco found a much higher contribution of ion induced nucleation (to the total amount of particles produced) than Laakso et al did. Evidence for a certain nucleation mechanism is often of an indirect nature, and depends on uncertain parameters. Most literature points to a potential importance of ion induced nucleation in the upper troposphere, but the general feeling is that neutral pathways for nucleation (i.e. not involving ions) are likely to be dominant overall. Most field studies, however, have been performed over land, whereas over the open ocean nucleation rates are generally lower due to lower vapor concentrations. In theory at least, this gives more opportunity for ion induced nucleation to make a difference over the ocean (even though the ion production rate is smaller).

The ion production rate (increasing with altitude from ~10 to ~50 ion pairs per cubic centimeter per second over land) sets a limit to what the particle formation rate due to ion induced nucleation can be. Based on his model for ion induced nucleation, Yu found that at low altitude, the number of particles produced is most sensitive to changes in cosmic ray intensity. At first sight, this may be a surprising result in light of the increasing cosmic ray intensity with increasing altitude. The reason is that high aloft, the limiting factor for particle formation is the availability of sulfuric acid rather than ions. Above a certain GCR intensity, increasing ionization further could even lead to a decrease in ion induced nucleation, because the lifetime of ion clusters is reduced (due to increased recombination of positive and negative ions). In contrast, at low altitude particle formation may be limited by the ionization rate (under certain circumstances), and an increase in ionization leads to an increase in nucleation.

How important is nucleation for climate?

Different modeling exercises have been performed to investigate this question. The strong dependency on input data and assumptions used, e.g. relating to primary particle emissions and nucleation parameterizations, and the different sensitivities tested, hampers an overall assessment. However, it is clear that globally, nucleation is significant for the number of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) e.g. in the absence of boundary layer nucleation, the number of CCN would be 5% lower (Wang and Penner) or 3-20% lower (Spracklen et al.), and in a recent follow up study, they concluded that the number of cloud droplets would be 13-16% lower (in 2000 and 1850, respectively). Pierce and Adams took a different approach and looked at the variation of predicted number of CCN as a result of using different nucleation schemes. The tropospheric number of CCN varied by 17% (and the boundary layer CCN by 12%) amongst model runs using different nucleation rate parameterizations. Note that the globally averaged nucleation rates differed by a factor of a million (!).

It should be noted that the sensitivity of the number of CCN to nucleation depends greatly on the amount of primary emissions and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formed. These are very uncertain themselves, which further limit our ability to understand the connection between nucleation and CCN. If there are more primary emissions, there will be more competition amongst aerosols to act as CCN. If more organic compounds partition to the aerosol phase (to form SOA), the growth to CCN sizes will be quicker.

Locally, particle formation has been observed to contribute significantly to the number of CCN; the second figure in Part I gives an example of freshly nucleated aerosols which grew large enough to influence cloud formation. Kerminen et al observed a similar event, followed by activation of part of the nucleated aerosols into cloud droplets, thus providing a direct link between aerosol formation and cloud droplet activation.

How important are cosmic rays for climate?

At the recent AGU meeting (Dec 2008), Jeff Pierce presented results on the potential effects of GCR on the number of CCN (their paper at GRL (sub. required)). Two different parameterizations for ion induced nucleation were used (Modgil et al and an ‘ion-limit’ assumption that all ions go on to form a new particle). They ran their model with both high and low cosmic ray flux, simulating conditions during solar maximum and minimum, respectively. This happens to be comparable to the change in cosmic ray flux over the 20th century (mostly confined to the first half), and amounts to a 20% change in tropospheric ion production. With both mechanisms of ion-induced nucleation, this leads to a 20% change in globally averaged particle nucleation, but only to a 0.05% change in globally averaged CCN. The authors concluded that this was “far too small to make noticeable changes in cloud properties based on either the decadal (solar cycle) or climatic time-scale changes in cosmic rays.” To account for some reported changes in cloud cover, a change in CCN on the order of 10% would be needed. More studies of this kind will undoubtedly come up with different numbers, but it’s perhaps less likely that the qualitative conclusion, as quoted above, will change dramatically. Time will tell, of course.

The bottom line

Freshly nucleated particles have to grow by about a factor of 100,000 in mass before they can effectively scatter solar radiation or be activated into a cloud droplet (and thus affect climate). They have about 1-2 weeks to do this (the average residence time in the atmosphere), but a large fraction will be scavenged by bigger particles beforehand. What fraction of nucleated particles survives to then interact with the radiative budget depends on many factors, notably the amount of condensable vapor (leading to growth of the new particles) and the amount of pre-existing particles (acting as a sink for the vapor as well as for the small particles). Model-based estimates of the effect of boundary layer nucleation on the concentration of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) range between 3 and 20%. However, our knowledge of nucleation rates is still severely limited, which hampers an accurate assessment of its potential climate effects. Likewise, the potential effects of galactic cosmic rays (GCR) can only be very crudely estimated. A recent study found that a change in GCR intensity, as is typically observed over an 11 year solar cycle, could, at maximum, cause a change of 0.1% in the number of CCN. This is likely to be far too small to make noticeable changes in cloud properties.

309 Responses to “Aerosol effects and climate, Part II: the role of nucleation and cosmic rays”

  1. 201
    Patrick 027 says:

    “so the supply of Ca and Mg cations from silicates could actually sequester (from the atmosphere, anyway) twice what was stated above, while cations from carbonates would take up just what was stated above.”

    Well, depending on actual chemical equilibria, of course, which I haven’t analyzed…

  2. 202
    Patrick 027 says:

    other realities – it may be good to have some targeted incentives for efficiency and clean energy regarding durable goods and infrastructure (appliances, houses, cars).

    political realities: obviously the idea has to be adapted to working on the international level. With respect to that… well I posted some things in comments referenced in the first website referenced in my last comment:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Arctic-sea-ice-melt-natural-or-man-made.html#2799

  3. 203
    Patrick 027 says:

    correction/clarification – obviously the chemical equilibria from http://www.pnas.org/content/98/7/3666.full would be for an anoxic environment. I presume most dissolved FeO in the ocean today would oxidize and precipitate as hematite (Fe2O3) or magnetite (Fe3O4) and thus not be available to react with CO2. But in some other environments, a different story, perhaps.

  4. 204

    William (198),

    I didn’t conclude or disprove anything of the sort you mention, nor did I create a theoretical strawman.

    Other groups looked at related quantities as Svensmark et al and found no correlations. I think the jury is still out on the significance of all those correlations, but the overall picture is not pointing clearly in one direction or the other, as you seem to imply.

    The study I referred to concluded that even with the highest possible sensitivity of nucleation to ions, a change in GCR intensity (similar in magnitude as observed over the 20th century) has only a marginal effect on the number of CCN. By itself, that doesn’t prove or disprove anything, but with this knowledge, the probability of that particular mechanism being responsible for the favorable correlations found has gotten smaller. Unless or until somebody convincingly shows why these model calculations were off by more than an order of magnitude.

    I don’t know much about predictions of the state of the sun, or of how reliable such predictions are. During solar minima the global average temperature is on average 0.1 degree C lower than during solar maxima (according to most studies; some found values closer to 0.2). I have seen no reason why it should be different this time (apart from natural variability which is always present).

  5. 205
    David B. Benson says:

    Miguelito (196) — Shaviv assumes that the oceans are isothermal to a depth of 400 meters. Just some fairly casual web searching shows this is false; 10+ meters is more reasonable for the 10.448 year (average) solar cycle. Since his choice of isothermal depth was so large, he obtained a very small climate sensitivity, hence “needed” GCRs.

    In the opposite direction, Tang et al. (2008), building on Tang & Cabin (2008), obtain a climate sensitivity which is too large by failing to inclusde any isothermal layer at all; suitably corrected (by me), their analysis shows good agreement with their measured 0.17 K from solar minimum to solar maximum without the need for any exotics such as GCMs.

    There is a thread about this on globalchange, linked on the sidebar.

  6. 206
    Ike Solem says:

    Patrick 027, do you know where the term ‘cap and trade’ originated?

    http://tvnz.co.nz/view/tvnz_smartphone_story_skin/81777

    Feb 15, 2002

    US President George W Bush on Thursday proposed cutting US power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury in a bid to reduce acid rain, smog and general pollution, the White House said.

    The Republican president would cut emissions of three of the worst air pollutants — but not a fourth, carbon dioxide — by setting emission target limits, assigning permits for each ton of pollution, and allowing firms to trade them in what one Bush administration official called a “cap and trade system.”

    Such a system encourages businesses to begin cutting their emissions well before the target dates are imposed and allowing them to use the resulting reductions themselves in later years or to trade them to other businesses, the official said.

    Some critics prefer traditional anti-pollution measures that set specific limits that businesses must meet or face sanctions if they fail to do so.

    How about the specific reduction targets?

    Under Bush’s plan, emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, would be cut to 4.5 million tons in 2010…

    Nitrogen oxides emissions, which contribute to urban smog, would be reduced to 2.1 million tons in 2008…

    Mercury emissions, which are not currently regulated, would be reduced to 26 tons in 2010…

    The reductions form part of Bush’s “Clear Skies Initiative” which the president is to formally unveil, along with a voluntary system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in a speech at 2:05 p.m. (1905 GMT) on Thursday.

    So, how did that work out? Not to well, did it? Unless, of course, it was just an effort to appear to be doing something while keeping the status quo – in which case, it worked out fine.

    The only reason you see low-sulfur fuel today is because of state regulations, specifically the 1992-1993 California mandates for low-sulfur diesel. That forced refiners to improve their systems, and it spread to other states – no cap-and-trade was involved at all.

