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Resolving Climate Change 1 How innovation can help us solve climate change

resolving climate change 1

I, like many people was concerned about climate change - but in a rather abstract way, it was something that was going to happen way into the future. But when the Queensland floods struck with water running under my house (fortunately a high set Queenslander) I realized that the increase in temperatures - way into the future - was not the real issue, it was the increase in extreme weather, floods and droughts, which are a here and now issue, which are the real danger. Action is needed now – but what did I find when I investigated further?

We are simply not winning the climate change war. The Kyoto targets for the developed countries were based on what was politically acceptable rather than what is needed. But even if they did achieve these targets emission from the developing countries would more than offset any saving. 

We are putting tens of billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year, and despite all the efforts to reduce our emissions they grow every year. 

Sustainable technologies like wind and rain could potentially supply enough energy to meet all our needs but until someone invents a way of storing the energy they cannot provide a viable alternative to fossil fuels.  It all looked totally depressing until I came across a startling piece of information. Vegetation is absorbing some thirty times all man made emissions.

So why is there a problem?  Simple, virtually all of that carbon goes back into the atmosphere by oxidation and decomposition.  The largest emitter of carbon is not electricity generation or transport as we are told - it is simply rotting vegetation. 

So why cannot we divert that carbon so it goes back into the soil, and stays there?

I am an innovator. My most socially important innovation is a system which has the potential to remove large, e.g. gigatonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  It also improves soil quality to make food production more resilient in a changing climate. 

This innovation would enable the wealthy countries to continue to enjoy the modern life style and the developing countries to expand their economies so they too can enjoy this life style without inducing catastrophic climate change.

Does that all seem too simple? Removing gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere is hardly a trivial technology and requires logistic as well as technical solutions.  That is what this book is all about.

 Key words  - climate change, soil, carbon, science, innovation, greenhouse, sequestration

Resolving climate change 2 How the eco corporation will emerge to fight climate change


resolving climate change 2 


Imagine if thirty years ago someone had predicted that in thirty years time (e.g. now) the largest most successful companies would not be the auto makers or the oil industry but companies with odd names like Apple, Google and Face Book who made their serious money not from physical products but from providing services.

 These services would seem totally unbelievable at that time but would include ways in which people could locate, communicate and share massive amounts of information with other people anywhere in the world by something called the internet. Friends would be looking up the local mental institution.

Now I want to make predictions for the next thirty years. The internet age will have matured and stabilised and the next burst of new companies becoming the largest and most successful companies would earn their living by services to manage the environment.




Key words  - climate change, soil, carbon, science, innovation, greenhouse, sequestration





Resolving Climate Change 3 How science can fail us


resolving climate change 3


Don’t think for a moment that with a title like ‘How science can fail us’ that this is a climate deniers delight. It’s exactly the opposite - climate change is real and happening now - it is about how the reductionist approach of modern science is hindering finding solutions to climate change and how the speculative approach of the innovator, using the systems approach can provide solutions.

The problem is clear. Resolving climate change requires a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel use. The economic needs of developing countries and the wish to maintain a comfortable life style in the affluent countries means that simply stopping using coal and oil is not an acceptable option in the short term. 

There is an abundant supply of sustainable energy in wind, solar and wave power but these have the immediately practical problem that they cannot be controlled, the energy cannot be stored and released when needed. Given time the technology could be developed but that could take up to fifty years.  Until this technology is developed cutting back on greenhouse gases by abandoning fossil fuels simply will not happen. 

Embedding carbon in the soil provides an effective way of giving us a breathing space for this technology to emerge. The reductionist approach of science, examining every aspect of embedding carbon in the soil is not going to give us the perfected technology in the short term.  But the techniques of capturing carbon in the soil have already been solved by the innovators approach of developing a system. Even if every minute detail is not understood, the system can be refined over time.

Embedding carbon in the soil means that agricultural practices need changing.  Raising the organic content of soil also has benefits in food security and quality. Changing agricultural practices is easily achieved by developing suitable financial incentives for the farmer.  There are many ways of achieving this, carbon trading is currently the most fashionable but the mechanics of carbon trading schemes have to be simple and accessible for the farmer.

It may be helpful for our policy makers to consider the similarity between the development of the steam engine and resolving climate change.

The steam engine was developed to solve an immediate and practical problem, the flooding of mines.  We have an immediate and practical problem with food production and managing the impact of the increased flood and drought cycle from climate change.

The early steam engines did their job of pumping out the mines, the mine owners did not wait for the science to catch up they acted. Later steam engines were refined by the scientific understanding of thermodynamics developed by Carnot.

Right now we have the technology of how to embed carbon in the soil - it works and can offset carbon emissions. Scientific understandings of the complexities of soil microbiology will no doubt improve with time but we should not wait - we need to act now. 

 Key words  - climate change, soil, carbon, science, innovation, greenhouse, sequestration

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