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Carbon Mining 
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Post Re: Carbon Mining
DWill wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Trump and Tillerson offer far better prospects of delivering climate results, paradoxically despite their withering scepticism about climate science.
This is your own escape from logic, one that you'd be better off admitting to.
I appreciate why you and the entire climate lobby consider my view to be wrong, but in agreeing with the climate pariah Lomborg on his proposed paradigm shift in climate science, I can only fall back on Einstein’s comment in defence of relativity against the hundred scientists, which is to study the numbers. When a paradigm shifts, the emotional commitment to the old way of thinking prevents adherents from studying the numbers and the theory of change. The scientific paradigm shift in climate science from emission reduction to carbon mining is based on the premise that if we mine twice as much carbon as we emit then we can save the fossil fuel industry. That is something that should be very attractive to the Trump administration. But people have not even studied or discussed it as a real prospect, precisely because it destroys the emission reduction paradigm beloved by the climate lobby.
DWill wrote:
What you've said is equivalent to choosing the politicians who want to build more nuclear weapons as the best path to disarmament.
No, the equivalence is to Trump seeing nuclear weapons as the basis of peace and stability and security through strength. Disarmament is not an end in itself, whereas peace and stability and security are ends. And disarmament is not a means to the end of peace, despite the communist advocacy of that piece of illogic. Weakness leads to war. The good comparison here is how liberal politics confuses emission reduction and climate stability, very similar to how they also confuse nuclear disarmament and world peace. Liberals have convinced themselves of their own delusional moral propaganda and become incapable of discussing facts.
DWill wrote:
If Trump and Tillerson think climate change is bunk, they're not going move toward any means of addressing warming. Why would they?
They don’t have to. It is not up to governments. What is needed is private investment in research and development. Governments should steer not row, so should set a technology-neutral regulatory framework for business investment. My view is that recycling carbon emissions from coal powered energy using ocean based algae factories is going to be the only economic thing that will save the coal industry.
DWill wrote:
Quote:
Solar and wind technology is useless at the only thing needed for climate repair, namely removing carbon from the air. Solar and wind crowd out R&D by soaking up hundreds of billions in annual subsidies.

No one ever said that solar and wind need be seen as "the only thing needed for climate repair."
You have misread my statement. I said “at” not “as”. My point was that solar and wind do nothing to repair the climate. So they could hardly be the only things working to repair the climate. To do that we need carbon mining.
DWill wrote:
Both technologies happen to be means that are currently practical and rapidly expanding. In some areas and countries, they are making a huge difference.
And that is a great thing, a source of clean innovative energy, as long as it does not get politicised through subsidy. I understand that solar has reached the takeoff point where it is economic without subsidy. That Moore’s Law result is a superb thing, but we should not pretend that solar or wind have any prospect of helping stop climate change, given the numbers I have quoted from Lomborg. You may not be familiar with the fiasco in the state of South Australia, where wind subsidies have destroyed energy security and are driving investment away. It is disgusting.
DWill wrote:
To move toward carbon neutrality will take several different technologies. You appear to offer a carbon-mining panacea.
As I said, investment and regulation should proceed on a level playing field. I am an advocate for my own inventions, which is perfectly fair enough. I only criticise other technologies when they make false claims, such as the false idea that a shift to solar and wind power can help with climate stability this century. Over the longer term they are essential, but we have things butt-about, pushing on a string by pretending wind and solar are the main game to address warming. They are not, as the numbers from Lomborg prove.
DWill wrote:
While the technology, unproven though it is, should be pursued, to screen out all other technologies suggests an agenda of a different sort.
I am very glad and appreciative DWill that you say algae technology should be pursued, since (to only mildly exaggerate) that is the opposite of the mad fatwa issued by the United Nations, who seem to class all “marine geoengineering” as a devilish denialist plot, and are actively dissuading investment through their corrupt focus on wind and solar alone. I am looking forward to Ambassador Haley draining that swamp.
DWill wrote:
There is simply no reason to not embrace solar/wind.
”Embrace” is such a romantic word. The only reason that our embrace should be less intense is that there are things we want to do (eg stop global warming) which other commercial technologies may be able to do better than solar and wind.
DWill wrote:
Yes, both have drawbacks, even environmentally, but a totally benign, cost-free source of energy is nowhere in sight. Advocates might claim carbon-mining will provide such a source, but with the technology at such an early stage, that is just a guess.
Sure, it is just a guess. Guesses can be tested. That is all I am suggesting. Industrial algae production is the best way to save biodiversity, and also save the coal industry.
DWill wrote:
Quote:
Instead, climate policy should focus on energy research and development. It is unfortunate that the liberal left claims ownership of climate policy, since the stupidity of the left polarises the debate and makes it harder for carbon mining to be a keystone for Trump’s turn to infrastructure as a growth strategy.

I would think that R & D should heavily invest in nuclear fusion as well. This is a goal Trump could embrace, but he hasn't had the incentive. Where he'd find incentive to do what you want him to is extremely unclear.
The incentive for President Trump to support carbon mining is in its capacity to save the coal industry. Building infrastructure from plastic made from recycled carbon emissions will help to make America great again.


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Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:25 pm
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Post Re: Carbon Mining
DWill wrote:
If Trump and Tillerson think climate change is bunk, they're not going move toward any means of addressing warming. Why would they?

Tillerson quite clearly thinks climate change is man-made. The apparent concession by Pruitt that the finding of harm would win in court if he challenged it means that climate change now has U.S. government acceptance (applying the term "think" to Trump is an exercise in futility). The real question becomes how involved the government will be in keeping the U.S. competitive at clean energy technology.
DWill wrote:
Quote:
Solar and wind technology is useless at the only thing needed for climate repair, namely removing carbon from the air. Solar and wind crowd out R&D by soaking up hundreds of billions in annual subsidies.

To move toward carbon neutrality will take several different technologies.

Robert is technically correct that sequestration or carbon mining will be needed to roll back the unsafe levels of carbon already present. A proper incentive based on externalities would, of course, make it much more likely that such a process would be economical. Since such incentives are easily foreseeable, we will not be held back by the reluctance of free-market extremists like Robert to include them in the calculations.

DWill wrote:
I would think that R & D should heavily invest in nuclear fusion as well. This is a goal Trump could embrace, but he hasn't had the incentive.
It appears the French are the only ones with sufficient trust in big, top-down governmental solutions to pursue fusion. So far their trust in fission has been amply rewarded. Maybe they will score big again.



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Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:50 pm
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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Robert Tulip wrote:
You may not be familiar with the fiasco in the state of South Australia, where wind subsidies have destroyed energy security and are driving investment away. It is disgusting.
My curiousity is piqued. If only because this does not sound plausible. More wind power seems unlikely to destroy energy security, and the investment it might drive away seems likely to be competing sources of energy, which is more or less the point.
Robert Tulip wrote:
As I said, investment and regulation should proceed on a level playing field.
Well, no, actually. Investment with a large uncompensated benefit, or with a large unbilled cost, should have the playing field tilted to make up for these.
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
While the technology, unproven though it is, should be pursued, to screen out all other technologies suggests an agenda of a different sort.
I only criticise other technologies when they make false claims, such as the false idea that a shift to solar and wind power can help with climate stability this century. Over the longer term they are essential,
I have to say it looks like DWill made the more telling point here. You set up some kind of straw man about the need to reduce CO2, which is fair enough on its own, to then argue that renewables are making false claims.

An unnecessarily conflictual approach, whether by environmental alarmists or by advocates of a CO2 reduction approach, will always undermine credibility. Given your position attempting to persuade major power brokers to spend billions and to steer trillions, I would think you would be very sensitive to the need for that credibility. The fact that you are not suggests to me that the ones you see yourself persuading are the free-market extremists, like the Koch brothers, who are not trusted, for good reason, by the rest of us.
Robert Tulip wrote:
I am very glad and appreciative DWill that you say algae technology should be pursued, since (to only mildly exaggerate) that is the opposite of the mad fatwa issued by the United Nations, who seem to class all “marine geoengineering” as a devilish denialist plot, and are actively dissuading investment through their corrupt focus on wind and solar alone.

That's an interesting story, but difficult for us outsiders to assess. In my experience the "environmental lobby" is a little paranoid about any new technology and any acceptance of large-scale, high-affluence solutions. They seem convinced that we should all live like the people of the Victorian age.

On the other hand, their warnings have proved prescient often enough that I have begun to assume that all large-scale, high-affluence solutions will impose major environmental costs, and it is important to anticipate these if we are going to live sustainably affluent lives. So, until I know the nature of the environmental downsides of carbon-mining, and what kinds of regulations and modifications are needed to manage these, it is pretty difficult for me to assess the "fatwa".



Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:56 am
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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Harry Marks wrote:
Tillerson quite clearly thinks climate change is man-made.
Tillerson’s former role as ExxonMobil CEO meant he had to have a practical approach to real problems. While EM is notorious for its funding of denialists, I expect their thinking is driven by the need not to follow Kodak into oblivion. Enduring value means working with new technology instead of against it.

Finding ways that fossil fuels can be compatible with CO2 removal is the only thing that will protect shareholder value and profit for oil, coal and gas.

