If renewables won’t save us – What will?
Goggle which is one of the world’s best known corporations and a leader in environmentally friendly design and business operation had its best Google engineers study the potential for renewable energy to help solve the crisis of fossil fuel energy and it’s CO2 emissions. The result is a stark report that says that contrary to the hype about renewable energy that even if fully developed to their best potential they offer far less than is required to be an effective antidote to fossil CO2.
Beginning in 2007, Google started investing billions to mitigate its contribution to the world’s climate and energy problems. It made its work places and server farms some of the most energy-efficient in the world, purchased as much renewable energy as it could, and offset what remained of its carbon footprint with carbon credit projects. The PR effect of these actions proved to be great.
Google’s took things one step further in an impressive move known as RE<C, (Renewable Energy at a cost cheaper than coal) which as a google sized investment fund aimed to develop renewable energy sources. Google said it would help promising technologies mature by investing in start-ups and conducting its own internal R&D. It hoped to produce a gigawatt of renewable power more cheaply than a coal-fired plant could, and to achieve this in years, not decades.
By 2011 the engineers and investment managers at RC<C had shown that in spite of their best efforts they had failed to meet intended targets and the initiative was quietly put into the closet. Google had discovered at a cost a scores of millions that renewable energy hype doesn’t come anywhere near reality in what it can deliver.
The top engineers who ran RE<C, have been widely quoted as saying, “we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.”
Alfred Spector, Google’s vice president of research, asked the RC<C engineering team to reflect on the project, examine its underlying assumptions, and learn from its failures.
Problem too big and technology too little to help
The Google engineers quickly found a 2008 paper by James Hansen [PDF], former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change. In that paper Hansen showed the true calamitous global CO2/climate situation. Hansen set out to determine, via a complex climate society model, what level of atmospheric CO2 society should aim for “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.” His model(s) showed that exceeding 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere would likely have catastrophic effects.
We’ve already blown past that limit. Today, environmental monitoring shows concentrations around 400 ppm. That’s especially problematic say the Google engineers because CO2 remains in the atmosphere for more than a century; even if we shut down every fossil-fueled power plant today, existing CO2 already emitted, yesterdays CO2, will continue to warm the planet, acidify the oceans, and exacerbate many other changes to the planet’s ecosystem.
Not only had RE<C failed to reach its goal of discovering, promoting, or creating energy cheaper than coal, but that goal had not been ambitious enough to reverse climate change.
What Google concluded are that a mix of everything has to be focused on the crisis of CO2. We must have reliable zero-carbon energy sources so cheap that the operators of power plants and industrial facilities alike have an economic rationale for switching over soon—say, within the next 40 years. Let’s face it Goggle says, “businesses won’t make sacrifices and pay more for clean energy based on altruism alone”. Instead, society and their bankster overlords need solutions that appeal to their profit motives.
So what the Google engineers discovered is that if the mantra for saving the world is “make money, save a little world on the side” the world is going to go to hell in a handbasket.
However if they point out that if that mantra is reversed and becomes “save the world, make a little money on the side” the world can actually be saved.
It’s pretty clear that the head of Google Eric Schmidt might not be able to still own his two super yachts while following the latter mantra; or that the sport of who can become the richest man in the world game can still be played by Sergey and Larry. But hey guys, saving the world is just as fun.
A review of Google’s gloomy engineers report summarizes what the report says,
“Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear.
All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on.
The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.”
To read a very great deal more in the Google engineers report here’s the link.
Now for what will save the world and us.
Google has proven to itself that all of its billions and renewable energy cannot save us while still making a profit and that it is the expectation of profits first environment second that is the plague and reality of human society. What they do touch on in the report is one incredibly important fact.
This is that the amount of CO2 already emitted into the air is effectively a lethal dose for the environment as we have become accustomed to and are comforted by. It won’t be sufficient they note to even curtail our energy use by a whopping 55% globally which they say is an impossible expectation. And they warn that the time frame for the CO2 already emitted into the air, yesterday’s CO2, to destroy the global environment is a mere hundred years or less.
The Google engineers do not offer an antidote but instead repine that an unknown something needs to be done, indeed invented and engineered. It must both act as the antidote for the first lethal dose of yesterday’s CO2 already emitted into the air. And it must also serve to become some new form of perfectly non-polluting energy source that arrives almost immediately and deploys even faster IF we are to avoid sending a second lethal dose of CO2 into the worlds air and oceans.
First off the problem of that hypothetical Google engineering antidote is that it has to follow the known laws of chemistry and physics. The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that it takes as much energy to drive a reaction in reverse as it does to drive it forward. In the case of yesterday’s CO2 the energy consumed driving forward to the brink of the apocalypse that we the Google engineers say we most certainly find ourselves at today is equal to the entire amount of energy burned in the last 100 years of the fossil fuel age. Just where we might find that amount of energy to power up the CO2 monster in reverse is one that engineers are clearly unable to envision. It seems to be an impossible amount of energy to come by let alone come by as clean non polluting energy.
So Dear Engineers at Google and elsewhere, Listen up to some ecology basics as provided by Mother Nature
That total energy burned and fumed as CO2 into our natural world over the past 100 years of the fossil fuel age. It’s just a fraction of the energy immediately available to us in phyto-plankton photosynthesis in the wet 72% of this blue planet. You know the oceans!
Even better Mother Nature with just a tiny bit of our help can help us can be saved from falling off that deadly CO2 apocalyptic precipice we have forced her (and us) to the brink of. This can be immediately deployed as ocean pasture replenishment and restoration.
ONLY ocean photosynthesis of all known or imagined sources of energy is available in sufficient quantity to become the antidote to yesterday’s lethal dose of CO2.
And as a bonus replenished and restored ocean photosynthesis can additionally make the largest possible contribution to intercepting new CO2 that is being emitted today and in all of our fossil fuel tomorrows and preventing that CO2 from becoming certain acid death in our oceans and instead become ocean life and fish that will feed the world’s hungry.
This is not mere hypothetical musing or even a preliminary engineering plan but rather a clearly demonstrated fact. I have begun with my first and the worlds largest ocean pasture replenishment and restoration project in 2012 in the NE Pacific.
IT JUST WORKS, to throw Google a phrase coined by their arch-enemy the late Steve Jobs.
To read more on this just start reading about ocean pastures here… here’s a few links to guide you.
AS FOR TOMORROWS REVOLUTIONARY CLEAN GREEN ENERGY well that is quite simply cold fusion. This site Atom-Ecology is all about cold fusion so your already at the right place to begin. Enjoy. Do something more than just being a spectator. Write to the GoggleGozillionaires and beg them to spend a small fraction of what they spend on their toys and leisure on the right mantra.
Save the world, make a little money on the side!