How to save the planet and the human race

This is a conceptional article not one with exact calculations. Saving the planet and the human race is going to require looking at the energy problem on a global scale. And I have a solution.

The key to long term survival is making sure the carbon cycle is in balance. Currently we extract carbon out of the ground, oil, natural gas and coal as the main sources. Secondary to this is the creation of methane from our food supply and lastly because of global warming methane trapped in permafrost is escaping into the atmosphere. So you have a LOT of input into the system that far exceeds the ability of the planet to suck it backup through the normal natural process.

The human race will never be able to reduce enough carbon input fast enough to make a difference not with out killing off a large portion of our civilization and rolling back to the dark ages. And because of the run away effect this would probably not work either leaving the planet warming for 10s of thousands of years or longer. And our energy demand is only going to increase drastically in the near future to just be able to sustain us. As glaciers melt key water systems will collapse especially in Asia leaving salt water desalination and large distribution infrastructure required to keep populations alive.

Renewable resources as we think of them now is not the easy solution either. But they will be part of the greater solution with you will read about further down. The problem with Wind and solar mostly is the unreliability of the energy production. Wind can only produce when it is windy, and if it is two windy they need to shut down. Solar requires sun and that disappears nightly. One of the expensive parts of using these technology is the storage of energy outside of production times like at night.

So what is my solution? Use all sources of energy and create a balance and I will explain how this can be achieved. We already have the technology to capture carbon from the atmosphere. The problem is it takes as much energy to remove it as it took to create the carbon pollution in the first place. The only way this will be viable is free energy to power this technology that is intended just for this purpose. And this can not be a carbon producing source which defeats the purpose. The byproduct of this technology is fuel which can be used. Before I continue I should explain how power generation works. For the most part almost all power generation relies on spinning turbines which produce electricity. One of the few technologies that does not are solar cells. Hydro electric uses water and gravity to spin turbines. fossil fuels are burned to generate heat which creates steam to spin turbines, this includes nuclear energy. Solar heat exchanges, those large mirrors focus sun light to a central point which creates steam to spin turbines. So all most all power generation revolves around spinning turbines. On the small scale liquid fuels like gasoline is exploded to create energy for engines.

What we need to do is maximize our solar energy production during production hours to create as much clean energy as possible to reduce our day time foot print. The same goes for our Wind generation in places appropriate for Wind generation. The idea is to limit the production of carbon during those periods of the day where we can. The second part is to use fossil fuel power generation to augment the power requirements which will be at night and cloudy days for solar and during periods of reduced or excessive wind for wind generated power. The day time output of these sources of energy must be triple the demand and energy needs of the population. The reason for this is because the fossil fuel generation stations that augment the power will not release the carbon into the atmosphere but capture it in large storage facilities. When fossil fuel generation tapers down during the day or during peak wind production, the energy created from solar and wind will not just need to power our cities but they will need to convert the stored captured emissions back into a solid fuel. The fuel which will be re-burned outside of peak renewal energy production periods. This turns the fossil fuels used to generate power a renewable energy.

This isn’t energy balance, this is just greatly reducing the amount of carbon emitted Into the atmosphere. Cars, trucks, planes, boats, wildfires and manufacturing will still emit carbon into the atmosphere. The second stage is to build dedicated carbon extraction plants in the deserts to pull out the amount of carbon produced by all those other sources as a dedicated function. Why in the deserts. Using solar mirrors to heat water to spin turbines to generate energy is as free as you can get for the production of energy. Transmission of that energy to population centres at great distances is where the cost comes which is why we don’t see as many of these power farms as we would like. But if the carbon capture technology is located in the desert with the energy production then by day these massive carbon extraction facilities can capture the amount of carbon from the air in the amount of what is generated by all the other sources mentioned above. When enough of this technology is constructed and meets that requirement we are finally on a global equilibrium on the carbon cycle. Of course to undo the damage we have caused we need to exceed this capacity and be pulling out far more then we input.