We should think of denialism as a placeholder ideology, an attitude that just rejects the renewable attack on the old economy, not based on facts but based on vested motives. Denialists clutch at the simplest popular traction to protect their investment value, and that political traction has come from denial of reality and distrust of the policy prescriptions of liberals. But such denial is not sustainable, as Tillerson’s evolving views reflect.
Harry Marks wrote:
(applying the term "think" to Trump is an exercise in futility).
Trump operates at a mythic level, engaging with language that delivers base political support. So his concept of cause and effect operates within a political rather than a scientific framework. That is still thinking, even if its consequences are dangerous.
Harry Marks wrote:
The real question becomes how involved the government will be in keeping the U.S. competitive at clean energy technology.
Whilever clean energy uses the language of decarbonisation and emission reduction, it remains on a collision path with the fossil industry. My suggestion is to sidestep that debate by focus on how fossil fuels can become sustainable by using their carbon pollution as a major infrastructure and energy resource, by treating the oceans as the new frontier for pioneers and inventors through industrial algae mining.

Once Moore’s Law kicks in to make carbon mining profitable, coal will be back in a big way.

The involvement of government should not be to subsidise operations but to subsidise research and development. Subsidising the operation of private companies is socialism, and is a path to stagnation, tyranny and corruption.

It is very wrong to consider the whole of neoliberal capitalist economics to be extreme, from Smith, Friedmann and Hayek. Their ideas provide the market dynamism that has built modern wealth and prosperity and innovation.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert is technically correct that sequestration or carbon mining will be needed to roll back the unsafe levels of carbon already present.
”Technically correct” is one of those faint praise weasel compliments, delivered grudgingly from the attitude of the corrupt UN which sees emission reduction as the holy grail. ‘Technically correct’ means ‘actually correct’ since emission reduction can’t work to deliver climate stability.

The last time we had 400 ppm CO2 was in the Pliocene three million years ago when the sea level was thirty feet higher. It is a simple obvious matter of numbers that we have created the driver to lift sea level by thirty feet, and we have to remove that physical forcing or the world will flood, possibly in a few centuries, possibly tomorrow with a dramatic ice sheet collapse.

Reducing emissions does not remove the driver of climate change but only slows the pace at which it worsens.
Harry Marks wrote:
A proper incentive based on externalities would, of course, make it much more likely that such a process would be economical. Since such incentives are easily foreseeable, we will not be held back by the reluctance of free-market extremists like Robert to include them in the calculations.
Very funny Harry, I am not an extremist. The real extremists in this space are the Canute Chavistoids of the misnamed UN Convention on Biological Diversity who think ideology can defeat markets.

Your phrase “incentive based on externalities” looks like economese for sustainable profit. Incentives are not “based on” externalities but should be regulated by government to take all externalities into account, which are two different things.

The proper role of government is to steer not row, to set regulatory policy with a level playing field without technological bias, and to invest in de-risking innovation within a strategic policy framework focussed on security and stability and prosperity. (I will come back to your latest comment about the meaning of level playing field, which has to be set according to rules of the game).

Only socialists think it is extreme to oppose the model of state owned enterprises, even though SOEs are a recipe for corruption and poverty. That socialist policy is the inevitable path of subsidising unprofitable technology.

At the moment, the externalities of fossil industry are socialised by treating the air as an open sewer. That externality can be removed by carbon mining.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:32 pm
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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
Tillerson quite clearly thinks climate change is man-made.
Tillerson’s former role as ExxonMobil CEO meant he had to have a practical approach to real problems.... Enduring value means working with new technology instead of against it....Finding ways that fossil fuels can be compatible with CO2 removal is the only thing that will protect shareholder value and profit for oil, coal and gas.
There is no reason the debate needs to happen at a level of "this technology" vs. "that technology." Markets are "technology neutral" and just want to deliver value so as to get paid for it.

I was not contradicting the evidence about E-M funding denialism, but rather observing that at the level of thinking, Tillerson understands reality.

Robert Tulip wrote:
We should think of denialism as a placeholder ideology, an attitude that just rejects the renewable attack on the old economy, not based on facts but based on vested motives. Denialists clutch at the simplest popular traction to protect their investment value, and that political traction has come from denial of reality and distrust of the policy prescriptions of liberals. But such denial is not sustainable, as Tillerson’s evolving views reflect.

Denial is not just unsustainable, it is toxic. It attacks the nervous system of society, degrading the ability to gather information and respond appropriately to it. The best thing to be said for denial is that it sometimes protects against total shutdown, but that only applies when the nervous system is already overwhelmed.
Robert Tulip wrote:
My suggestion is to sidestep that debate by focus on how fossil fuels can become sustainable by using their carbon pollution as a major infrastructure and energy resource, by treating the oceans as the new frontier for pioneers and inventors through industrial algae mining.
Sounds fine, but anyone using garbage as a resource, like recyclers, will be more likely to prosper if the cost savings from not having to haul the garbage to a landfill becomes a financial input to their recycling process. This is the implication of a Pigovian response to externalities.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Once Moore’s Law kicks in to make carbon mining profitable, coal will be back in a big way.

A sort of generalized Moore's Law (the original was about density of switches doubling) would suggest that learning curves in big new technologies are steep for a long time. I think it is fairly likely that this is true for oceanic "farming" of all types, where we do not have the millennia of experience that land-based farming has, and one learning contributes to finding more technical fixes. I frankly do not care one way or another about whether coal comes back, and I find it curious that you do.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The involvement of government should not be to subsidise operations but to subsidise research and development.
There is a strong public goods problem with R&D, leading to market failure. Government has a role to play. That does not negate the role government has to play in addressing externalities.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Subsidising the operation of private companies is socialism, and is a path to stagnation, tyranny and corruption.
It doesn't matter what label you put on it or what path you discern. Public education was a really good idea, and clearly the foundation of modern society and the essential infrastructure of market performance. Whether it was also socialism is quite irrelevant to its rationale and its performance.

Robert Tulip wrote:
It is very wrong to consider the whole of neoliberal capitalist economics to be extreme, from Smith, Friedmann and Hayek.
Milton Friedman was a strong advocate of addressing externalities with incentives. While he also recognized the dangers of government involvement, he could see when those were secondary issues. Adam Smith's insights came before the recognition of externalities (though I am told he has some discussion that essentially responds to the issue). Alfred Marshall, who created the Supply and Demand analysis on which modern economics is based, pointed out the problem of externalities, and his student, Arthur Pigou, recognized that a tax or subsidy could internalize the externality and lead to appropriate behavior by private producers and consumers. Hayek was an extremist, and belongs in the category of political economists, analyzing political processes rather than economic processes.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Their ideas provide the market dynamism that has built modern wealth and prosperity and innovation.
In my view none of Hayek's ideas has proved to be accurate or insightful. In particular, every major intervention by liberal democratic governments has provided for improvement in the economy, even when major mistakes were involved (such as with nationalization of heavy industries). Much more helpful insights have come from analysis of government failure by James Buchanan and company, and of the anti-competitive effects of government interventions by Friedman.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert is technically correct that sequestration or carbon mining will be needed to roll back the unsafe levels of carbon already present.
”Technically correct” is one of those faint praise weasel compliments, delivered grudgingly from the attitude of the corrupt UN which sees emission reduction as the holy grail. ‘Technically correct’ means ‘actually correct’ since emission reduction can’t work to deliver climate stability.
The backhanded use of "technically correct" was a response to your rhetoric around this point, which mistakenly concludes that an approach which cannot solve the problem is not to be promoted even though it obviously can help a ton to keep the problem from getting even worse.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Reducing emissions does not remove the driver of climate change but only slows the pace at which it worsens.
Well, I expect Rex Tillerson is also very clear that slowing the slide is of value. Reversing it is even better, but reversing it takes time, and we don't have a lot.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
A proper incentive based on externalities would, of course, make it much more likely that such a process would be economical. Since such incentives are easily foreseeable, we will not be held back by the reluctance of free-market extremists like Robert to include them in the calculations.
Very funny Harry, I am not an extremist. The real extremists in this space are the Canute Chavistoids of the misnamed UN Convention on Biological Diversity who think ideology can defeat markets.
In my view you are an extremist. Externalities are a market failure, demonstrably, and when government addresses them (as for example with the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act in the U.S.) it creates value. Insisting that government cannot improve the situation because gummint is a nefarious force is free market extremism.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Your phrase “incentive based on externalities” looks like economese for sustainable profit. Incentives are not “based on” externalities but should be regulated by government to take all externalities into account, which are two different things.
I don't see the difference. "Regulated by government to take all externalities into account" looks to me like being more detailed and complete about "incentive based on externalities."

Robert Tulip wrote:
That socialist policy {SOEs} is the inevitable path of subsidising unprofitable technology.
Not really. Agriculture is subsidized in nearly every industrialized country. It's basis in the private sector is still very secure. Education is a state-owned enterprise, and competes effectively with private education in places where they co-exist. The Interstate Highway system was governmental, and it sustains an industry with a strong private basis.



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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Is it even conceivable that carbon mining could be employed to remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to to lower the ppm of carbon? I'm just asking. I can see how carbon mining could provide a resource... but a remedy?



Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:26 am
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Post Re: Carbon Mining
DWill wrote:
Is it even conceivable that carbon mining could be employed to remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to to lower the ppm of carbon? I'm just asking. I can see how carbon mining could provide a resource... but a remedy?

I will defer to Robert's expertise, but it is certainly conceivable to me. Tat Tvam Asi (sp?) has some numbers on his Global Greening thread indicating that the increase in land-based plant growth has made a material difference to the accumulation of CO2, so I see no reason why more intensive sea-based cultivation could not also remove substantial amounts of carbon.

The work done on enriching plankton growth with mineral filings has also found reasons for optimism.



Sat Apr 15, 2017 11:03 am
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Post Re: Carbon Mining
DWill wrote:
Is it even conceivable that carbon mining could be employed to remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to to lower the ppm of carbon? I'm just asking. I can see how carbon mining could provide a resource... but a remedy?