    For a historical record of U.S. sulfur emissions, see:
    Stern & Kaufmann 1996 (pdf) Global Anthropogenic Sulfate Emissions 1860-1993

    See particularly figures 1 and 4 – and remember that most sulfur comes from coal, not from diesel fuel. Also remember that the sulfur was just moved to the shipping fuel pool, not eliminated:

    http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/people/faculty/prasad/research/globalchem/shipsox.nature99.pdf

  7. 207
    Hank Roberts says:

    Gavin, the pan evaporation issue was discussed at RC years ago when it came out in the Australian studies; is there anything new to add?
    _______________
    “Ayers decline” says ReCaptcha.

    [Response: Not really. There was a bit of a shift of emphasis from it being associated with dimming to being associated with wind speed changes in the last talk I saw. – gavin]

  8. 208
    Patrick 027 says:

    I had thought that there was an earlier cap-and-trade program (pre-‘W’) for sulfate emissions that did work – though this is not an area I’ve fully explored.

    It might then (depending on timing, etc.) be argued that California mandates could have been motivated by anticipated costs from a cap-and-trade program (?)

    The idea of cap-and-trade, as with a tax, is to impose a cost for pollution/externality that motivates people and businesses to create more value with less pollution. Obviously that leaves open the possibility of still creating the same amount of pollution, but greater specification of policy would solve that.

    PS I didn’t explicitly mention this before, but public support of clean energy and energy efficiency is one obvious use for revenue from a tax or a cap-and-trade with 100% auction. Even if the cap-and-trade/tax were not expected itself to result in the change we need, it makes perfect sense to me to derive funds for climate-mitigation and climate-adaptation measures from the activity that makes these things necessary. But both the carrot and stick should contribute to the whole effect (it could then be argued that public spending for mitigation reduces the necessary tax to accomplish the same effect; the subsidy,etc. + the tax rate = the total incentive (except where lifestyle changes that are hard to subsidize come into play) – so one could start with a low tax rate for a large emissions volume to heavily subsidize a small clean energy and efficiency market; as the market shares shift, the subsidy rate would be reduced while the tax rate would increase to maintain balance between revenue and spending).

  9. 209
  10. 210
    steve says:

    #207 Hank I had searched for posts on the topic here but kept coming up empty handed. Do you recall where you found the discussion? Thanks.

  11. 211
    William says:

    In reply to Bart Verheggen (204)

    “The study I referred to concluded that even with the highest possible sensitivity of nucleation to ions, a change in GCR intensity (similar in magnitude as observed over the 20th century) has only a marginal effect on the number of CCN. By itself, that doesn’t prove or disprove anything, but with this knowledge, the probability of that particular mechanism being responsible for the favorable correlations found has gotten smaller. Unless or until somebody convincingly shows why these model calculations were off by more than an order of magnitude.”

    Svensmark’s Sky experimental results showed that the same ion is re-used which multiplies the GCR effect by roughly an order of magnitude. The paper you quote assumes a one to one ion ratio for ion mediated.

    I do not know what your source of the 0.1C is for the modulation of planetary temperature high/low solar cycle. That is not correct. As I said, however, during the last two solar cycles there were solar wind bursts at the end of the cycles which remove cloud forming ions which mask the cycle to cycle GCR cloud modulation.

    Based on Palle’s data and analysis, the current increase in GCR (highest since measurements have been taken) there should an increase in low level clouds (over ocean regions which are ion poor) and a reduction in high level clouds. The reduction in high level clouds would result in record cold temperatures at high latitudes.

    Solar cycle 23 is currently 13.8 years from its start and there is no evidence as of yet for a minimum. This solar change is anomalous in the rapidity of the change from high solar magnetic cycle activity to almost no solar magnetic activity. The magnetic field strength of the sunspots that are produced have being decaying linearly. The 2008/2009 weak sunspots are torn apart as they move up through the convection zone.

    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/

  12. 212
    Hank Roberts says:

    William, what’s your source on “almost no solar magnetic activity”?
    Which measurement is your source talking about?

    Looking in Scholar, I find this:

    “… A variety of questions arise in using the surface magnetic fields
    to study the solar cycle – which fields are most important, the weak general field or the strong field and associated sunspots, how do the field strengths change over various time scales from instabilities with changes in seconds or less to trends lasting many decades. The connection between photospheric magnetic fields and magnetic fields near earth or at interplanetary spacecraft requires knowledge of the field strength at the solar surface. Is the overall strength of the magnetic field stationary or does it have any multi-decade trends (cf: Arge et al. (2002))?…”

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/0812.2294
    arXiv:0812.2294v1 [astro-ph] 12 Dec 2008
    Interpretation of Solar Magnetic Field Strength
    Observations

  13. 213
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Uh, William, just how do you re-use an ion? The 0.1 degree value for solar cycle temperature modulation (based on TSI)is pretty well accepted. See:
    solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/presentations/20080227_UAH.ppt

    http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326/4/1/014006/erl9_1_014006.html

    Don’t know if you’ve looked recently, but the correlation between warming and GCR change is lousy.

  14. 214
    Hank Roberts says:

    Steve, type “pan evaporation” into the RC search box, top of page (without the quotation marks); page through the result or go to the found topics and search again using the same string with your ordinary HTML search tool in the comments page.

  15. 215
    Hank Roberts says:

    William writes above:
    > there were solar wind bursts

    Any cite to the source for that statement? I tried Google and the closest thing I found was a William at “Bad Astronomy” who wrote there:

    > solar wind bursts are hypothesized to increase
    > currents in the ionosphere which remove cloud forming ions.
    http://www.bautforum.com/astronomy/68781-solar-cycle-24-a.html

    But I couldn’t find where that hypothesis has been tested or published.

  16. 216
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/1748-9326/4/1/014006/erl9_1_014006.html
    Environ. Res. Lett. 4 (January-March 2009) 014006
    doi:10.1088/1748-9326/4/1/014006
    Solar activity and the mean global temperature

  17. 217
    Brian Dodge says:

    Re reuse of ions
    The graph at http://www.sciencebits.com/SkyResults shows it requires about 3 ions to generate a single condensation nucleus over the experimental range of ~1000 to ~6000 ions/cm3 (~500 to 1500 CN/cm3).

    It appears to my eyeball that the best fit line should have a non zero CN number for zero lab generated ions, rather than going through the origin, but there is enough scatter in the ~15 measured points & error bars to make that moot.

  18. 218

    Since the discussion continues…

    Physics and Technology, Part I of II

    Ike Solem quotes the very last sentence of my two-part post (149 and 151):

    If we take him at his word, he is more than willing to impose increasing costs upon the fossil fuel industry until they either impliment CCS or go out of business.

    … then states in 163:

    1) It is not possible to “implement CCS”, technically speaking. Can you yourself describe a process that would make it possible? One that doesn’t suck up 90% of the power generated by burning a ton of coal? No – and neither can anyone else.

    Ike, I stated at the very beginning of my first post (149):

    Personally, I believe that CCS is snake oil, the industrial equivilent of vaporware.

    … so in terms of my own personal opinion — for what very little it is worth — I tend to agree with you in this area — and wouldn’t mind seeing the whole fossil fuel industry disappear (for lack of a better metaphor) “in a puff of smoke.” However, all of that may very well be simply a prejudice on my part.

    Patrick 027 — who has actually spent some time digging the issue and the chemistry involved — would appear to be of a different opinion — or at the very least, not of the opinion that the whole matter can be settled by “arm-chair theorizing.”
    *
    Now how much is your opinion worth in this area?

    You stated in 144:

    1) One ton of coal leads to about three tons of CO2. That would be the mass component. Second, coal is a solid, and CO2 is a gas – going from CO2 (gas) to CO2 (liquid) to solid carbon requires energy.

    … as if it were obvious that the only way of getting rid of carbon dioxide would be to convert it to liquid carbon dioxide then to coal — as if the conversion of carbon dioxide to mineral could only be an endothermic process.

    From this you conclude:

    That energy will come from the heat produced by the burning coal – but what % of that energy will be required to capture all that CO2? A big coal plant might burn 5 million tons of coal a year, resulting in 15 million tons of CO2 from that facility alone. To capture the all emissions from one ton of coal would require most of the energy provided by that coal – probably close to 90%.

    The 90% would appear to one of your “educated guesses,” but I believe the emphasis in this case belongs with the word “guess” and not the word “educated” since your education appears to have taken a vacation while you were busy writing these posts.
    *
    You prefaced the above logic with the statement:

    The simplest thermodynamic and mass-energy balance arguments show this to be false.

    If your argument were as simple as grounded in basic physics as you would have us believe, then clearly the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can never come down — it can only go up. But we know that it has gone down in the past — from about 3000 ppm to roughly 300 ppm that we live with today. Largely as the result of mineralization — such as the formation of calcium carbonate — which is not an endothermic process.
    *
    In any case, I will let Patrick 027 speak for himself — and on matters of relevant chemistry — as he is clearly quite capable of doing so and would appear to have a more detailed knowledge in this area than either of us or even both of us combined.

  19. 219

    Re Ike Solem (continued from above)

    Physics and Technology, Part II of II

    However, skipping all of both my posts but for the very last sentence of my second post, you entirely ignored my reference to:

    IPCC Special Report
    Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage
    Summary for Policymakers
    A report of Working Group III of the IPCC and Technical Summary
    A report accepted by Working Group III of the IPCC but not approved in detail
    http://web.arc hive.org/web/*/http://www.mnp.nl/ipcc/pages_media/SRCCS-final/ccsspm.pdf

    … where I summarized some of its findings with:

    …in the table “TS.10. Range of total costs for CO2 capture, transport and geological storage based on current technology for new power plants using bituminous coal or natural gas” on page 40 in the section “Power plant with capture and geological storage: % increase in cost of electricity,” I find the figures of 43-91, 37-85 and 21-78 for “pulverized coal power plant, natural gas combined cycle power plant” and “integrated coal gasification combined cycle power plant,” respectively.