Essentially my plan calls for use of renewable energy by day/wind periods and other sources by night or stale air periods. Using technology to turn fossil fuel into a renewable source and removing excess amounts of carbon from the atmosphere to undo undo the global warming effect. The energy produced by solar and wind during peak production must be substantially more than required to power out civilization so convert the night time use of fossil fuels back into a solid carbon to keep it out of the atmosphere. We need enough dedicated carbon air extraction powered cheaply by solar and wind energy to compensate for sources that can’t easily be captured like automobiles. And we have to factor in the increased demand on energy to operate things like salt water desalination which is going to be inevitable in Asia to supply the fresh water needs for the populations that rely on glaciers to fill rivers. This technology will also be needed in places that deplete ground water. Large swaths of desert lands are very suitable for the dedicated power extraction and could lead to a very profitable industry for Africa. The extracted carbon is a fuel source that will help limit the need of new extraction from the ground.

We need to continue to become more efficient with energy. But we have to be realistic capabilities. Countries like Canada and Russia will have a higher dependance on fossil fuel vehicles due to climate and geography. Cities like LA, New York, London should be able to sustain electric vehicles much easier. Hot locations will have cooling needs while cold climate will have warming needs. The amount of energy used, how it is used is drastically different from location to location. But with using renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydro electric augmented by carbon fuels using capture and conversion methods we can greatly reduce the carbon emitted into the atmosphere with out making crippling changes to society. A global carbon tax dedicated to the manufacturing and running of carbon extraction facilities is needed. And because the great deserts of Africa provide a great place to do this from this will inject much needed capital and industry to further help a people in need of help.

The next great hurdle is vertical farming and water recapture to sustain food production. But that is a completely different article on its own right. The key point I want to make is we can’t try and be extreme on one way such as reducing the reliance on fossil fuels to renewable sources. Complete reliance on renewable sources will require expensive energy storage technology which in turn makes renewable energy expensive and those storage technologies are not exactly the most environmentally friendly and rely on resources that there is just not enough of to be a global solution. Using a balance of Renewable energy with fossil fuels with smart collection and recycling is a far better approach that is more sustainable.

I will follow up with this article with numbers which is going to take more time to compile.

Carbon Tax is a failure

I am not a fan of the Carbon tax and I don’t think it will ever work in the way it is intended. It is a punishment for a feel good attempt to curb climate change and it affects every one in the most negative ways with little to no benefit. And I will explain why.

When people think about the carbon tax they think this is good, this will cause people to drive less. But the sad fact is most people that drive are not going to drive less because driving is a necessity of life. Is a parent that drives kids to school going to decide one day a week the kid will stay home to save on driving… No. People will just pay out of pocket and for those with the least amount of money it is going to hurt them the most. But say some one decided they will change from driving a car to taking transit. The sad fact they are still paying for the Carbon tax.

The carbon tax affects all methods of transportation. The transit system is not immune to the tax so the cost of taking the bus is higher to support the extra cost to the transit system. Trucks that deliver goods to stores pay the carbon tax and those costs get passed down the chain so the stores pay a higher rate for deliveries and pass that on the consumer. City services such as Police, Ambulances and the Fire Department also end up paying this tax costing the tax payer more money for these basic services robbing the cities the ability to fund other things or increasing property taxes to support the carbon tax. Home owners that have to pay higher property taxes will charge more for rent. Essentially the Carbon tax hits every one in multiple ways which is not calculated. The only calculations people see is the cost at the pump. Not the cost to the fruits and vegetables they eat, the amount they pay for rent and the cost of recreational services offered by the city all having to recoup higher costs from the tax.

This overall increase on everything is the most insidious part of the carbon tax. And one of the intended targets such as large polluters from industry will just pay the tax and pass those costs down as part of the manufacturing cost to the consumer. So at what stage does this tax actually help with reducing pollution when the majority of people are not really doing anything excessive beyond just trying to live a simple regular life.