Here is a comment I just posted at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/geoengineering

Quantification of the world carbon storage need at 800 gigatonnes of carbon has to be annualised to produce a realistic path and to address the problem of the absence of viable technologies for climate stabilisation.

Humans add about ten gigatonnes of carbon to the air every year, in the form of 40 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent. A gigatonne of water is a cubic kilometre. The order of magnitude for a path to climate stability is therefore roughly equivalent to storing about twenty cubic km of algae in geotextile bags at the bottom of the ocean every year.

Such a scale of storage would enable fossil fuel emissions to continue, obviating the need for decarbonisation, while also reducing the amount of carbon in the air. Is such a proposal technically feasible? If carbon in the form of algae (mainly hydrocarbon) could be marketed as a valuable commodity, such a method could pay for itself. My estimate is that the implication of these numbers is that industrial microalgae production on one percent of the world ocean would solve global warming.

Ocean Foresters propose a less intensive strategy, using nine percent of the world ocean for macroalgae, in their article Negative Carbon via Ocean Afforestation published in 2012 in the Process Safety and Environmental Protection journal of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering. Tim Flannery cited this paper in his popular book Atmosphere of Hope as a key climate solution, but Ocean Foresters have not found much traction for research. It looks like the politics of negative emission technology is too difficult for the climate movement to engage on it.


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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Harry Marks wrote:
There is no reason the debate needs to happen at a level of "this technology" vs. "that technology." Markets are "technology neutral" and just want to deliver value so as to get paid for it.
Hi Harry, may I again say how much I appreciate your responses on these issues. You raise some good points on topics where I contest popular assumptions.

On this point about market technology neutrality, the problem is that governments are not technology neutral. When governments provide subsidies and permits, the decision process only involves market forces as a part of an overall ideological and political process. Attitudes about fossil fuels versus renewables are especially ideological. The left is hostile to fossil energy while the right leads the cheers, and vice versa for renewables. In an ideal world governments would regulate to properly cost all externalities, but the reality of political lobbying, lack of data and partisan polarity means we are far from an ideal world.
Harry Marks wrote:
Denial is not just unsustainable, it is toxic. It attacks the nervous system of society, degrading the ability to gather information and respond appropriately to it. The best thing to be said for denial is that it sometimes protects against total shutdown, but that only applies when the nervous system is already overwhelmed.
I agree. Denial of climate change is on an epistemic par with young earth creationism, and perhaps even with belief in genocide, given that climate denial is ecocidal. But the alienation from reality among denialists does not imply - as the climate lobby infers - that climate scientists know how to reverse climate change. They don’t. The fact that climate science is settled does not mean climate policy is settled. That gap between observation and response is where the weed of denial has found its niche to flourish.

I call denial a placeholder ideology because it is an incoherent attitude which serves the temporary social purpose of defending the fossil fuel industry against rationalist attack. Denialists know they like their cars and their coal, and the easiest way to get the greenies off their backs, at least temporarily, is to assert that the greenies are mad because world science is a conspiracy. But your nervous system analogy is very apt here, with denial a form of mass psychosis. The social danger of this rise of fantasy is seen in how media publish denial commentary in ways they would not publish overt racist and sexist comments. The moral turpitude of climate denial is even worse than most social vilification, since climate denial is enabling the planet’s sixth extinction, with potential to take us down too.

What I am trying to do is help the denialists shift from their crazy claim that climate change is not caused by man to a view that by mining carbon we can establish a new profitable industry that allows gas and power guzzling to continue. Trump should love carbon mining.
Harry Marks wrote:
anyone using garbage as a resource, like recyclers, will be more likely to prosper if the cost savings from not having to haul the garbage to a landfill becomes a financial input to their recycling process.
The relevance to carbon mining of your comment about garbage is that CO2 is diffuse, hard to collect at scale, and of negative worth until it is transformed into something else. Finding ways to mine carbon from the air and turn a dime on it is hard. That is why I suggest an evolutionary adaptive path.

The analogy I like is with whales. Ancient hippos living in rivers found that by swimming out further to sea they could prosper. I suggest we start carbon mining with plastic run-of-river 'hippo' bags to produce controlled algae blooms on reaches of polluted rivers like the Mississippi, to convert the nutrient back into fertilizer and stock feed, with the co-benefit of fixing the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere by removing the runoff phosphates and nitrates that are the cause. That would enable materials and design issues to be sorted for industrial algae production as a basis to replicate in coastal waters, where nutrient level is less but tide and wave power can enable pumping, algae species suitable to high CO2 environments can be bred, and CO2 can be piped from coastal power stations.

Coastal operations would then provide the basis for incremental expansion to the deep blue sea, much as hippos gradually lost their feet and grew flukes and baleen to become the whales that dominated the oceans for fifty million years until yesterday, but algae whales would need to apply technological ingenuity to evolve much faster, in years not decades or centuries.
Harry Marks wrote:
This is the implication of a Pigovian response to externalities.
I sadly confess I have not recently heard mention of the good economist Arthur Pigou or his fair land of Pigovia, where I hope that four legs are always good. A Pigovian tax is set equal to the social cost of negative externalities. I really wonder how social cost is calculated, given it is such a political quantum, subject to ideological distortion.

Such discussion reminds me of the questions posed by the walrus to the carpenter, of why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.

Could you expand on why garbage recycling is Pigovian? Is it just that converting waste into resource unlocks value which requires initial public subsidy to overcome barriers to entry?
Harry Marks wrote:
A sort of generalized Moore's Law (the original was about density of switches doubling) would suggest that learning curves in big new technologies are steep for a long time. I think it is fairly likely that this is true for oceanic "farming" of all types, where we do not have the millennia of experience that land-based farming has, and one learning contributes to finding more technical fixes. I frankly do not care one way or another about whether coal comes back, and I find it curious that you do.
I like to model the expected path for research and development of algae factories for carbon mining on the history of the aviation industry. Flying was an industry that was at takeoff point a century ago, and which has since grown to a scale completely unimaginable from Kitty Hawk.

There are several reasons why carbon mining can fly even faster than planes, so to speak. Firstly, the fossil fuel industries need ways to sustain their competitiveness against renewables. This is a public good at a time when solar prices are being quoted at three cents a kilowatt hour, but in ways that undermine grid stability.

Until the externalities of climate destruction can be addressed, fossil fuels have a foul odour, but if they can reuse the carbon they emit, then world energy use can rise to a whole new paradigm, with power essentially becoming free. Shifting carbon from the crust to the atmosphere can only work if it ends up in stable form, such as graphite skyscrapers. The reason I like coal is that it is the best potential ally for industrial algae. Coal is a massive industry that needs to shift its paradigm to have a future. The fossil energy industry has the expertise and contacts and need to back carbon mining using industrial algae production.
Harry Marks wrote:
There is a strong public goods problem with R&D, leading to market failure. Government has a role to play. That does not negate the role government has to play in addressing externalities.
I don’t see where I have suggested that negation. Government should regulate the energy industry to achieve public goods, based on sound analysis of externalities in a polluter pays model. That also means co-funding research with the private sector, not providing subsidies to wind farms that are a complete dud as far as fixing the climate goes.
Harry Marks wrote:
Milton Friedman was a strong advocate of addressing externalities with incentives. While he also recognized the dangers of government involvement, he could see when those were secondary issues. Adam Smith's insights came before the recognition of externalities (though I am told he has some discussion that essentially responds to the issue). Alfred Marshall, who created the Supply and Demand analysis on which modern economics is based, pointed out the problem of externalities, and his student, Arthur Pigou, recognized that a tax or subsidy could internalize the externality and lead to appropriate behavior by private producers and consumers. Hayek was an extremist, and belongs in the category of political economists, analyzing political processes rather than economic processes.
Thanks for that summary. I disagree with you on Hayek, based on my reading of The Constitution of Liberty. His Nobel Prize was for “Research on the interrelations between economic, social and political processes.” I admire Margaret Thatcher, possibly Hayek’s best known acolyte for her table thumping remark, but it is worth noting his views on society were not the same as those of the Iron Lady.

Yes, Hayek supported the Austrian School view that small effective government with a focus on policy and security creates growth and builds moral virtue, but he did not accept the idea that regulation is intrinsically wrong, rather seeing providing rule of law as the central function of state to include market regulation to deliver public goods.

Hayek's Nobel citation mentions that he highlighted the problems of central economic planning. His conclusion was that knowledge and information held by various actors can only be utilized fully in a decentralized market system with free competition and pricing. To my view, this insight from Hayek reflects adaptive complexity to provide a decisive evolutionary demolition of the idea that carbon taxation should be central to climate response. The climate model that focusses on reducing emissions alone is a recrudescence of central planning, suffering from ills that Hayek identified so perspicaciously in The Road to Serfdom.

Taxing carbon makes energy more expensive, private industry more difficult, big government more intrusive and powerful, the world hotter, the oceans more acidic, and society more conflictive and poor. I prefer the view that instead of the emission reduction dystopia we should harness the profit motive to remove more carbon from the air than we add, creating a world where high energy use and high biodiversity become synergistic, where increased prosperity enables the state to wither away.
Harry Marks wrote:
your rhetoric mistakenly concludes that an approach which cannot solve the problem is not to be promoted even though it obviously can help a ton to keep the problem from getting even worse.
When helping a ton costs a lot and won’t deliver its stated goals, and also comes at the expense of methods that could help a teraton, we have a clear example of the well known economic problem of crowding out, in this case like a minnow locking the gate to a whale.