    … and as such, you state in 163:

    The only way to remove a ton of CO2 from the air is via a biochar process – and that’s perhaps 25% effective, meaning that for every 4 tons of biochar added to soil, 1 ton stays in the soil.

    …. as if the only point at which carbon dioxide can be removed is once it has become evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere.

    However, looking at the IPCC Special Report (see above), I find below two pictures of power plants the following words:

    Figure TS.4. (a) CO2 post-combustion capture at a plant in Malaysia. This plant employs a chemical absorption process to separate 0.2 MtCO2 per year from the flue gas stream of a gas-fired power plant for urea production (Courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries). (b) CO2 precombustion capture at a coal gasifi cation plant in North Dakota, USA. This plant employs a physical solvent process to separate 3.3 MtCO2 per year from a gas stream to produce synthetic natural gas. Part of the captured CO2 is used for an EOR project in Canada.

    Carbon capture is taking place at the source of the emissions — and the report analyzes the problem strictly in those terms.
    *
    Entirely ignoring the IPCC Special Report, you state in 163:

    It is not possible to “implement CCS”, technically speaking. Can you yourself describe a process that would make it possible? One that doesn’t suck up 90% of the power generated by burning a ton of coal? No – and neither can anyone else.

    But this is exactly what the IPCC Special Report purports to do — in terms of existing technology, as it states in the original quote from page 40:

    Range of total costs for CO2 capture, transport and geological storage based on current technology…

    *
    Now I disagree with Obama. He believes in Cap-and-Trade while I believe in Jim Hansen’s revenue neutral Tax-and-Rebate:

    Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, is one of the leading voices for a carbon tax to address climate change, rather than backing the more widely used cap-and-trade approach. In his plan, Hansen recommends levying a rising tax on fossil fuels and redistributing 100 percent of the proceeds to taxpayers – a “tax and dividend” approach [PDF].

    Hansen to Obama: Support a Carbon Tax
    Ben Block
    December 15, 2008 3:39 PM
    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/009194.html

    Yet I believe that people of good will can disagree in this area. Obama and Ray Ladbury believe in cap-and-trade and I don’t see any reason to impune either of their motives.
    *
    However, you would appear to be arguing guilt by association when you state:

    What’s remarkable is that even though cap-and-trade is unlikely to do anything positive for renewable energy generation, Obama advisor and fossil fuel magnate Warren Buffet opposes it:

    … then quote:

    During his three-hour appearance on CNBC today, Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous investor, described the cap-and-trade plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions which President Barack Obama included in its recent budget proposal as a “pretty regressive” tax…

    … Buffett has said, not in so many words, that Obama would hurt the low and middle income Americans the president sees himself championing since a larger share of their incomes would go towards paying higher utility bills than would be true for the more affluent.

    Well, it would seem that Buffett and his oil-soaked loyalties can’t be that great an influence on Obama’s views regarding Cap-and-Trade if Obama is for Cap-and-Trade while Buffett opposes it. Likewise, I pointed out at the very beginning of “CCS and Obama, Part II of II” (151), Obama has voted against home-state fossil fuel interests before. Moreover, it would appear that Al Gore — who might also be considered one of Obama’s “advisors” — supports Cap and Trade — given his recent testimony before the Senate. Is he tainted by oil interests as well?

  20. 220

    William (211)
    You wrote:
    “Svensmark’s Sky experimental results showed that the same ion is re-used which multiplies the GCR effect by roughly an order of magnitude. The paper you quote assumes a one to one ion ratio for ion mediated.”

    In the Proc R Soc (2006) paper, where Svensmark first reported on their smog chamber results, I didn’t see any evidence of such a multiplication. To which paper are you referring? Note that what Pierce and Adams call the “ion-limit” is already orders of magnitude more efficient in producing particles than the well regarded ion induced nucleation model by Modgil et al. If what you claim is true, there is still some explaining to do.

  21. 221
    William says:

    In to Ray Ladbury (213,) Hank Roberts (215) and (216)

    Ray: How does one re-use an ion? Ions do not wear out. The same ion moves from molecular cluster to molecular cluster.

    “The charged molecular clusters, condensing around ions, are much more stable and can grow significantly
    faster than corresponding neutral clusters, and thus can preferentially achieve stable, observable sizes. The
    proposed ion-mediated nucleation (IMN) theory can physically explain the enhanced growth rate (a factor of ~ 10) of sub-nanometer clusters as observed by Weber et al. [1997],”

    Hank: In reply to paper that does not show correlation between GCR levels in planetary temperature.

    There is a second mechanism by which solar activity changes modulates planetary cloud cover. Solar wind bursts caused by coronal holes create a space charge difference in the ionosphere which removes cloud forming ions. The next paper provides data the shows there is close correlation with geomagnetic field changes (ak) which are caused by the solar wind burst and planetary temperature. The next review paper by Tinsley and Yu summaries the data that supports the assertion that solar activity changes modulates planetary cloud cover and shows how that mechanism is hypothesized to work.

    http://sait.oat.ts.astro.it/MSAIt760405/PDF/2005MmSAI..76..969G.pdf

    Once again about global warming and solar activity K. Georgieva, C. Bianchi, and B. Kirov

    We show that the index commonly used for quantifying long-term changes in solar activity, the sunspot number, accounts for only one part of solar activity and using this index leads to the underestimation of the role of solar activity in the global warming in the recent decades. A more suitable index is the geomagnetic activity which reflects all solar activity, and it is highly correlated to global temperature variations in the whole period for which we have data.

    In Figure 6 the long-term variations in global temperature are compared to the long-term variations in geomagnetic activity as expressed by the ak-index (Nevanlinna and Kataja 2003). The correlation between the two quantities is 0.85 with p

  22. 222
    William says:

    This is further to above comment with a link to Tinsley and Yu’s review paper.

    See section 5a) Modulation of the global circuit in this review paper, by solar wind burst and the process electroscavenging where by increases in the global electric circuit remove cloud forming ions.

    The same review paper summarizes the data that does show correlation between low level clouds and GCR.

    http://www.utdallas.edu/physics/pdf/Atmos_060302.pdf

  23. 223
    Hank Roberts says:

    William, where’s Tinsley and Yu (“Atmos_060302.pdf” above) published?
    (Atmospheric Ionization and Clouds as Links Between Solar Activity
    and Climate).

    The paper you post cites the Yu paper discussed in the initial post above, which is from JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 107, NO. A7, 10.1029/2001JA000248, 2002, and seems to be roughly contemporaneous with it — does it cite anything after 2002 there?

    But the Tinsley and Yu review you link to says at the end “Considered together, the two proposed mechanisms have the following strengths and weaknesses….” and describes both. Nothing is sure about it.

    You seem to be sure their proposed mechanism is correct.
    That was published seven years ago.

    Where is the publication showing confirmation of their proposal?

  24. 224
    Ike Solem says:

    Timothy Chase says:

    “Well, it would seem that Buffett and his oil-soaked loyalties can’t be that great an influence on Obama’s views regarding Cap-and-Trade if Obama is for Cap-and-Trade while Buffett opposes it. Likewise, I pointed out at the very beginning of “CCS and Obama, Part II of II” (151), Obama has voted against home-state fossil fuel interests before. Moreover, it would appear that Al Gore — who might also be considered one of Obama’s “advisors” — supports Cap and Trade — given his recent testimony before the Senate. Is he tainted by oil interests as well?”

    This is not about individual people, really – Warren Buffet was just a useful example. If he took his entire $50 billion fortune and invested it all in renewable energy overnight, it would mean very little against the global fossil fuel system, constructed at a cost of some $10 trillion.

    This is a very important point – going after some individual or corporation is almost useless. If Exxon withdrew from fossil fuels, Chevron or ConocoP would take over – and if not them, some Chinese or Russian or French oil firm would move in. It was Bush who coined the phrase, “cap and trade”, wasn’t it? This is why we need coordinated action, international agreements, and clear government support for a switch from a fossil fuel based economy to one based on renewables.

    This is why Kyoto and Copenhagen are such critical agreements – and that’s also why we need to get a federal commitment to 20% renewable energy generation within a decade, something that China has already agreed to. If we don’t, it will sink the Copenhagen negotiations, because China will demand that we do at least as much as they are.

    Of course, the fossil fuel lobby plan is to sink the Copenhagen agreements, and they seem to have settled on ‘voluntary carbon trading’ as a replacement for binding emission cuts and renewable energy mandates. After all, “you have to be for something”, don’t you?

    Technically, replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind is very possible – but carbon capture and sequestration is not possible. There are many demonstration projects based on solar and wind – but not a single one based on carbon sequestration.

    It just doesn’t work – simple thermodynamic arguments prove that any coal plant that sequestered all CO2 from combustion would suck up most of the power produced at the plant – it would just be a big coal-to-liquid CO2 facility, nothing more.

    But wait – if we surround coal plants with acres of solar panels, they can use that solar energy to run the carbon capture program, and the coal energy can then be fed out over the electrical lines!

    Instead, why not just get rid of the coal plant and use the solar itself?