What I would prefer to see is positive incentives for people to reduce the carbon foot print. Electric car rebates, building code changes requiring the connection points in parking garages for residences to purchase and add charge stations as required. Offer a power rebate bonus at the end of a 12 month period for using less fuel. Offer rebates for companies that allow and encourage working from home. Introduce distance based Transit fares with the first 5 km free for every one to encourage the use of transit for short trips. These are all positive incentive systems that will allow those that can make the change to do so with out punishing the rest of us.

Another alternative to the carbon tax current method of collection is to set an amount that every one is entitled to as a basic exemption based on locations. The way it would work is that you pay at the pump as you do now but you kept your receipt for a 100% rebate that can be submitted at tax time up to the allowed limit. For argument sake say every personal user is allowed 3000 L of fuel per year, then the tax payer can submit tax receipts up to 3000L to get a full rebate back for that first 3000L of purchased fuel. City services for police, fire, ambulance get a 100% rebate on ALL fuel so does public services like Ferries and Transit. The transportation of goods can also be rebated based on the cargo so essentials like Food is not taxed at all. The limit of rebate for trucks could be set to scale based on the age of the vehicle and the vehicles fuel economy rewarding trucking companies with newer fleets that are more efficient with a much larger carbon exemption. Industry that reduces emissions through investment should get rewarded by large exemptions. If a business reduces emissions by 10% the exemption should be increased by 20% for every effective 1 percent of reduction.

While this is not a perfect solution its a solution that does not punish people, allows for basic exemptions that people can attempt to live with in and provides incentives to invest and reduce. The current blanket approach just makes life harder for every one and with a cost of doing business mentality passing down the buck for the increased costs little changes and people suffer.

Ultimatly there is much much more that can be done to reduce the carbon foot print but that is for another post.

Done With Flickr

I want to congratulate Yahoo on a fine job of destroying an asset that was once something really great. I have two accounts with Flickr, my old Pro account which I have been paying for many years and a free account with the new 1TB limit. The option to purchase pro accounts is gone. One of the features in the pro account that was worth paying for was photo stats. In fact this was one of the few reasons I paid for a Flickr account. This feature is removed from all new accounts. And the community is worried that it will be retired from current accounts down the road. Additionally it seems the information from the stats is no longer accurate anyways. So with no reason for me to continue to use Flickr I might as well save my photos on Facebook. Again I want to congratulate Yahoos fine management of Flickr. Some might call it inept or incompetent but clearly those people fail to see Yahoo just wants to kill the service off.

I am so done with Brita Water

It is getting harder and harder to justify the expense of using Brita water filtration. Looking for evidence and sources that conclude it makes any real difference on the quality of drinking water is non existent outside of company sources. Further more, I live in a city with some of, if not, the cleanest tape water in the world. I have decided to yank out the inner portion of the container which houses the filter and use just straight tap water. Doing it this way nets a lot more water to in the container. I have never had a problem with the taste of tap water in metro Vancouver. I do like very cold water. And suspending water in the fridge helps kill off what little chlorine is left from the water. What I do find amazing is how much information about how bad water is but from sources that all sell water filtration systems. I can’t help but notice the incredible biased point of view of these companies that claim_MG_3631mesabar1 tap water is bad while selling products to “clean” tap water. Lastly I was totally disgusted with the bottom of the water container. I have not been tearing it apart cleaning it often enough. I suspect many people neglect that being its not easy to take apart the inner section that holds the filter. And may wrongly assume its just filtered water so you don’t have to clean it often. What ended up on the sponge was disgusting…. I can’t believe I have been drinking from that container with that kind of gross buildup of whatever it was. I only have myself to blame for not cleaning it more often. But still, I think I am going to just stick to tap water for now, save money and the environment because honestly those filters is just another consumable and disposable product that is added to waste disposal when we really don’t need to use it at all, at least not here.


There is some valid evidence that depending on age and construction of a building the water quality can suffer due to the pipes. In such cases maybe a filtration system can make a difference. Reverse osmosis would be my first choice in such a case. I still see little value in Brita which the basic filters only removes chlorine. I also live in a rather new building so the pipes are not a concern for me at this point either.