Solar and wind cannot solve the problem of having too much carbon in the air, and they do in fact actively displace negative emission technology, which is the only method able to deliver climate stability. This ‘help a ton, ignore a gigaton’ mentality is very bad and dangerous, sending our planet hurtling towards what Marvin called an earth-shattering kaboom. The dominance of emission reduction in the climate debate is evidence of mass stupidity, worthy of those who would remove a mote from their neighbour’s eye while ignoring the log in their own eye.
Harry Marks wrote:
slowing the slide is of value. Reversing it is even better, but reversing it takes time, and we don't have a lot.
Image There are times when slowing the slide is ineffective.
Harry Marks wrote:
Insisting that government cannot improve the situation because gummint is a nefarious force.
With climate policy, your caricature that “gummint is a nefarious force illustrates how the IPCC in its collective multi state foolishness has proposed methods to address the world’s biggest security risk, climate change, but these methods are demonstrably stupid.

The emission reduction theory illustrates the maxim that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, just as the Paris Agreement for ‘reductions in our time’ is a climate strategy designed by governments.

There are subconscious motivations and assumptions at work here, especially the Marxist class idea that only the state can support public goods while capitalism is intrinsically evil. I find that false assumption about state virtue and private vice to be pervasive in the climate lobby. Unfortunately it creates a policy framework that is unworkable, completely failing to respect the lessons of why socialism has always failed to deal with incentives. Sustainability at scale requires the leadership of free enterprise.


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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Robert Tulip wrote:
Attitudes about fossil fuels versus renewables are especially ideological. The left is hostile to fossil energy while the right leads the cheers, and vice versa for renewables. In an ideal world governments would regulate to properly cost all externalities, but the reality of political lobbying, lack of data and partisan polarity means we are far from an ideal world.

Getting within striking distance of ideal pricing is a neutral goal. Conservatives and liberals used to agree on it, but then the conservative party sold out to special interests. Attributing neutral goals to whatever ideology there may be on the other side is a diversionary tactic, worthy of the Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

It is possible to support ideologically neutral rules (such as "facts must be recognized, not denied") without taking sides. I knew an economist who saved American consumers billions by scrubbing the facts in trade cases, not because she was a conservative (she was) but because she understood the influence of the special interest effect on trade policy processes. When either side deliberately chooses to obfuscate facts for the sake of their special interests, they forfeit the right to sit at the table where policy is made by the adults.

The adults, including James Baker, George Schultz, Rex Tillerson and Henry Paulson, recognize that pricing needs to be adjusted by government policy to have any chance of coming close to efficient balancing of costs against benefits. Without it, resources are consistently squandered.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The fact that climate science is settled does not mean climate policy is settled. That gap between observation and response is where the weed of denial has found its niche to flourish.
The truth is that the sellout party has not engaged in honest debate about policy in 15 years. I agree that policy is not settled. It may actually be cheaper to move the hundreds of millions from coastal zones to higher ground than to shift production and consumption in a way that limits or reverses carbon buildup. But with the political process strangled by special interests and their denial approach, that assessment won't be made on anything like an honest basis.

Robert Tulip wrote:
I call denial a placeholder ideology because it is an incoherent attitude which serves the temporary social purpose of defending the fossil fuel industry against rationalist attack.

If a group in society was "serving the temporary social purpose" of enabling a country's enemies to steal its income, they would rightly be called traitors. The fossil fuel industry in its role as special interest group holding society hostage has no claim on "social purpose" rhetoric.
Robert Tulip wrote:
But your nervous system analogy is very apt here, with denial a form of mass psychosis. The social danger of this rise of fantasy is seen in how media publish denial commentary in ways they would not publish overt racist and sexist comments.

An interesting comparison. I have noticed before that the press/media are much better at reporting on conflict, where they can report about who is winning, than at reporting on complex issues. Obviously this is more about readers than about reporters, but the reporters bear some blame also.

Robert Tulip wrote:
What I am trying to do is help the denialists shift from their crazy claim that climate change is not caused by man to a view that by mining carbon we can establish a new profitable industry that allows gas and power guzzling to continue. Trump should love carbon mining.

Do we have reason to believe that carbon mining is a more cost effective approach than, say, improved insulation?
Robert Tulip wrote:
I suggest an evolutionary adaptive path.
I suggest we start carbon mining with plastic run-of-river 'hippo' bags to produce controlled algae blooms on reaches of polluted rivers like the Mississippi, to convert the nutrient back into fertilizer and stock feed, with the co-benefit of fixing the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere by removing the runoff phosphates and nitrates that are the cause.

That sounds like an eminently practical approach, using runoff nutrients as a source of income rather than just a threat to ecology. I hope the proof of concept works out well. But in any policy design process, I would still argue for rewarding the program in part for its reduction of carbon.
Robert Tulip wrote:
That would enable materials and design issues to be sorted for industrial algae production as a basis to replicate in coastal waters, where nutrient level is less but tide and wave power can enable pumping, algae species suitable to high CO2 environments can be bred, and CO2 can be piped from coastal power stations.
As well as assessing the impact on marine ecology and whether further adjustments are needed to avoid unnecessary collateral damage.
Robert Tulip wrote:
but algae whales would need to apply technological ingenuity to evolve much faster
Fortunately human ingenuity can respond much faster than biological adaptation.
Robert Tulip wrote:
A Pigovian tax is set equal to the social cost of negative externalities. I really wonder how social cost is calculated, given it is such a political quantum, subject to ideological distortion.
Such problems are much more tractable than public perceptions. Facts are put on the table by both sides, on an adversary basis, and a compromise between competing goals is hammered out on the basis of fact and relative benefit, instead of being subjected to distortion and ideological prisms. Many fields of civic responsibility have been managed with essential success on that basis.

Such discussion reminds me of the questions posed by the walrus to the carpenter, of why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Could you expand on why garbage recycling is Pigovian? Is it just that converting waste into resource unlocks value which requires initial public subsidy to overcome barriers to entry?
It sounds like I may have been less than clear. Surely not me! Garbage is a "bad" and if people are allowed to, many will leave it wherever they happen to feel like dropping it, thus imposing costs on others. So we charge them money to remove it and concentrate it in landfills, where people know to avoid them and thus escape the costs. The tax to remove it is itself Pigovian, and the regulation of fining people for inappropriate dumping is also.

Recyclers can get their "raw material" cheaper if there is a garbage tax that is proportional to the waste matter sent to the dump. Individuals sort their garbage so that they do not have to pay to have the recycling material removed. That was the reference I intended to underline, and to compare to a tax on CO2 which would help carbon mining to thrive.



There are several reasons why carbon mining can fly even faster than planes, so to speak.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Firstly, the fossil fuel industries need ways to sustain their competitiveness against renewables. This is a public good at a time when solar prices are being quoted at three cents a kilowatt hour, but in ways that undermine grid stability.
Mechanisms such as requiring the grid to buy renewable energy served their purpose to kickoff the learning curve process in renewables. If it turns out that stable sources such as natural gas are the cheapest way to deal with power fluctuations on the grid, then they should be used, but only if "cheapest" takes into account their carbon externalities.

The electric power industry has a good track record of finding technical fixes for their technical problems, in part because they usually have a monopoly with the right to charge a price that covers unit cost. It is only when fixing a technical problem has no compensation that it remains unaddressed. That is the nub of the externality problem.

Robert Tulip wrote:
I don’t see where I have suggested that negation.
Only by implication, when you reject subsidies to reduce the negative externalities of competing industries. Addressing externalities requires government involvement (yes, steering not rowing, as you put it appropriately) and whenever you imply that any government involvement is inherently going to worsen a situation, you oppose proper pricing.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Government should regulate the energy industry to achieve public goods, based on sound analysis of externalities in a polluter pays model. That also means co-funding research with the private sector, not providing subsidies to wind farms that are a complete dud as far as fixing the climate goes.
See, there you go again. Reducing carbon is the goal, but you disparage reduction of carbon additions based only on the fact that they do not reduce the amounts previously emitted. This is fallacious analysis, and I have a strong suspicion you know it.
Robert Tulip wrote:
I disagree with you on Hayek, based on my reading of The Constitution of Liberty.

Hayek's Nobel citation mentions that he highlighted the problems of central economic planning. His conclusion was that knowledge and information held by various actors can only be utilized fully in a decentralized market system with free competition and pricing. To my view, this insight from Hayek reflects adaptive complexity to provide a decisive evolutionary demolition of the idea that carbon taxation should be central to climate response. The climate model that focusses on reducing emissions alone is a recrudescence of central planning, suffering from ills that Hayek identified so perspicaciously in The Road to Serfdom.

I have only read Road to Serfdom and some smatterings of his work on Central Planning. Yes, I believe he did make some important contributions on the benefits of decentralization through pricing, though I never see any discussion of this among economists which actually cites his work. Anyway, I may have been too dismissive. However, there is at least theory suggesting that the problem of appropriate pricing can be solved in a central planning context. IBM is engaged in a kind of experiment to that effect, using internal pricing of corporate resources.
I have not yet seen, from you or Hayek or anyone else, a reason not to use carbon pricing or a resemblance to central planning in the other pricing programs which have been used to combat externalities. I am frankly baffled at the way you support correcting prices in one sentence and then, a few sentences later dismiss it as leftist governmentalism, apparently because you see it as undermining your own approach (when in fact it would only help your approach as I have pointed out).