  25. 225
    Ike Solem says:

    P.S. How are those cap and trade-based emission reduction goals working out so far?

    recall,

    Under Bush’s plan, emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, would be cut to 4.5 million tons in 2010…

    Nitrogen oxides emissions, which contribute to urban smog, would be reduced to 2.1 million tons in 2008…

    Mercury emissions, which are not currently regulated, would be reduced to 26 tons in 2010…

    The second point from Timothy Chase was:

    The 90% would appear to one of your “educated guesses,” but I believe the emphasis in this case belongs with the word “guess” and not the word “educated” since your education appears to have taken a vacation while you were busy writing these posts…

    If your argument were as simple as grounded in basic physics as you would have us believe, then clearly the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can never come down — it can only go up.

    I believe I have pointed out repeatedly that there is only one CCS method that has been shown to work, which is biochar – burying photosynthetically fixed carbon in soil. It’s impossible with coal – you can’t burn it and bury it at the same time and expect atmospheric CO2 to go down. Try capturing the CO2 coming out of your car’s tailpipe sometime – see if you can get it to work. A big balloon, perhaps?

    By the way, the current claim by Daniel Schrag is that “30% of the coal combustion energy is required” to capture CO2 emissions (about 12% by mass of the hot gas exhaust stream) – except that no performance figures from FutureGen prototypes have ever been published – the numbers are probably far higher, and it’s likely that the filtration/separation system is easily clogged or poisoned by sulfur, etc… and if it works so well, why is it all kept secret behind Battelle’s private proprietary walls? No patents, no perfomance reports, nothing but PR from the coal lobby. Thus, I think the real number under life-cycle analysis is far closer to 90% than 30%.

    For more, see previous posts:

    http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/britain-advances-carbon-capture-plans/#comment-55223

    “Consider coal: Southern Co, the Union Pacific and BNSF railroads, and the operators of Montana’s Powder Basin strip mines are the largest coal operation in the U.S. The two railroads move over 500 million tons of coal out of the Powder Basin each year, resulting in 1.5 billion tons of fossil CO2 emissions from that region alone, per year (~1:3 ratio between coal and CO2, mass-wise).

    Now, consider the petroleum refining complex, for comparison: The U.S. consumes around 7.5 billion barrels of conventional oil per year, and that works out to a little more than one billion tons of oil (7 barrels per ton). To move the 1.5 billion tons of CO2 around would thus require and infrastructure just as large and complicated as the ENTIRE U.S. oil refining and distribution system – with the added complication that CO2 is a gas.”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/breaking-the-silence-about-spring/#comment-119608

    “Mitigation would involve the elimination of fossil fuel combustion and also of deforestation. While that would (hopefully) halt the growth of atmospheric CO2, we can’t be sure, because of feedback effects involving soil carbon, permafrost carbon, shallow methane hydrates and the basic fact that a warmer ocean holds less dissolved gas. To actually reduce atmospheric CO2 is very difficult; over periods of geological time the main factor is the burial of photosynthetic carbon. We can also do this using biochar – but all of the so-called “clean coal carbon sequestration” programs are fraudulent propaganda operations aimed at maintaining business-as-usual while projecting the image of change.”

  26. 226
    Hank Roberts says:

    > ions wearing out:

    This paper on is one of several on proposals for geoengineering the atmosphere — this one using with ground-based ionization weather control stations.

    This one says the ions do wear out, and lists three mechanisms; see their fn.4. They cite Carslaw (2002) which was mentioned earlier:

    ARTIFICIAL ATMOSPHERIC IONIZATION:
    A Potential Window for Weather Modification

    Abstract:

    The assumption is made that artificially generated, corona effect ionization should act in much the same way as cosmic ray ionization, with some differences that might make unipolar corona effect ionization a more powerful catalyzer of cloud microphysical processes and, consequently, climate….
    Figure 2- Fluctuations in Cosmic Ray Flux [from Carslaw, Harrison, Kirby (2002)]
    As can be observed, in the above graph, decadal, centennial and perhaps even millennial changes in GCR flux translates into long term weather changes. The correlation is not well established here and is, clearly, an open issue that warrants further modeling.

    Ions produced by galactic cosmic rays are lost by one of three processes (4):
    1. Ions are quickly lost due to a mechanism called ion-ion recombination.
    2. Many of the remaining ions after ion-ion recombination will attach to aerosol, charging the aerosol.
    3. When ion attachment occurs in a cloud, ions attach directly to water droplets, charging the droplet

    Their program is already in operation.

    “In the 1990’s, collaborative efforts between Mexican and Russian space programs eventually led to … their collaboration in an atmospheric electrification weather modification endeavor in Mexico ….
    ELAT technology has been put to work in Mexico since 1996 and the results have been such that the state governments in Mexico have expanded the original network of 3 stations (in 1999) to 21 in 2004. …
    … the Mexican Council on Science and Technology, will fund the continued expansion of the operational network up to 36 stations by 2006. Additionally this federal agency will also fund a research program where ionization stations will be set up with the sole objective of performing further research on ELAT ionization technology and not for operational results …..”

  27. 227
    Ray Ladbury says:

    William, the GCR mechanisms are
    1)still speculative
    2)do not invalidate the known physics of greenhouse warming
    3)are moot, since GCR fluxes are not changing significantly

    I know the last because if they were, I’d have a bunch of very irate customers telling me their satellites are experiencing more single-event upsets. The models used for GCR fluxes haven’t really changed that much in 20 years. They work. If there were a systematic shift, they wouldn’t. That, coupled with the fact that neutron fluxes have stayed within the same bounds for 50 years tends to make me a bit doubtful that GCR mediated mechanisms will demand much change to our basic picture of climate.

    There is, however a much bigger problem with the denialist talking point that GCR are being ignored. The mechanism simply doesn’t work for the paleoclimate or to explain responses to perturbations like volcanic eruptions. That is why I say that while there could be an effect (and the physics is interesting, to be sure), it doesn’t invalidate what we already know.

  28. 228
    Hank Roberts says:

    Cross-reference, Rasmus is asked and answers a question relevant here, over at the Friday Roundup thread:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/friday-round-up-2/langswitch_lang/fr#comment-120828

    Excerpt below, see his full comment there (Gavin, feel free to omit this if it’s not appropriate or unfairly shortened this; it seemed to me worth trying to cross-reference to this thread):

    [Response: The CLIMAX measurements are the data that Svensmark used to back up his hypothesis. …. as far as I know, nobody has demonstrated any link between low-energy GCR and clouds. If there is such a link, the situation gets interesting. ….]

  29. 229
    Patrick 027 says:

    Hank Roberts – Thanks, great source!
    ( http://epa.gov/airmarkets/resource/docs/US%20Acid%20Rain%20Program_Elec%20Journal%20Aug%202007.pdf )

    Timothy Chase – “would appear to have a more detailed knowledge in this area” – thanks for the vote of confidence! – now I’m motivated to dust off the chemistry textbook and look up what the chemical equilibria actually are. But that will have to wait for a little while.

    Ike Solem – “This is a very important point – going after some individual or corporation is almost useless. If Exxon withdrew from fossil fuels, Chevron or ConocoP would take over – and if not them, some Chinese or Russian or French oil firm would move in.” –

    True, although, except at the international level, or for programs that only apply to large emitters (which might cause a number of ‘ma and pa’ polluting industries to spring up, where mass market advantage doesn’t prevent it) – I don’t think it would be an issue for proposed policies in general – depending on how cap-and-trade is formulated. (Concievably, a renewable energy portfolio mandate might also be rendered partly inneffective if loopholes for small energy producers were allowed. Any great idea could be mangled up by the political process if people let it happen.)

    “This is why we need coordinated action, international agreements, and clear government support for a switch from a fossil fuel based economy to one based on renewables.”

    YES!

    “This is why Kyoto and Copenhagen are such critical agreements – and that’s also why we need to get a federal commitment to 20% renewable energy generation within a decade, something that China has already agreed to. If we don’t, it will sink the Copenhagen negotiations, because China will demand that we do at least as much as they are.”

    Having a renewable energy portfolio mandate (and efficiency mandates, energy-related updates on housing and building codes (e.g. All new buildings of this size and category should have at least this area of solar power rooftop devices (as a function of local climate, latitude, planned usage) – wherein landscaping causes shadowing or bird excrement issues, lower-tech options (skylights with good insulation, water heaters) can substitute for solar PV, etc… solar PV should be combined with solar heating when the cost for ____ is less than ____ … and roofs should be sloped and oriented to maximize benifites; in warm climates, light-colored interiors (including carpets) should be encouraged (tax rebate?) to reduce the interior heating caused by interior lighting, and windows and skylights should reflect (or have controllable exterior shades to reflect)solar IR and solar UV unless they are luminescent concentrating devices that use such wavelengths – and/or poleward facing vertical and sloped windows/skylights used to allow diffuse solar radiation in which is depleted in solar IR… And heat exchangers should be used to preheat and precool water and air, etc…, geothermal or other themal storage devices, etc, where ground material allows it…, waste heat from fuel cells fed by natural gas pipelines should be utilized… refrigerator heat output should face exterior-connected duct for winter advantages…(?)) should be entirely compatable with forced price signals – one merely plans out what the other is designed to encourage. Because of the higher up-front costs and difficulty in changing habits, and legacy issues of making poor choices now (it costs more, including psychologically, to remodel a home), I would be especially supportive of such mandates/planning of durable goods and infrastructure (but one should be careful not to inadvertantly make something that would be a good idea harder to do – as has been or is an issue with the recycling of some hazardous waste (?)).

    Regarding international issues…

  30. 230
    Patrick 027 says:

    “solar UV” – no, maybe let some of that in? (a natural disinfectant, vitamin D source, but not too much (cancer, fading of colors) – bearing in mind wavelength-dependent properties)…

  31. 231
    Ike Solem says:

    P.P.S.

