Tag: greenhouse_gases

Climate change

Not really tech-related I know, but I was appalled over the weekend when I read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s (IPCC) summary report (pdf) on climate change.

The summary report is a 21 page document summarising a four volume report yet to be released. It is the work of over 1200 scientific authors and over 2500 scientific reviewers from over 130 countries.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988 to

assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC does not carry out research nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters. It bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature.

The numbers and data in the report are horrifying.

Eleven of the last twelve years (1995 -2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature

Observations since 1961 show that the average temperature of the global ocean has increased to depths of at least 3000 m and that the ocean has been absorbing more than 80% of the heat added to the climate system. Such warming causes seawater to expand, contributing to sea level rise

Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 [1.3 to 2.3] mm per year over 1961 to 2003. The rate was faster over 1993 to 2003, about 3.1 [2.4 to 3.8] mm per year.

For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected.

Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century.

Some of the graphs say it all:
Greenhouse gases


Temp, sea level and snow cover changes

What scared me even more was hearing one of the report’s lead authors, Dr Andrew Weaver on NewsTalk 106 on Friday afternoon and he said that the report was conservative in many of its estimates and findings. Not good.

UPDATE: – Expect to see more stories like the floodings in Jakarta as the effects of climate change become more and more pronounced.

Is clean, cheap energy in the pipeline?

A report in Friday’s Guardian tells of a new form of clean, cheap energy production – which has academics fighting over quantum theory!

Basically, the new form of energy production, called hydrino energy, breaks the rules of long accepted quantum theory and so while it might work in practice, it doesn’t appear to work in theory! Hydrino energy was invented by Dr. Randell Mills, who claims to have built a prototype power source that generates up to 1,000 times more heat than conventional fuel and Dr Mills says that his company, Blacklight Power, has tens of millions of dollars in investment lined up to bring the idea to market.

Andreas Rathke of the European Space Agency has been one of the most vocal critics of the idea behind hydrino energy:

In a damning critique published recently in the New Journal of Physics, he argued that Dr Mills’s theory was the result of mathematical mistakes.

Now another theorist has joined the debate: Jan Naudts of the University of Antwerp in Belgium argues that the Klein-Gordon equation of relativistic quantum mechanics does indeed permit the existence of a low-energy hydrino state! Via.

If the academics can put their arguments aside and allow this new energy source to be developed, hydrino energy has the potential to yield enormous benefits globally. In the first place, it doesn’t produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, so it would benefit the environment and secondly, it has been calculated that hydrino energy would cost around 1.2 cents (0.7p) per kilowatt hour. This compares to an average of 5 cents per kWh for coal and 6 cents for the next cheapest large scale energy source – nuclear energy.

There are still many unanswered questions with respect to hydrino energy – can it be scaled up? Is it viable? and not least of which is how does it work?

Oil companies stand to lose big time if these questions can be answered positively. With oil reserves dwindling, and their reputations lower than ever, perhaps the oil companies would do well to invest heavily in this technology!