Robert Tulip wrote:
Taxing carbon makes energy more expensive, private industry more difficult, big government more intrusive and powerful, the world hotter, the oceans more acidic, and society more conflictive and poor.
This ranges from tendentious to lunatic. Recognizing the full cost of carbon emissions does not make energy more expensive, it merely recognizes the true cost by charging it to the buyers and sellers who are in a position to do something about limiting that cost. Some private industry would find things more difficult, others would find it easier. Government would have a larger role, but in preventing the crime of imposing our garbage on everyone else, government pursues a legitimate and constructive role which adds to society's well-being. And quite obviously, carbon taxes do not make the world hotter or the oceans more acidic. I am afraid you will have trouble convincing me that society is more conflictive just because those able to inflict harm on others are restricted from doing so freely. And poor? No. Better off, unquestionably.
Robert Tulip wrote:
I prefer the view that instead of the emission reduction dystopia we should harness the profit motive to remove more carbon from the air than we add, creating a world where high energy use and high biodiversity become synergistic, where increased prosperity enables the state to wither away.
Except for the clause from Marx, you have described the actual effects of a carbon tax.

Robert Tulip wrote:
There are subconscious motivations and assumptions at work here, especially the Marxist class idea that only the state can support public goods while capitalism is intrinsically evil.
Yes, that Friedman was such a Marxist.



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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
Attitudes about fossil fuels versus renewables are especially ideological. The left is hostile to fossil energy while the right leads the cheers, and vice versa for renewables. In an ideal world governments would regulate to properly cost all externalities, but the reality of political lobbying, lack of data and partisan polarity means we are far from an ideal world.

Getting within striking distance of ideal pricing is a neutral goal. Conservatives and liberals used to agree on it, but then the conservative party sold out to special interests. Attributing neutral goals to whatever ideology there may be on the other side is a diversionary tactic, worthy of the Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.
Hi Harry, sorry for the delay in response. What you say here looks on the surface like a plausible reading of climate politics, characterising the fossil fuel industry as ‘special interests’ who have corruptly prevented rational policy, but other interpretations are possible.

The political consensus up until a decade ago on climate policy was only because the conservative side had not fully thought through the implications of carbon pricing. The whole infrastructure of internal combustion engines and coal fired electricity is under attack from the renewable energy paradigm, and this assault on the old economy is not simply captured by your anodyne phrase about ideal pricing as a neutral goal.

The concept of an ideal carbon price is premised on the assumption that reducing carbon emissions is the core task for climate stability. That can be questioned, as I have argued above in this thread. As well, there is broad suspicion that climate economists and lobbyists are not engaging in objective analysis, but are twisting data to support the goal of shutting down fossil emissions, leaving aside the whole cultural and political debates around climate policy, such as implications for size and role of government.

That suspicion of the climate lobby has meant conservatives have lost trust in the policy suggestions of climate economists, seeing them as politically partisan and too damaging to the existing economy, putting sand in the gears of transport and power. Add in Lomborg’s compelling proof that emission reduction does not in fact help the climate, and the prospect of the logic of carbon pricing gaining broad support for implementation is remote. We will have a carbon price when pigs fly.

That is a highly dangerous situation, because the result is paralysis on climate under Trump, meaning the sixth extinction just continues to roll on with its collapse of planetary biodiversity and threat of collapse of civilization. So my view is that a discussion on other strategies such as carbon mining is needed. I just don’t see it happening at anything like the scale and focus required.
Harry Marks wrote:
I knew an economist who saved American consumers billions by scrubbing the facts in trade cases... When either side deliberately chooses to obfuscate facts for the sake of their special interests, they forfeit the right to sit at the table where policy is made by the adults.
I googled your phrase ‘scrubbing the facts’ and found opposing meanings – scrubbing out and scrubbing up. Not totally sure which you intend here! I have been following the ‘special interest’ debate in regard to sugar, with the food industry corrupting the policy process to prevent public access to health information about their products.

It is clear that the old energy industry has joined the food industry in drawing from the tobacco playbook to play dirty in public debate. However, in climate debates, it is reasonable to ask if renewable advocates are obfuscating facts as well. I think they are. For example, there is the fact that emission reduction by itself can do nothing to reverse climate change. And there is the fact that higher prices for energy have a devastating ripple effect through the whole economy. There are also the problems of intermittency of renewables, reduction of grids to a residual, and scaling to baseload reliability. I just don’t see adequate engagement on these issues, which I think are behind much climate scepticism.
Harry Marks wrote:
The adults, including James Baker, George Schultz, Rex Tillerson and Henry Paulson, recognize that pricing needs to be adjusted by government policy to have any chance of coming close to efficient balancing of costs against benefits. Without it, resources are consistently squandered.
I certainly respect the views of these luminaries, but the point I am making with this thread is that a focus on carbon pricing alone, while not a bad thing in itself, fails to address the security dimension of climate change. You would expect that people like Schultz and Baker would be cautious to a fault. That means they are apt to go with the technical consensus, which unfortunately minimises the significant risk of rapid unexpected tipping points, due to the excess amount of carbon in the air and sea.

As a global security priority, we should be looking at how to remove the dangerous carbon from the air, not pussyfooting about with policy levers that may or may not help to overcome the political barriers by providing economic incentives. The Russians did not stop Hitler by changing their tax code. Climate change is an urgent security problem on a scale comparable to the Second World War.
Harry Marks wrote:
the sellout party has not engaged in honest debate about policy in 15 years.
I appreciate your passion, but underlying your zealous critique of the fossil fuel industry is an assumption that climate policy is a simple matter of angels versus devils, that mobilizing a popular front against the fossil fuel industry will put the planet on a path to salvation.

Would that it were so easy! My sense of this debate is that the fossil energy industry gain political traction from the perception that climate change is deeply embedded in a progressive vision whose features include weak borders, rejection of traditional morality, promotion of social welfare payments, state intrusion on freedom of speech, etc. My view is that climate change needs to be entirely decoupled from progressive politics, so that the necessary leadership of those you unkindly term “the sellout party” can be mobilised, using their funds, skills, contacts, resources, etc.
Harry Marks wrote:
I agree that policy is not settled. It may actually be cheaper to move the hundreds of millions from coastal zones to higher ground than to shift production and consumption in a way that limits or reverses carbon buildup.
Putting the options in such a stark way illustrates that it should be obvious that a shift to climate stability is vastly preferable and more economical than global social upheaval. Dithering will mean the global upheaval and suffering you describe will emerge as the default policy, as a result of failure to agree a constructive policy.

My take on policy settlement is different, that there should be a policy debate, as proposed by Lomborg, on the relation between emission reduction and climate stability. I simply do not see that debate happening, since the advocates of the Paris Agreement never seem to rise above ad hominems (‘sellout’ etc) and similar fallacious nonsense in justifying their views against the critiques.
Harry Marks wrote:
But with the political process strangled by special interests and their denial approach, that assessment won't be made on anything like an honest basis.
Again, the strangulation is the fault of both sides. The left make climate part of a progressive package that raises the hackles of the right, while the right seem incapable of articulating ways to decouple climate solutions from the progressive paradigm.
Harry Marks wrote:

Robert Tulip wrote:
I call denial a placeholder ideology because it is an incoherent attitude which serves the temporary social purpose of defending the fossil fuel industry against rationalist attack.

If a group in society was "serving the temporary social purpose" of enabling a country's enemies to steal its income, they would rightly be called traitors. The fossil fuel industry in its role as special interest group holding society hostage has no claim on "social purpose" rhetoric.
Keeping lights on, houses warm and cars running is a good social purpose served by fossil fuels. We are a long way from renewable energy delivering these mass market public goods at reliable scale.
Harry Marks wrote:
Do we have reason to believe that carbon mining is a more cost effective approach than, say, improved insulation?
Thanks Harry, great question. Let’s say improved insulation could reduce thermal coal use by 20%. That is a straight removal of economic and ecological waste, and an excellent investment for businesses and households, with a quick economic repayment time. By contrast, carbon mining as a proposal using large scale ocean based algae production is an unproven idea, requiring extensive investment in research and development for years before it starts to make profit.

If algae farms could cover one percent of the world ocean, with ability to produce double the amount of carbon we emit, and do so in a commercial way that is funded mainly by reuse of coal based carbon, then the economic benefits of such a transformation of our energy systems are many orders of magnitude (OOM) greater than insulation.

The further point here, illustrating the OOM difference, is that insulation might aim to reduce global emissions by 2%, say from ten gigatons of carbon to 9.8 gigatons per year. That would delay the arrival of dangerous 2° temperature rise by the equal amount, 2%, say from the year 2035 to the year 2036. By contrast, carbon mining aims to provide an economic method to store more carbon than we emit, with a goal of storing 20 gigatons per year in hydrocarbon form in bags at the bottom of the sea, as useful commodities that will keep for ever or until a commercial use is needed for them.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
I suggest an evolutionary adaptive path.
I suggest we start carbon mining with plastic run-of-river 'hippo' bags to produce controlled algae blooms on reaches of polluted rivers like the Mississippi, to convert the nutrient back into fertilizer and stock feed, with the co-benefit of fixing the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere by removing the runoff phosphates and nitrates that are the cause.