    For some positive news:
    http://www.solardaily.com/reports/Exelon_And_Sunpower_To_Develop_Large_Urban_Solar_Power_Plant_999.html

    Exelon was one of Obama’s largest backers, historically speaking, so any move towards solar on their part is definitely a good sign. The question is, will bailout/stimulus money dedicated to any such projects also be matched by real changes in institutions like the DOE?

  32. 232

    This is in response to Ike Solem’s 224

    Politics and Economics, Part I of II

    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    This is not about individual people, really – Warren Buffet was just a useful example.

    I appreciate hearing you say this, and I would extend this principle to those who I admire, including Hansen, Gore and Obama.
    *
    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    This is a very important point – going after some individual or corporation is almost useless. If Exxon withdrew from fossil fuels, Chevron or ConocoP would take over – and if not them, some Chinese or Russian or French oil firm would move in.

    I agree. This is why I would recommend tariffs on the products of those countries which do not effectively limit their emissions by means of either cap-and-trade or (preferably) tax-and-rebate.
    *
    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    It was Bush who coined the phrase, “cap and trade”, wasn’t it?

    Apparently not unless he coined it back in 1991. But it wouldn’t matter, would it, since this is not about individual people. Hitler could have coined the phrase — and this would be entirely irrelevant to whether “cap and trade” was a valid approach.
    *
    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    This is why we need coordinated action, international agreements, …

    I agree. And yet we don’t need everyone to come on board at the beginning – if most of the developed world is willing to apply tariffs to those countries that do not come on board at that point.

    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    … and clear government support for a switch from a fossil fuel based economy to one based on renewables.

    At this point I have to agree with Hansen, Gore and Obama. Like Hansen and Gore, I am at least skeptical of CCS — skeptical of the view that it can be implimented within the next few years rather than in decades. Like all three, I believe that we should throw our support behind renewables. But like all three, I also believe that we do not need to eliminate the fossil fuel industry so much as penalize it for its carbon emissions, either in the form of cap and trade, or as Hansen and I would prefer, impliment a revenue neutral tax-and-rebate approach. Either they are able to ultimately able to impliment CCS or they will cease to exist — as either cap-and-trade or tax-and-rebate are ratcheted up each year to…

    [1:56] … create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented whatever power plants are being built that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps [or taxes] that are placed that are imposed every year.

    … my transcription of Obama’s words in comment 397
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=657#comment-116158

  33. 233
    Anne van der Bom says:

    James, 21 April 2009 at 3:09 PM:

    But in many places the winds will be calm before dawn through the morning. and blow in the afternoons & evenings

    This is only close to the surface, due to resistance from surface features (trees, hills, buildings). Higher up in the air (where the large wind turbines are), the wind blows much more constantly and is only determined by high and low pressure systems, not by the sun.

  34. 234

    Re Ike Solem (continued from above)

    Politics and Economics, Part II of II

    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    Of course, the fossil fuel lobby plan is to sink the Copenhagen agreements, and they seem to have settled on ‘voluntary carbon trading’ as a replacement for binding emission cuts and renewable energy mandates. After all, “you have to be for something”, don’t you?

    John McCain to the contrary not withstanding, there is no such thing as voluntary “cap and trade” since under “cap and trade” the “right to pollute” in a certain quantity is treated as as a “property right” recognized and enforced by government action. Under a strictly voluntary system, given the incentives of the free market and the externalities that are implied, if someone were to “voluntarily” limit their emissions in a way that was inconsistent with the profit motive, they would be handicapping themselves in the marketplace. As a matter of the efficiency of the free market at discovering and applying the most “efficient” means possible of achieving the ends chosen by consumers, those who chose not to tie their hands in this fashion would win out in the long-run.
    *
    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    Technically, replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind is very possible…

    I wouldn’t disagree, particularly once you start penalizing the fossil fuel industry for its emissions.

    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    … – but carbon capture and sequestration is not possible.

    As I pointed out in 151 and 219, the IPCC has a report which strongly suggests otherwise.
    *
    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    There are many demonstration projects based on solar and wind – but not a single one based on carbon sequestration.

    What were the two plants that the IPCC Special Report had pictures of followed by the text:

    Figure TS.4. (a) CO2 post-combustion capture at a plant in Malaysia. This plant employs a chemical absorption process to separate 0.2 MtCO2 per year from the flue gas stream of a gas-fired power plant for urea production (Courtesy of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries). (b) CO2 precombustion capture at a coal gasifi cation plant in North Dakota, USA. This plant employs a physical solvent process to separate 3.3 MtCO2 per year from a gas stream to produce synthetic natural gas. Part of the captured CO2 is used for an EOR project in Canada.

    … that I pointed to in 219?
    *
    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    It just doesn’t work – simple thermodynamic arguments prove that any coal plant that sequestered all CO2 from combustion would suck up most of the power produced at the plant – it would just be a big coal-to-liquid CO2 facility, nothing more.

    As I pointed out in 219, your “simple thermodynamic argument” would prohibit the prehistoric mineralization of atmospheric carbon dioxide which quite clearly took place after the ~3000 ppm of the Permian-Triassic Extinction.
    *
    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    But wait – if we surround coal plants with acres of solar panels, they can use that solar energy to run the carbon capture program, and the coal energy can then be fed out over the electrical lines!

    I didn’t see any solar panels in the pictures that were included in the IPCC Special Report. Perhaps you could look at it (I provided a link) and tell me whether you see any.
    *
    Ike Solem wrote in 224:

    Instead, why not just get rid of the coal plant and use the solar itself?

    As suggested above, personally I agree. I don’t think that CCS will work on a large scale, but if the fossil fuel industry wishes to commit the resources to prove me wrong and faces increasingly stiff penalties until either they succeed or go out of business, I will be satisfied.

  35. 235
    Hank Roberts says:

    Does anyone studying the topic here (that is, aerosols, not policy)
    have a “citation map” of the aerosol-and-cosmic-ray papers?

    It’s hard to follow any individual claim through the chain of references and cites — seems some of them are preliminary or hypothetical in the research, but being claimed as fact by enthusiasts.

  36. 236
    Hank Roberts says:

    Aha, some are — Sage offers citation maps now.
    http://online.sagepub.com/
    Registration is free.
    Example (not sure this will show up for others, try it)

    http://hol.sagepub.com/citemap/images/sphol_14_1_45,10.gif

    What is it?
    Citation Map is a graphical representation of the articles citing or cited by your selected article. The map is based on the references found in the full text articles of the HighWire-hosted journals. … What it does:
    Given a starting reference, Citation Map finds all articles related by citations either citing the article, or cited by the article. The result set is expanded outward from the starting article to make a collection of all the articles related by citation to the starting article. By noting the number of times each article in the collection is cited, the related papers with the greatest impact are graphed, along with the citing/cited-by relations among the articles in the collection. …

  37. 237
    Ike Solem says:

    Let’s explain why biochar can reduce atmospheric CO2 via carbon sequestration, but coal cannot.

    http://community.nytimes.com/blogs/comments/dotearth/2009/04/17/co2-pollution-now-what.html?permid=2#comment2

    Consider CO2 and CH4 produced by cows – that CO2 came from grass cellulose, which was removed from the atmosphere by photosynthesis the year before. That is a closed loop that does not alter atmospheric CO2.

    Now, consider CO2 and CH4 from coal or oil production. This is new carbon that has not seen the actively recirculating carbon pool for millions of years – and adding it to the atmosphere and oceans thus tends to raises the levels of all the carbon pools – soil, biomass, water and atmosphere, which are continually mixing with one another. CO2 is a gas, so whatever cannot be absorbed by oceans and biomass is left in the atmosphere.

    Thus, if you capture and bury 10-20% of the carbon from photosynthetically produced biofuels using a biochar process, you are actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere – quite slowly, though (think of a corn plant as a barrel of oil; 80% becomes fuel, and 20% becomes asphalt). Plenty of jobs for the hydrocarbon engineers, I think… (petroleum and biofuel chemists and engineers are really doing the same thing, but with different raw materials :) )

    Now, if you do this with coal, you are starting with a rock that has sat in the ground for well over 100 million years, in most cases. If you capture 50% of your CO2 emissions, you are still dumping fossil CO2 into the atmosphere.

    So, for cap and trade, the only real carbon credits should come from biochar projects, as that is the only current way to remove fossil CO2 from the atmosphere. The ratio of credits to fossil fuels would be something like 1:1000, I suppose, meaning everyone would have to shut off their energy systems and die of cold, heat, thirst, etc. That’s why renewable energy replacements for coal-fired power are the only plausible strategy – but a solar panel doesn’t bury any CO2, does it? How is it that solar has been called an ‘offset’ for new fossil fuel plants?

    Now, let’s consider the second sticking point: energy costs for carbon capture from coal. After much searching, I’ve only found one document that describes technical details involved in FutureGen:

    Advanced Process Engineering Co-Simulation of the FutureGen Power and Hydrogen Production Plant

    Stephen E. Zitney
    National Energy Technology Laboratory
    Morgantown, West Virginia
    http://www.netl.doe.gov

    http://www.nt.ntnu.no/users/skoge/prost/proceedings/aiche-2005/topical/pdffiles/TE/papers/378c.pdf

    Please download the pdf and take a look at Figure 2, “FutureGen” – follow from the left, and look at all the energy input required:

    1) Air separation – carried out to produce a stream of pure O2 to burn the coal powder in. Modern coal plants easily go through 100 tons of coal per hour – that’s a lot of air to separate, isn’t it? Did you know that coal ash is marketable, by the way? That TVA ash spill must be a real gold mine.

    2) Coal gasifier – mixes water, O2 and coal dust to create a stream of gas products – the so-called ‘syngas’ or ‘coal-steam gas’ of Victorian eras, loaded up with hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide – but also H2, molecular hydrogen. Of course, you have to burn some of the coal to do this.

    3) Gas Cleaning – this separates all the sulfur, selenium, mercury, and arsenic from the gas stream, which creates another ‘marketable by-product’… only in West Virginia.

    4) CO2 separation – now, this is the ‘top secret technology’ – ideally, they’d have a mixture of H2 and CO2 in gaseous form, but it probably still be pretty dirty. Again, this is supposed to take place at a rate of 100 tons of coal per hour.

    5) Finally, we generate energy – the H2 stream is burned in a cogeneration-type system involving an H2 turbine linked to a steam turbine.

    6) We’re not done there – the CO2 needs to be either shipped off to a suitable location for “burial” – and we’re going to inject how may million tons per year into the ground? Tons, that is – every year, for the next 100 years, right? Yes, that counts as a farce.

    Each one of those steps, except the fifth one, involves significant energy inputs. Now, they’ve been working on this for over a decade, and have never released any performance data – or even displayed a working prototype, regardless of what was promised in the FAR IPCC. Thus, an estimate of 90% energy loss over the life cycle relative to a old-style pulverized coal seems like a pretty good guess (including clogged filters, etc.)

    They say they have performance data – they could prove me wrong by releasing it, couldn’t they? It’s also odd that a government-funded program like FutureGen would be able to hide their data from the public behind intellectual property laws. Imagine the outcry if climate scientists refused to release their data, citing IPR…

    For more, here you go:

    http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/coal-industry-expects-goodies-from-congress-too/#comment-22841

  38. 238
    Patrick 027 says:

    “over periods of geological time the main factor is the burial of photosynthetic carbon”

    Actually, I think organic carbon burial to rock is about 20% of the total geologic sequestration of C – typically, with large excursions in the paleoproterozoic and neoproterozoic (in between, it is thought that as the surface and atmospheric environments became oxic, the deep ocean remained anoxic and became sulfidic, due to changes in the sulfur cycle caused by changes in the oxygen cycle due to the increasing atmospheric oxygen levels).

  39. 239
    Patrick 027 says:

    … the rest of geologic sequestration is chemical weathering of Ca,Mg bearing silicate rocks to produce carbonate minerals (with some back and forth as carbonate minerals can be dissolved and precipitated).

    Geologic outgassing involves oxydation of organic carbon in rocks, and the reaction:

    carbonate minerals + some silicate minerals (such as quartz) -> CO2 + other silicate minerals (such as olivine, pyroxenes)

  40. 240
    Hank Roberts says:

    Another factor to add to the mix:

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ngeo499.html
    Lead-bearing particles and ice formation
    Letter by Cziczo et al.

    “… Field-based measurements of ice-crystal residues, together with controlled environment experiments on artifical clouds, suggest that anthropogenic lead-containing particles are among the most efficient ice-forming substances in the atmosphere.”

    Hat tip to Terradaily, which has a news story:
    http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Clouds_Lighter_Than_Air_But_Laden_With_Lead_999.html

    “…. the team turned to a lab in Germany that houses a cloud chamber three stories tall, as well as a smaller chamber in Switzerland. They created dust particles that were either lead-free or contained one percent lead by weight, which is about what scientists find in the atmosphere.

    … lead changed the conditions under which clouds appeared. The air didn’t have to be as cold or as heavy with water vapor if lead was present. “Most of what nucleates clouds are dust particles,” said Cziczo. “Half of the ones we looked at had lead supercharging them.”

    … the researchers simulated the global climate with either lead-free dust particles floating around, or with either 10 percent or all of them containing lead.

    The computer simulation showed that the clouds they looked at – typically high, thin clouds – formed at lower altitudes and different locations in the northern hemisphere when lead was present in dust particles. … ”

    —-end excerpts, click the links for the full articles

  41. 241
  42. 242
    Patrick 027 says:

    In both organic carbon burial and inorganic geological sequestration (although the later may be biologically mediated – chalk, etc. (PS diatoms, foraminifera, radiolarians, coccolithophores – 2 have silica skeletions, 2 have carbonate skeletons; don’t know which is which except that the last one is in chalk)); there can obviously be various degrees of burial from the upper ocean and atmosphere that do not make it all the way to actual storage in rock, and the geological sequestration rate will be a net flow through the stages:

    photosynthesis, (some respiration/other loss) plants/phytoplankton (some respiration/other loss) animals, zooplankton, soil and sinking into the deep ocean (some oxydation, methanogens… oxidation in deep ocean leaves CO2 in deep ocean until upwelling) … sedimentation (some losses) … burial (some losses if porous, etc…)… rock.

    CO2 + silicate minerals with Ca, Mg, etc. cations … sand, etc, + ions in water, some back and forth between ions and precipitated carbonate minerals … carbonate minerals buried.

    As the organic carbon cycle is mainly driven by sun (there’s also the hydrothermal ecosystem metabolic pathways), geochemical cycles involve shifts in chemical equilibria that are temperature (and maybe pressure) dependent, so that CO2 release is favored at higher temperatures and carbonate mineral formation is favored at lower temperatures; ultimately it is driven by geothermal energy.

    —————
    About sulfidic oceans:

    “Proterozoic Ocean Chemistry and Evolution: A Bioinorganic Bridge?”
    Anbar, Knoll
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/297/5584/1137

  43. 243
    William says:

    In reply to Ray Ladbury (227)

    “William, the GCR mechanisms are
    1) still speculative
    2) do not invalidate the known physics of greenhouse warming
    3) are moot, since GCR fluxes are not changing significantly”

    Ray you need to get out more. Have you being following the recent solar changes? We are going to have some real world data to answer your scientific questions.

    Neutron counts are the highest ever measured.

    http://cr0.izmiran.rssi.ru/oulu/main.htm

    Solar wind speed and density is the lowest since space based measurements began in 1960’s. Cycle 23 sunspots are still being observed and cycle 24 is appears to be stalling.

    And, not surprisingly there are observed changes. The earth’s ionosphere has shrunk by 35% in the night time and 16% in the day time. I would assume this change has something to do with the recent changes in the sun.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081215121601.htm

    Quote:
    CINDI’s first discovery was, however, that the ionosphere was not where it had been expected to be. During the first months of CINDI operations the transition between the ionosphere and space was found to be at about 260 miles (420 km) altitude during the nighttime, barely rising above 500 miles (800 km) during the day. These altitudes were extraordinarily low compared with the more typical values of 400 miles (640 km) during the nighttime and 600 miles (960 km) during the day.

    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/01apr_deepsolarminimum.htm?list196994

    “2008 was a bear (My comment. Number of sunspots. Analogy to stock market.). There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year’s 366 days (73%). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days: plot. Prompted by these numbers, some observers suggested that the solar cycle had hit bottom in 2008.

    Maybe not. Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March 31st, there were no sunspots on 78 of the year’s 90 days (87%). It adds up to one inescapable conclusion: “We’re experiencing a very deep solar minimum,” says solar physicist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center.”

    “This is the quietest sun we’ve seen in almost a century,” agrees sunspot expert David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center.”

  44. 244
    Patrick 027 says:

    Ike Solem – I am certainly not pinning all my hopes on carbon sequestration; however, it might be a contributor to the total effort.

    We need energy. Provided that energy conservation and efficiency are also pursued, any decrease in emission per unit net energy generation is good.

    Suppose 50 % of energy from coal is used in carbon sequestration for emissions from the same coal. Then it would take twice the coal to produce the same energy, but that would still be a zero C energy resource. Whether it should be pursued depends on the cost – is it more or less expensive to relace that energy generation with solar, or wind, or biofuels, or waves, currents, tides, hydroelectric, geothermal, energy efficiency, nuclear, or natural gas with C sequestration, or just emitting the CO2 from the coal combustion but using the 1/2 the energy to sequester C from another source, etc… (PS coal itself is rather inexpensive (as of now), but if all electric power costs scale with coal usage, the above scenario would double the cost of coal electricity, which bring solar electricty closer to being competitive if not actually cross that threshold. On the other hand, the price of coal could increase with other regulations – to further decrease other air pollutants, including mercury, to increase miner safety, to increase pollution directly from mining, and to limit landscape degredation (James Hansen has pointed out that mountaintop-removal mining actually degrades the wind energy resource of West Virginia).

    Costs and benifits for a given general process will not be the same for all non-identical applications. For example, a coal plant that just happens to sit on an ideal site for CO2 burial (perhaps close to an olivine mine or old salt mine, etc.) might find it economical to sequester it’s own emissions before many other coal power plants would be able to do so. Such coal power plants (or those that are also in cold, cloudy climates) might be the surviving coal power plants after all others have been replaced by solar, wind, etc. On the other hand, if a solar power plant owner makes a bid for the abandoned salt mine (to use for energy storage by compressed air?), and is able to out-compete the coal power plant’s bid, then the coal power plant might be forced out of business. Or, a technology might arise where the coal power plant is able to pay it’s taxes by outsourcing C sequestration to a biochar operation or olivine dust ocean dispersal operation (which would also earn money for C sequestration at the same tax rate), etc…

  45. 245
    Patrick 027 says:

    _____________________________

    So what I would support:

    Either cap-and-trade with nearly 100% auction, or tax, applied to emissions type A (direct industrial emissions, point sources, etc. – CO2 from fossil fuel combustion and cement production, methane emissions from fossil fuel industry, methane from landfills?, black carbon aerosols, etc.)