That sounds like an eminently practical approach, using runoff nutrients as a source of income rather than just a threat to ecology. I hope the proof of concept works out well. But in any policy design process, I would still argue for rewarding the program in part for its reduction of carbon.
Look, I agree that in practice, government involvement is essential for such activities, more to provide the blessing of the state with its political legitimacy and convening power than for the value of its lucre. Australia has an equivalent program http://www.environment.gov.au/marine/gb ... g-the-reef for the Great Barrier Reef, where coral is imperilled by heat, acid and nutrient. I gave a talk at the University of Queensland Mining Department about these issues, and I put the lack of follow up, despite the efforts of my mining professorial friends, down to my personal lack of charisma and energy and the overall toxic quality of climate politics.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
That would enable materials and design issues to be sorted for industrial algae production as a basis to replicate in coastal waters, where nutrient level is less but tide and wave power can enable pumping, algae species suitable to high CO2 environments can be bred, and CO2 can be piped from coastal power stations.
As well as assessing the impact on marine ecology and whether further adjustments are needed to avoid unnecessary collateral damage.
Ecological protection is a design issue. The protocols in such a broad ranging proposal would require intensive safety assessment, just as new pharmaceuticals need to satisfy safety requirements alongside efficacy trials.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
but algae whales would need to apply technological ingenuity to evolve much faster
Fortunately human ingenuity can respond much faster than biological adaptation.
Yes, the overall thinking I am promoting is about mimicking nature to enable rapid economic development with sustainability at scale. The concept of an ‘algae whale’ is described in my novel The Jug, initially as a storage container in the vast corridor of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, and then also for a range of other uses, such as baleening up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, perne in a gyre, commending all summer long, to paraphrase Sailing to Byzantium.
Harry Marks wrote:
Such discussion reminds me of the questions posed by the walrus to the carpenter, of why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.
Readers may well be intrigued by this cryptic comment. To put their minds at rest, you have accidentally claimed credit for a comment that I made, quoting the master absurdist Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass. His prescient conversation on the boiling of the sea presents a vivid image for climate science. As to the feats of aviporcines, Carroll’s meme about swine on the wing has certainly become a popular archetype for fantasy and deception, for example as a reference to the soon to occur time when emission reduction will reduce air temperature.
Harry Marks wrote:
you disparage reduction of carbon additions based only on the fact that they do not reduce the amounts previously emitted. This is fallacious analysis, and I have a strong suspicion you know it.
With all respect, the fallacy is all yours Harry. The goal is a stable global climate. I have previously used the analogy of a tap dripping into a bath. If we keep the plug in, and turn the tap down to just a drip, we only delay the time when the bath floods the floor. That is the analogy for emission reduction. If we pull the plug, we can stop worrying about whether having the tap on will flood the floor. That is the analogy for carbon mining. The only purpose served by emission reduction is as a means to develop technology for carbon mining. To treat emission reduction as an end in itself is a recipe for climate catastrophe.


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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
Getting within striking distance of ideal pricing is a neutral goal. Conservatives and liberals used to agree on it, but then the conservative party sold out to special interests.
What you say here looks on the surface like a plausible reading of climate politics, characterising the fossil fuel industry as ‘special interests’ who have corruptly prevented rational policy, but other interpretations are possible.
Hello again, Robert. It is obvious to people who take the trouble to inform themselves that the other interpretations are not honest.

A good lawsuit, with discovery process to unearth old emails, would put on display to everyone, as happened with the tobacco industry, the callous greed and fraudulent manipulation which has been the guiding principle of the fossil fuel industry on the climate question. I applaud your determination and creativity in attempting to generate alternative facts. Perhaps when Kellyanne Conway gets tired of her determination and creativity in spinning for Trump, a job will await you.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The political consensus up until a decade ago on climate policy was only because the conservative side had not fully thought through the implications of carbon pricing.
The conservatives of integrity continue to maintain their honest recognition of the problem and their need to address it. What changed was the apparent success of the Koch Brothers and their Tea Party in scaring centrist Republicans using attack ads in the primaries.

That has nothing to do with thinking the matter through, but rather has to do with the legacy of the Nixon/Reagan era efforts by the Republicans to capture the (very substantial) ignorance vote and the subsequent evolution, with Rush Limbaugh leading, of self-confirming paranoid alternative versions of reality. Such as, I am sad to say, your own.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The whole infrastructure of internal combustion engines and coal fired electricity is under attack from the renewable energy paradigm, and this assault on the old economy is not simply captured by your anodyne phrase about ideal pricing as a neutral goal.
This is eyewash. The bricks and mortar retail industry is "under attack" from the e-commerce paradigm, and a neutral stance simply says, "whoever appeals more successfully to consumers wins." Old ways are not entitled to control the market and exclude new ways, just because their employees are afraid.

The same neutrality requires some adjusting when there are massive externalities involved. But it ends up the same: a neutral stance simply says, "pay up for the damage you are causing, and then whoever appeals more successfully to consumers wins."

Robert Tulip wrote:
The concept of an ideal carbon price is premised on the assumption that reducing carbon emissions is the core task for climate stability.

You made that up. It is "premised" on the fact that if we don't do anything about the carbon buildup in the atmosphere the polar icecaps are going to melt, the sea levels are going to rise, and incalculable irreversible damage is going to be done to biodiversity and other aspects of the planet's natural services to us. Carbon reduction and emissions reduction both contribute, and both are favored by a carbon tax.
Robert Tulip wrote:
As well, there is broad suspicion that climate economists and lobbyists are not engaging in objective analysis, but are twisting data to support the goal of shutting down fossil emissions, leaving aside the whole cultural and political debates around climate policy, such as implications for size and role of government.
This "tu quoque" riposte addresses only the moral issue of distortion of the facts, not the practical issue of clarifying the facts and responding appropriately. It doesn't do a good job of handling the morality, either. A broad scientific consensus, defended repeatedly in open debate and challenged without success by fine minds, has established the facts the fossil fuel industry pays people to pretend to respond to. If there were some distortions and alarmism along the way, those were not a significant part of the process and were well balanced by the intentionally conservative estimates used in policy fora.

Robert Tulip wrote:
That suspicion of the climate lobby has meant conservatives have lost trust in the policy suggestions of climate economists, seeing them as politically partisan and too damaging to the existing economy, putting sand in the gears of transport and power.
Honest conservatives no doubt wish they could get a proper discussion going of the appropriate parameters in balancing cost of intervention against benefit. Instead, they have to contend with a huge gap between the denialism paid for by the fossil fuel industry, on one side, and a liberal emphasis on the drastic nature of the costs on the other.
Robert Tulip wrote:
That is a highly dangerous situation, because the result is paralysis on climate under Trump, meaning the sixth extinction just continues to roll on with its collapse of planetary biodiversity and threat of collapse of civilization.
So it is beyond me why you are willing to play the role of apologist for that crowd.
Robert Tulip wrote:
So my view is that a discussion on other strategies such as carbon mining is needed. I just don’t see it happening at anything like the scale and focus required.
If it was in my power to grant your discussion, I would do it in a minute. As I have said, all approaches are needed. But in the end, your rhetorical attempt to hold the climate hostage to get support for your proposal being backed is not only ineffective but cowardly.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
I knew an economist who saved American consumers billions by scrubbing the facts in trade cases...
I googled your phrase ‘scrubbing the facts’ and found opposing meanings – scrubbing out and scrubbing up. Not totally sure which you intend here!
Sorry, the only meaning I am familiar with, in "scrubbing the numbers" is in cleaning them of errors and distortions.

Robert Tulip wrote:
It is clear that the old energy industry has joined the food industry in drawing from the tobacco playbook to play dirty in public debate.
Yes, more evidence that corporations have sociopathic personalities.

Robert Tulip wrote:
However, in climate debates, it is reasonable to ask if renewable advocates are obfuscating facts as well. I think they are. For example, there is the fact that emission reduction by itself can do nothing to reverse climate change.
Your broken record repetitiveness is tiresome. I expect that is your purpose in behaving that way.
Robert Tulip wrote:
And there is the fact that higher prices for energy have a devastating ripple effect through the whole economy.
Intervention to limit climate change has been advocated mainly in a context which takes those costs seriously. A carbon tax would simply make sure that the externalities costs are placed in the balance against the costs to consumers, just as we balance in ordinary resource costs. Nobody cries for economic damage done by exhaustion of low-cost carbon sources, or, in the furniture industry, by increasing scarcity of beautiful hardwoods. Facts are to be recognized - that's all that needs to be said.
Robert Tulip wrote:
There are also the problems of intermittency of renewables, reduction of grids to a residual, and scaling to baseload reliability. I just don’t see adequate engagement on these issues, which I think are behind much climate scepticism.
Nuclear energy addresses reliability directly, and there are plenty of technologies for energy storage, such as pumping water up hill, that can be used to address these issues. Nobody is saying we should ignore them, only that we should include climate damage in the calculation of which solutions are lowest cost.
Robert Tulip wrote:
As a global security priority, we should be looking at how to remove the dangerous carbon from the air, not pussyfooting about with policy levers that may or may not help to overcome the political barriers by providing economic incentives. The Russians did not stop Hitler by changing their tax code. Climate change is an urgent security problem on a scale comparable to the Second World War.
Once again, there is no reason we can't pursue both comprehensive solutions, along the lines of carbon mining, and economic efficiency through pussyfooting.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
But with the political process strangled by special interests and their denial approach, that assessment won't be made on anything like an honest basis.
the strangulation is the fault of both sides. The left make climate part of a progressive package that raises the hackles of the right, while the right seem incapable of articulating ways to decouple climate solutions from the progressive paradigm.
Hackles are quite beside the point. The right is incapable of honest engagement with the issues because their responsible members systematically get primaried by billionaire in blinders.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Keeping lights on, houses warm and cars running is a good social purpose served by fossil fuels. We are a long way from renewable energy delivering these mass market public goods at reliable scale.
Non carbon energy is already quite capable of delivering. And they are not public goods, that is, they do not have a free-rider problem leading to market failure.
Robert Tulip wrote:
To treat emission reduction as an end in itself is a recipe for climate catastrophe.
It's not an end in itself. It has always and only ever been seen as a means to less carbon in the atmosphere, for the purpose of climate stability.