    Either the above or some other approach to regulate type B emissions (PS I just made up the type A and B designations): deforestation and land use changes, including rice paddies, also cows, etc.).

    The idea being that type A emissions are easier to track.

    Example: Emissions from production of energy used in farming would be realized by the farmer via the price signal of goods and services used, whereas emissions from fertilizer use, deforestation, etc, would have to be charged to the farmer.

    For fossil C emissions (fuel combustion and cement made from carbonates), it is a simpler matter to regulate the fossil C at some point in the flow before emission, and to do so at points with fewer larger transactions to minimize effort of regulation, perhaps reducing opportunities for corruption and fraud. For example, at point of mining or at point of sale to distributors (for consumer end use) and power plants (where end use is electricity or heat and electricity). When the potential-fuel flow is taxed, points further in the flow where fossil C appears in a product (plastics, asphalt), a rebate could or should be applied; however, if those products are later incinerated (or otherwise oxydized within a relevant time frame), the tax would then reapply.

    Activities to sequester C should be subsided at the same tax rate used for C in CO2 emissions – however, this should not *generally* include abiotic sequestration into the ocean without accompanying ocean pH buffering (if it could even be down with such buffering), or biotic sequestration without accompanying adjustment for ecological costs. Adjustments to the subsidy rate should be made according to best estimates and uncertainty about effectives, reliability.

    If any technology were developed to enhance the oxidation rate of CH4 in the atmosphere (or near sources), then that could also be subsidized as a function of it’s climatic effect. Obviously, the use of CH4 from landfills as an energy source would qualify for such a subsidy and would also profit as an energy source (presumably most such C is not fossil C); of course, the subsidy should only apply if the landfill that produces the CH4 is still being charged for it; put together the total operation is simply emission neutral. Unfortunately, it may be impractical to produce energy from cow and rice paddy emissions.

    Reforestation could be subsidized. Aforestation might be subsidized, although there may be an adjustment for albedo changes (albedo changes could be taxed/subsidized in general, but in general it may be too small a factor to justify the policy effort – unless someone finds an affordable and environmentally friendly way to cover the arctic with a white tarp (or a sheet of TiO2 that catalyzes oxydation of CH4).

    Reduction in methane emissions by degrading natural wetlands, etc, must not be eligible for such subsidy and/or otherwise discouraged.

    On that note, some funding for ecosystem and biodiversity protection from climate-change could also be funded from tax/cap-and-trade revenue. This might involve some transplantation efforts (spreading seeds). This would fall under B. below. It is related to geoengineering, which falls under A. below. There may be overlaps between sequestration (A. below), geoengineering (A. below), ecology and biodiversity protection (B. below), and more direct human economy adaptation (B. below).

    ———

    As the climate changes, some ecosystems may become net emitters of greenhouse gases. It is important that the relevant caretakers of the land not be penalized for climate-induced emissions, and not be charged for doing nothing to stop it (consider what a different policy could mean for wilderness areas). However, they should be encouraged to make the best of it, to take steps to minimize such emissions, and be discouraged from taking actions that increase the risk of greater climate-induced emissions.

    Increasing demand for biofuels must not be allowed to cause much habitat destruction (deforestation, etc). However, a type of biofuel that can grown by destroying or degrading rainforest, etc, should not be blanketly discouraged if it can also be grown in more environmentally friendly ways.

    Other costs of coal are cause for additional regulation, to reduce other air pollutants (mercury pollution), to reduce water pollution, to reduce landscape degradation, including the degradation of the wind resource in West Virginia by mountaintop removal mining. Areas already mined might be used to sequester CO2 (deep mines) or covered by solar power plants, etc. (strip mining).

    ———

    Besides sequestration, Revenue spending can go to

    A. other climate-change (and ocean-acidification) mitigation R&D and subsidies
    B. climate-change (and ocean-acidification) adaptation and R&D and cost reparation (e.g. propery value losses)
    C. economic adaptation cost cushion (with sunset clauses)(this would include aid to poor people to the extent that the tax/cap-and-trade is a regressive tax)
    D. equal per capita rebate (“cap-and-dividend” – James Hansen)
    E. pay for cuts in other taxes (indirect rebate).

    B. and C. – it is important to formulate these policies to reward benificial adaptation and not encourage costs.

    (FEMA could be restructured in the same way – some funding would come from taxes for any uninsured risks (or those risks that are above some background level) (discourages risk-taking except where the benifit outweighs the expected cost).)

    For example, if a farmer’s property value decreases due to climate change, a one-time payment for each one-time change due to climate change could be made (as opposed to a continual subsidy to continue operations, which could have a moral hazard/perverse incentive). This would amount to the entire initial value of the farmland if it had to be abandoned with no sale. However, the change in property value must be determined by actual value – which is determined by the options the farmer has to adapt – shift crop types and breeds, planting times, rotations, etc, change irrigation practices, etc.

    (As it is, farmers (those who work for large-scale industrial agriculture, anyway) are not encouraged to adapt to interannual and other weather variations as much as they could (see p.132, “Against the Grain” by Richard Manning, North Point Press, New York, 2004 (paperpack)). A point should be made of having backup options for crop rotations and for crop marketability (for damaged and diseased crops – for example, biofuels).

    A. – besides geoengineering and sequestration (R&D and subsidy), includes: energy and energy efficiency R&D and subsidies and land-use emissions reduction R&D and subsidies.
    ———
    (An argument could be raised that if the tax rate by itself is at the level justified given the cost of climate change (including ecosystem services
    —(including aesthetic and scientific values, including biome and landscape diversity) and biodiversity resources (medicine, materials, and new crop breeds (and pollinators, natural pest control options) to adapt to climate, pests and disease…))—,
    then public funding for energy and efficiency may be going too far. However, there is also the matter that we have to now make up for lost time. Anyway, some adjustment to lower emissions taxes could be justified by this spending, just to the point where there is sufficient revenue for the subsidies and public R&D funding along with other revenue purposes, given the market shares of both emitting activities and their non-emitting or reduced-emitting competitors; so that as the reduced/non-emitting competitors gain in relative market share, the public funding rate per unit market share would be reduced while the emissions tax rate would increase to maintain a balance in revenue and spending. One must be careful with reducing the emission price signal, however, because subsidies may not be able to practically cover all the possible emissions-reducing adaptations that the emission price signal would encourage.)
    ———
    For energy-related emissions, this would including R&D and subsidies for clean-energy-producing, clean-energy-compatable, and energy-efficient durable goods and infrastructure (appliances, cars, homes (solar roofs (combined water heating and PV, skylights), luminescent concentrator skylights and windows, (seasonal) solar UV and solar IR reflectors on windows, heat exchangers, etc.), electric grid updates, etc.), as well as solar energy (CSP and PV, including at least some focus on PV materials with greater availability, such as transition metal oxides and sulfides, etc.), wind energy, geothermal energy, hydroelectric advancements (storage, osmotic power where fresh water reaches oceans, thermal storage, waves, tides, currents, OTEC, MHD generators, combined electricity and heat plants, fuel cells, biofuels (algae, perennial native crops (grasses, perhaps), wild flowers, crop residues, damaged and diseased crops, sawdust, lawn clippings and leaves (with possible fertilizer returned to land owners who supply the biofuel resources), waste paper, food waste – expired milk, banana peels, crumbs stuck to paper, used coffee grounds, … sewage, etc.),

    and coal gasification for fuel cells with reduced C emission, and nuclear (fusion?)… but only to the extent that it’s promising.
    ———————
    This can also include R&D and subsidies for changes in land-use practices and technologies (to reduce CH4 from cows (“Beano” for cows?) and rice paddies, to increase soil carbon storage (perhaps by developing perennial breeds) and decrease fertilizer and pesticide use, to decrease the ecological footprint of animal protein production. The later involves corrections to our current policies that favor corn too much (too much government support of grains (when we should be encouraging consumption of healthy fruits, vegetables, beans (lets count coffee and chocolate as beans :) ) and nuts** (Hey, I love bread and pasta as much as the next guy, but…)) tariffs on sugar imports, and related to biofuels: ethanol import tariffs) and awareness that aquaculture operations that depend on feed harvested from the oceans do not increase the total fish/seafood availability and can contribute (from pollution) to the degradation of oceanic resources, as can land-based farming practices. (See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/03/advice-for-a-young-climate-blogger/langswitch_lang/cz#comment-118223 .) We should pursue strategies to harvest the waters in environmentally friendly and sustainable ways. Fertilizing the water can result in destructive algae blooms that use up oxygen – however, prompt removal of algae should (?) leave waters oxygenated and also supply a source of fuel or feed for aquaculture, or management of algae might help a fishery (?)… Not wanting to destroy natural mangrove habitat, could mangroves be farmed for anything (the idea being to make use of saltwater for near shore irrigation)?
    ————
    ** – a cure for nut allergies (allergies in general, actually) would be helpful to allergy sufferers as well as the planet – as would greater awareness that not roasting our nuts may reduce (at least for peanuts?) their allergenic propensities, and in some cases, makes them tastes and feel much better (raw almonds good, roasted almonds bad (for my tastes, anyway) – unless used to make nut butter (very good on a blueberry bagel)). And “Beano” for beans.

    B. The adaptation cost compensation was mentioned above with a focus on farming; buildings and infrastructure (retrofitting, remodelling costs to adjust for changing climate), and moving costs would also be included. There is also adaptation on the large scale which may involve some public planning and investments in (possibly solar-powered) desalination, water pumping, and irrigation projects – a potential use for peak solar power output. There is also a role for R&D for farming, including crops – perhaps breeding perennial crops that are heat, drought, and pest resistant
    (Pertaining to A. and B.:
    Scientific American, August 2007
    “Future Farming: A Return to Roots?
    Large-scale agriculture would become more sustainable if major crop plants lived for years and built deep root systems
    By Jerry D. Glover, Cindy M. Cox and John P. Reganold”
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=future-farming-a-return-to-roots
    or
    http://www.landinstitute.org/pages/Glover-et-al-2007-Sci-Am.pdf )

    and

    A. and B.: Population growth reduction – social security (to mitigate competitive fertility), family planning resources, education – especially for girls/women. Some cultural conditions will present difficulties in this task.

    _____________________

    The choice of whether to have tax-and-dividend or tax-and-fund does not have to be all-or-nothing.

  46. 246
    Ike Solem says:

    Chemical weathering is a very slow process. On very long timescales (much longer than glacial cycles), volcanic degassing and chemical weathering of deep ocean sediments control global CO2 levels – but trying to increase that artificially would again require a huge amount of infrastructure.

    The real benefit of biochar is more in rehabilitating soils than in slowing global warming, by the way. Elimination of fossil fuels is still a necessary first step.

    The problem is not the individual chemistry of photosynthesis and weathering, but rather the scale involved – consider the conversion of 1 billion tons of solid coal to 3 billion tons of CO2 gas – well, the world only makes 100 million tons of steel in one year, as an example. Global fossil fuel emissions are around 30 billion tons of CO2 per year. (7.2 gigatons of carbon per year over 2000-2005).

    The conclusions you get are then a little different from the normal ‘environmentalist’ boilerplate. For example, looking at plastic bags from a carbon-cycle based perspective, converting natural gas to plastic then burying the plastic in a stable landfill is not so bad – at least you are not pumping the fossil carbon into the atmosphere, excluding any possible plastic bag-to-methane conversion within the landfill. If you buy a paper bag and bury it in a landfill, that’s also removing carbon from the atmosphere, in that case photosynthetic carbon. The paper bag might be converted back to methane more easily than the plastic bag, however – so, I guess what we really need are photosynthetically sourced non-biodegradable plastics – the equivalent of lignin – produced without fossil fuel energy.

    That would lead to guilt-free shopping that aids carbon burial – that’s a different conclusion, I think. Just don’t throw the plastic in the ocean, where it all accumulates in the North Pacific gyre.

    That still leaves us with the need for non-fossil energy sources. Nuclear has many issues, but at least it would work (until uranium became scarce), as would solar and wind, which have different issues, but no resource exhaustion problems, give a billion years. Photosynthetically produced biofuels are another limited-scale option, but one that works well with existing petroleum infrastructure.

    In the future, we should be able to make natural gas from sunlight, water and air (or, preferable to air, an enriched CO2 stream). This is still a pipe dream, but the working analogy is the Haber process, which uses N2 from air and H2 from a fossil fuel source to form NH3, ammonia. Instead, we want to make CH4 from CO2 and H2O, by first using solar power to generate hydrogen or something hydrogen-like, consider NADPH, again, followed by carbon capture, i.e. the photosynthetic dark reaction approach – yes, energy costs might be high, but all the parts are there, I think. The benefit is that natural gas is easier to store and transport than solar electricity (the same is true for ethanol, biodiesel, etc.).

  47. 247
    Patrick 027 says:

    From 243 above:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/aerosol-effects-and-climate-part-ii-the-role-of-nucleation-and-cosmic-rays/langswitch_lang/cz#comment-120874

    “to increase pollution directly from mining”

    Obviously I meant decrease.

    —–

    For A. and B.: genetic modification: of livestock, of fish, of crops, of trees (to increase production of the organic carbon compounds that do not decay so much (lignins??)) – I don’t want to sound luddite on the matter; if technological progress can truly help then let it. But can it TRULY help? Breeding is one thing; actual injection of genetic material from one organism into another is different (sure, viruses may do it, but I don’t think it happens all that frequently across species, and a different mechanism may have a different result. Genetic information in the regular chromosome may be handled differently by cellular machinery than loose extra dna… ?)). I just think we need to be very careful about this kind of alteration of nature because once it gets out of the box, it can be very hard to contain if it needs to be (consider taking you-know-what out of a pool). I prefer other options. But I’m not an expert on this.

    PS irreversability is also a cost of climate change – setting aside the time required for evolution and the costs of adaptation (PS adaptation can include discomfort and death), once you’ve entered a new geologic time division – as interesting as it may be – you can’t get back to the geologic time division you’ve left. So don’t be so quick to leave the Holocene/early anthropocene.

    ——–

    Not a fundable cost per se, but we will also need political adaptation – the political will to handle migrations and economic shifts with peace and an honest admission of what is actually fair (the later will be as hard as a diamond formed in a black hole – many many people complain reflexively about anything bad for themselves as being unfair, as if in a fair world they would be King Midas).

    ——–

    On that note: international level:

    Okay, so most people do not want the U.N. to levy a worldwide tax. So how do we do this?

    1. Cap and trade – allows international trade of emissions permits, but initially, the allowances have to be alloted to various nations. How should that be done? In Kyoto, the approach as I understand it was to set a cap based on emissions in a reference year for each nation. This does not make much sense for the entire world, given the diversity of economic and demagraphic conditions. Internationalizing the above approach, the allowances would have to be auctioned at an international level. Would that (I’m not actually sure just now) be equivalent to assigning permits to countries based on GNP or GDP? The later sounds grossly unfair ** -but maybe not if they had to pay for them.

    Who do they pay?

    Is this so different from an international tax?

    Whether it is cap-and-trade or tax, the revenue could go to a global fund that would be spent as suggested above, but at an international level. There would be a net flow of wealth from some wealthy industrialized countries to some poor countries, but it could be justified against accusations of ‘redistribution’ by the fact that it is to pay for climate-change damages inflicted by one country on another.

    PS emissions offsets: in the above structure, offsets are just the outsourcing of C sequestration by an emitting party. However, given the diverse economic conditions of the world, offsets in the form of CDM projects (as in Kyoto) make sense. However, the Kyoto version has deep flaws (perverse incentives). Eliminating payments to emitters, the other problem is that it is hard to say whether a clean development project truly replaces a less emissions-efficient alternative or amounts to a gift. But I’m not sure this is so problematic. 1. It is analogous to the subsidies for durable goods and infrastructure in the domestic version of A. and 2. There are cheritable efforts anyway and except when mismanaged or handled by evil tyrants, they are generally good things; furthermore, such CDM spending might fall under C. above.

    Also falling under C. above would be a grace period offered to poorer countries in which they could recieve some benifits but pay a reduced cost (reduced more than for others during an initial ramp up. Of course, in general, policies with big changes should be phased in and out to avoid too much shock).

    Which brings up another point – incentive to pay into the system could come from witholding revenue from countries that do not participate.

    Rather than having individual parties posess and trade emitting permits and buy offsets, it may make more sense (for efficiency and clarity) to have, in the place of an actual global tax, a 100% auction for allowances as well as trading and buying of offsets on the national level. Nations would then have the incentive to implement domestic policies such as outlined above to pay for their emissions. They could (except in some cases – evil tyrants and such) design their own spending of money they get back for A – E above. They would also have incentives to fund R&D to develop technology to win revenue (provided they share the technology – alternatively they have the incentive to fund R&D just to boost their exports given the demand for technology from the rest of the world.

    An alternative is to have tariffs on imports (preferably proportional to emissions intensity of each item) from countries that are less stringent with their emissions policies. An international agreement could be reached to allow the WTO and ___ to allow this based on some formulation to discourage trade wars (it would be understood that this is the way it is, that this country is allowed to raise a tariff, etc.)

    What about subsidizing exports to such countries? This could be done, too, but in keeping with the retention of incentives, this perhaps should be done at a flat rate and not proportional to emissions intensity.

    If one nation charges fossil carbon at point of mine/well and another at point of sale to power plant/distributor, then things could get confusing; corrective measures would be needed for exports and imports of fuels.

  48. 248
    Patrick 027 says:

    Oh duh!

    More difficult with deforestation (especially since some countries have already deforested plenty without paying) and other land use/agricultural issues, but in so far as energy and cement go (aside from CH4 emissions from fossil fuels):

    Just have each nation owe to the fund an amount proportional to the fossil C they’ve dug up to use or sell (with corrections for asphalt, plastics, etc. as mentioned before).

    —-

    An alternative to grace period for poor countries: a GDP/GNP per capita based adjustment: For all nations with GDP/GNP per capata (let’s call that GPPC) less than $7,000/year per capita, payments would be required at 1-((1 – GPPC/($7,000/year))^1.7) of the standard rate. Or something like that (I pulled that formula out of the air – just thought having something a bit nonlinear would make it interesting, but obviously the desired formula just needs to make sense. Maybe a hyperbola or exponential decay toward 1 would be better (standard rate as asymptote).

  49. 249
    Patrick 027 says:

    With the wealth distribution as it is, C. and D. might be wildly unpopular by themselves. A mix of C., D., and E., could be used, where CDM would partly fall effectively under C. and D., and E. would be some rebate proportional to GDP or GNP (kind of like the 2 senators per state/ proportional representation in the house compromise).

  50. 250
    Patrick 027 says:

    Some discussion of policy here:
    http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/516/Fighting-Climate-Change.html

    I also found this:
    http://www.pbs.org/now/obama-watch.php

    Under “Take Action”, you can send a message to the White House:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/opl/

    So anybody want to start a letter-writing campaign about this?

    Anyway, that’s it for my really big O.T. policy comments here.