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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Harry Marks wrote:
there is at least theory suggesting that the problem of appropriate pricing can be solved in a central planning context.
Harry, before responding on your latest comments, I want to complete my response on these earlier remarks. I can see the anger that you have about Trump, and you have my strong sympathy, since I recognise the affront that Trump presents to the dominant visions of a rational society. I agree with you that there are major dangers from the corruption of American plutocracy. However, the problem of what to do about it is by no means as clear as your apparent view that mobilising the popular front to impeach Trump and install a liberal President in 2020 is the best path.

The anger within Trump’s demographic base has genuine equal scale as the anger among liberals. The failure of communication between the polarised groups resulting from a path of mutual demonization will in my view only entrench the conflict and lead gradually towards military dictatorship. I want to explore possible ways to avoid that. What you might think of as sympathy for the devil may actually have moral coherence.

You would of course be aware that central planning is anathema to the ideals expressed by Trump in his vision of stopping the American Carnage. There is very good reason why Hayek rejected central planning, that he saw the moral and economic collapse it caused for the Soviet bloc, and the sclerotic problems of debt and government intrusion it has caused in the West.

Even if some theory, such as emission reduction, could produce a model to solve pricing problems through central planning, that will remain unacceptable to the anti communist instincts of American capitalism, and will only be a recipe for ongoing deadlock on climate policy. I am asking if there could be solutions to climate problems that will be acceptable to the moral values of Republican traditions.
Harry Marks wrote:
I have not yet seen, from you or Hayek or anyone else, a reason not to use carbon pricing or a resemblance to central planning in the other pricing programs which have been used to combat externalities. I am frankly baffled at the way you support correcting prices in one sentence and then, a few sentences later dismiss it as leftist governmentalism, apparently because you see it as undermining your own approach (when in fact it would only help your approach as I have pointed out).
This is about moral principles in economics and politics. The key principle of liberty enunciated by Hayek is that a strong and prosperous nation rests on a thriving democratic civil society and private sector where people pull their own weight. The insidious force working against this vision of capitalist freedom is the cancer of government, the displacement of private enterprise by a leading role for the state.

Your comment that carbon pricing would help my goal of carbon mining may be true in the short term. The longer term problem is the danger of accepting that methods to stabilise the climate must be led by governments. I just do not think that governments are competent to be given the level of involvement inherent in the carbon pricing central planning model. A basic principle that I think is needed is to severely restrict and curtail the scope of state activity, even if that may remove some opportunities for rent seeking.

My belief is that carbon mining using large scale ocean based algae production can be a major new profitable private enterprise. Governments have an essential regulatory role in many aspects of such an endeavour, but I am of the view that putting a price on carbon oversteps that regulatory job, and would undermine the ability to achieve the goal of rapid sustainable scale up of private industry.

I reject some basic shibboleths of the climate lobby, including decarbonisation of the economy and emission reduction. These are an order of magnitude too small to affect climate stability, rest on major contested assumptions about the role of the state, cause needless economic damage, generate political conflict with key players and just get in the way of achieving a realistic path towards climate stability.
Harry Marks wrote:
Recognizing the full cost of carbon emissions does not make energy more expensive, it merely recognizes the true cost by charging it to the buyers and sellers who are in a position to do something about limiting that cost.
You are confusing medium term theory with short term impact. In the short term, placing a price on carbon means that power bills will rise, as people are asked to pay for the externality of global warming.

Many advocates of climate action think that overall reduction of energy use is an end in itself, so observing that they want higher energy prices is hardly lunatic. That plan to make electricity and gasoline more expensive in the short term engenders natural questioning and mistrust from those who cannot see the logical connection to a safer and more secure world, and don’t want to pay for a pipedream.

Any proposed major structural political change, such as carbon pricing, has basic strategic and tactical problems to solve. The concerted opposition seen already would only intensify if carbon pricing was rammed through against widespread community opposition. The practical result would be minimal slowdown or small reduction in the growth of emissions. And that means a hotter world and acidic oceans.
Harry Marks wrote:
Some private industry would find things more difficult, others would find it easier.
Replacing the current opportunities for rent seeking from implicit subsidies for fossil fuels by new opportunities for rent from the largesse of a carbon tax would not deliver actual climate benefit, and not only because of the incompetent track record of governments in implementing such large scale programs.

Our current phase of debate in this thread was prompted by me quoting Lomborg, who has recently drawn attention to a typical carbon scam http://www.lomborg.com/news/the-flawed- ... gy-swindle in European subsidies for burning wood, just the sort of lunacy that government carbon policies can promote if badly designed.
Harry Marks wrote:
Government would have a larger role, but in preventing the crime of imposing our garbage on everyone else, government pursues a legitimate and constructive role which adds to society's well-being.
Sorry Harry, such ‘good ends justify bad means’ thinking has a very bad track record and is not to be trusted. Any policy that causes a bigger role for governments is corrosive for civil society and private sector development, which together have far bigger potential effectiveness than government leadership.
Harry Marks wrote:
And quite obviously, carbon taxes do not make the world hotter or the oceans more acidic.
Not in their objectives, only in their probable results. Advocacy of carbon taxes risks sucking up such a lot of political and investor oxygen in a wild goose chase that there will be no space for alternative policies such as carbon mining.
Harry Marks wrote:
I am afraid you will have trouble convincing me that society is more conflictive just because those able to inflict harm on others are restricted from doing so freely. And poor? No. Better off, unquestionably.
I am asking people to step back from the rhetorical dream of the supposedly elegant economic models of carbon taxation and consider the political reality of a corrupt and stupid world. The hypothetical benefits of carbon taxes must be weighed against their real direct impost on actual economic activity.

Making transport and power more costly in the short term is a hit on growth and wealth creation. Carbon taxes would hinder economic activity in the name of a state led process of creative destruction whose actual impact on economic incentives would be too small to deliver climate stability.

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott rightly said that carbon taxes are socialism masquerading as environmentalism. The sneaky real objective of our former socialist government who brought in Australia’s now cancelled carbon tax was to use it just as a method for wealth redistribution to buy votes. Its supposed climate benefits were a Big Lie, given Australia’s ongoing leading role as a coal and gas exporter.

Now onto your latest comments.
Harry Marks wrote:
A good lawsuit, with discovery process to unearth old emails, would put on display to everyone, as happened with the tobacco industry, the callous greed and fraudulent manipulation which has been the guiding principle of the fossil fuel industry on the climate question.
Unfortunately, I have to agree that your analysis here is correct. The fossil fuel industry is deeply corrupt. I read the book The Prize by Daniel Yergin a few years ago, a history of the American oil industry focussing on Standard Oil. The bad habits of buccaneering then in evidence are part of the industry DNA. But what that illustrates to me is that the industry is incapable of assessing its own strategic interests. Like Kodak they want to live in the past and prevent innovation through new technology to meet new realities.

My view is that by embracing carbon mining as a R&D goal, the carbon energy industry could transform itself from climate destroyer to climate saviour. By developing methods to collect and transform CO2 from large scale point sources such as High Efficiency Low Emission coal fired power stations, the energy industry can mobilise its resources, skills and contacts to close the carbon loop, using the CO2 they emit as the feedstock for a new world economy, using large scale ocean based algae for industrial transformation of CO2 pollution into valuable hydrocarbons.
Harry Marks wrote:
I applaud your determination and creativity in attempting to generate alternative facts. Perhaps when Kellyanne Conway gets tired of her determination and creativity in spinning for Trump, a job will await you.
Ha ha Harry, very funny. You are calling my argument that the fossil fuel industry could be redeemed fake news. That obviously suits the climate lobby campaign to increase government intrusion in society and dependence of everyone on big brother, but I am simply pointing out that the needed industrial removal of carbon from the air can only be done in alliance with the people who put the carbon there in the first place.
Harry Marks wrote:
What changed was the apparent success of the Koch Brothers and their Tea Party in scaring centrist Republicans using attack ads in the primaries.
That is true, but climate denial is a Big Lie with moral odium worse than Hitler’s Big Lie of the final solution. The prospect of American capitalism falling in a screaming heap as a result of this Big Lie requires a dramatic about face by the fossil fuel industry. You may say that is impossible, but I say the prospect of them making a very large amount of money from carbon mining should focus their thick skulls.
Harry Marks wrote:
That has nothing to do with thinking the matter through, but rather has to do with the legacy of the Nixon/Reagan era efforts by the Republicans to capture the (very substantial) ignorance vote and the subsequent evolution, with Rush Limbaugh leading, of self-confirming paranoid alternative versions of reality. Such as, I am sad to say, your own.
You badly misunderstand what I am saying if you accuse me of pandering to ignorance. That is completely untrue. I am pandering to the self interest of industrialists, to recognise that finding profitable ways to remove more carbon from the air than we add is the only way the fossil fuel industry will save their bacon.

The equally “self-confirming paranoid alternative version of reality” in this debate, compared to the delusional Rush, is the false idea that emission reduction can help to stabilise the climate. As Lomborg says, all the Paris climate promises together would only reduce temperature rise in 2100 by just 0.05°C from the do nothing scenario of a 4.5° rise (Press release). http://www.lomborg.com/press-release-re ... e-promises From 4.5 to 4.45 increase. I have seen no answer to that critique except fallacious deflection.
Harry Marks wrote:
Old ways are not entitled to control the market and exclude new ways, just because their employees are afraid.
Again Harry, you have badly misread my comments here if you think I suggest old ways should control the market. All I am saying is that the only practical way to deliver climate stability is carbon mining by the fossil fuel industry. That is not at all excluding wind and solar, it is just observing they do nothing to remove carbon from the air, which is what we need to do.
Harry Marks wrote:
a neutral stance simply says, "pay up for the damage you are causing, and then whoever appeals more successfully to consumers wins."
That Versailles Reparation approach is not a neutral stance, it is an ideological plan to shut down the fossil fuel industry and accidentally wreck the world economy, with prospects similar to the last Versailles agreement, where shutting down the German economy enabled the rise of Hitler. Consumers will rebel against any governments who are stupid enough to mount such a frontal assault on American capitalism under the sneaky guise of neutrality.
Harry Marks wrote:
if we don't do anything about the carbon buildup in the atmosphere the polar icecaps are going to melt, the sea levels are going to rise, and incalculable irreversible damage is going to be done to biodiversity and other aspects of the planet's natural services to us.
Yes, we agree on that. We have the bullet loaded for all those catastrophes and don’t know when the trigger will be pulled.
Harry Marks wrote:
Carbon reduction and emissions reduction both contribute, and both are favored by a carbon tax.
No, no, no. We add ten cubic kilometres (km3) of carbon to the air every year. Emission reduction, the basket holding all the Paris eggs, means we keep adding 9.5 cubic kilometres, or at best, 8 km3 of carbon each year, delaying dangerous warming by maybe 20% at best, or as Lomborg crunched the numbers, more likely about 1%, effectively nothing.

Carbon reduction, what I call carbon mining, holds the potential to remove a net 10 km3 of carbon from the air every year while still emitting the same amount. The impact on climate stability of these rival scenarios are totally opposite. Emission reduction is pointless and worse, diverting focus from the main global security threat of climate change.
Harry Marks wrote:

A broad scientific consensus, defended repeatedly in open debate and challenged without success by fine minds, has established the facts. If there were some distortions and alarmism along the way, those were not a significant part of the process and were well balanced by the intentionally conservative estimates used in policy fora.
Your comment here involves the classic fallacy of deflection, arguing that because climate science is settled (the broad scientific consensus), therefore consensus political strategies to respond to climate change are equally settled. They are not. There is broad expert recognition that emission reduction cannot deliver climate stability.

The IPCC has demonised the entire agenda of carbon dioxide removal for deflecting focus from its holy grail of emission reduction. Yes there has been open debate about climate science, but that same level of openness is largely absent from debate on climate response. The lame and tendentious outcomes of Paris with its sole focus on emission reduction rely entirely on the bureauspeak of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. INDCs should more accurately be known as spin and lies.
Harry Marks wrote:
it is beyond me why you are willing to play the role of apologist for that crowd.
I don’t. I am just looking for allies able to develop carbon mining. I think the fossil fuel industry are best placed to do that.
Harry Marks wrote:
your rhetorical attempt to hold the climate hostage to get support for your proposal being backed is not only ineffective but cowardly.
Aw Harry shucks, lucky I have a thick skin. The bitter irony here is that in fact the IPCC is holding a metaphorical gun to the head of the planet, saying reduce emissions or else Gaia gets it. Given that emission reduction is pointless and politically impossible, other options are needed if we wish to avoid an earth-shattering kaboom.
Harry Marks wrote:
Robert Tulip wrote:
emission reduction by itself can do nothing to reverse climate change.
Your broken record repetitiveness is tiresome. I expect that is your purpose in behaving that way.
Now you are winding me up. Lomborg’s 0.05° calculation of the effect on warmth of all the Paris commitments compared to business as usual proves very clearly that emission reduction by itself can do nothing to reverse climate change. All these vaunted consensus Parisiens you respect so highly have done nothing to refute Lomborg’s simple calculation. Their emission reduction arguments stand bereft. When the King is pretending to wear a glorious suit but is naked, the moral course is to keep telling him until he takes notice.
Harry Marks wrote:
A carbon tax would simply make sure that the externalities costs are placed in the balance against the costs to consumers, just as we balance in ordinary resource costs. Nobody cries for economic damage done by exhaustion of low-cost carbon sources, or, in the furniture industry, by increasing scarcity of beautiful hardwoods. Facts are to be recognized - that's all that needs to be said.
Among the facts which I think need to be recognised are that emission reduction faces an unwinnable political battle and would barely even slow global warming anyway.
Harry Marks wrote:
there is no reason we can't pursue both comprehensive solutions, along the lines of carbon mining, and economic efficiency through pussyfooting.
Just a small economic reason called ‘crowding out’. Rises in public sector spending can drive down or even eliminate private sector spending. In the climate space, advocates of emission reduction crowd out carbon mining by observing that carbon mining enables emissions to continue and then falsely asserting that emissions are intrinsically bad, which is as sensible as saying that defecating is bad. Pollution is only bad when no one cleans it up.
Harry Marks wrote:
Emission reduction is not an end in itself. It has always and only ever been seen as a means to less carbon in the atmosphere, for the purpose of climate stability.

Would that were true! Unfortunately the remorseless logic of mathematics says otherwise. Adding increases, and subtraction decreases. Emission reduction means we add less than we did before, but it is still adding, not subtracting. A massive paradigm shift in thinking is needed if we are to get serious on a global scale about actually subtracting carbon from the air to step back from the brink of major instability.


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Post Re: Carbon Mining
Here are my latest thoughts on this topic.

Deep Ocean Water for Carbon Removal

Proposals to raise deep ocean water (DOW) to the surface as a climate mitigation technology have been criticised for producing warming. These problems may not arise if DOW is used for algae production with full recycling of nutrients.

Atmospheric consequences of disruption of the ocean thermocline, (Kwiatkowski et al 2015 Environ. Res. Lett. 10 034016) found that artificial vertical mixing of ocean water for local cooling, such as in the proposed ‘Lovelock Pipes’, would actually produce wider warming, reversing the intended benefit. Any proposed applications of large scale ocean pumping to mitigate climate change would need to address the problems modelled by this and related studies.

In considering use of ocean pumping for large scale algae production, recycling of deep ocean nutrients may be a key method to address such problems. A recent scientific paper, Phosphorus and nitrogen recycle following algal bio-crude production via continuous hydrothermal liquefaction, ( Edmundson, S., Algal Research (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.algal.2017.07.016), explains how hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) to produce algae biocrude can separate and recycle the phosphorus and nitrogen in algae for ongoing reuse as fertilizer.

This finding could enable ocean based algae production to mitigate climate change by recycling oceanic phosphorus and nitrogen in combination with carbon dioxide mined from the air. Subject to modelling assessment, my hypothesis is that the climate benefit of efficient removal of carbon from the air in this way would outweigh any warming effects.

If nitrogen and phosphorus from deep ocean water are used to fertilize a contained algae pond at sea, and the algae is then converted to biocrude by HTL, then the finding that phosphorus and nitrogen in the algae can be separated from the biocrude enables continuous reuse of these nutrients. This changes the parameters for analysis of deep ocean water climate impact. Recycling of oceanic nutrients in algae farms presents a possible path to enable efficient mining of carbon from the air at scale.

If nutrients can be used in combination with atmospheric CO2 for ongoing repeat fertilization of the algae farm, this HTL nutrient separation process means DOW could potentially provide the nutrients required to grow algae on the scale needed to reverse global warming.

For algae factories at sea using HTL and recycling nutrients, my calculations of orders of magnitude are as follows.
· Ocean water below the thermocline has 3 micromoles of phosphate per litre, equal to 90 tonnes of phosphorus per cubic kilometre (per Sverdrup).
· The scale of carbon removal to reverse climate change requires removal of more than the ten gigatons of carbon in CO2 added to the air every year.
· To push back from the brink of possible climate tipping points, a reasonable goal is to remove twenty gigatons (petagrams) of carbon from the air every year (one gigaton of water has volume one cubic kilometre).
· Converting twenty gigatons of carbon from CO2 to hydrocarbons and other products for storage in stable useful form (plastic, soil, bricks, roads, etc) would require 172 million tonnes of phosphorus and 2.6 billion tonnes of nitrogen to grow algae at the Redfield Ratio (C:N:P=117:14:1).
· With complete retention of mined phosphorus and nitrogen via HTL, about two million cubic kilometres of water would need to be processed to obtain that amount of nutrient.

The attached diagram of a tidal pump may be one way to shift this volume of water. For the entire annual goal of 20gt of carbon, my estimate is that pumping arrays of 500,000 km2 located on continental shelves with twice daily tidal range 0.5 metres would take ten years to pump two million km3 of water to the surface, in order to mine the required amount of phosphorus and nitrogen from deep ocean water.

These nutrients would then be available for permanent recycling. This process would also deliver other useful dissolved minerals, and would continue indefinitely, enabling economic use of the vast dissolved mineral wealth of the seas. That scale of pumping operation is about 2% of the world continental shelf area as an eventual goal, and would depend on the availability of suitable locations, which in turn would depend on demonstrated environmental benefit. The algae farm area would be about six million km2, or 2% of the world ocean surface.

The use of hydrothermal liquefaction at such a scale would require innovative technology. HTL requires pressure equal to water pressure at two kilometres deep in the ocean, and temperature above 300°C, to make the algae cell wall break down to produce biocrude. The best way to subject algae slurry to such heat and pressure may be to pump it down to the deep ocean floor, and develop controlled automated sea floor systems for processing, as per the attached sketch. The feasibility of that method has not been assessed.

In summary, the demonstration that ‘Lovelock Pipes’ would have unforeseen warming effects does not mean raising DOW is unfeasible as a climate change response, and the ability to use HTL to recycle oceanic nutrients means that large scale ocean based algae production could be an effective method for carbon mining to deliver climate stability.

Robert Tulip


Attachments:
Ocean Floor HTL Sketch.png
Ocean Floor HTL Sketch.png [ 131.14 KiB | Viewed 57 times ]
Tidal Pump Balloon and Sand Diagram.png
Tidal Pump Balloon and Sand Diagram.png [ 138.02 KiB | Viewed 57 times ]


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