Saturday, January 19, 2013

You read it here first (or before these other guys, anyway)

(A little update:  a cooking fire from our Vietnam trip.  Time for biochar instead.)

One.  Eli says in 2009 that the developing world's role in climate mitigation should focus on reducing their emissions of black carbon by 90% or more in a decade, and now we learn that black carbon could be the #2 bad guy in the climate biz, displacing poor methane.  For my part, this is one of the few climate issues where I'm pretty optimistic.  Assuming the peak energy arguments are wrong, then economic development means wood burning cookfires and the like are gradually going to be less prevalent.

Another.  I argued last November that Obama should go big on immigration reform, getting immigrants who've been here for a long time on a reasonable path not just to legalization but to citizenship, and that seems to be what he intends.  Personally I doubt even the less-xenophobic faction of the Republican leadership will really go along with a real path to citizenship, despite the extremely vague statements of some.  To the extent they're obstructive, they'll pay the political price, but to the extent we get new voting citizens, it'll take a while before the Republicans live down their past practices.  Gun control is a good example that extends beyond immigration - the new groups are very supportive, especially Latinos.

A third.  At the same post above in November I did my own little calculation to determine there was only a 52% chance that all five conservative Supreme Court justices would defer escape to the Choir Invisible in the next four years, and last week Slate's slightly fancier look found a 54% chance that none would be no more in four.

Good enough for now.  I could add that Libya is looking good while Syria isn't, but maybe another time.


Russell Seitz said...

Proceed with care, Eli--black carbon is protean in its effects, which depend mightily on its vertical distribution and its lifetime which depends on surface as well as atmospheric chemistry- it is cautionary that it first gained the limelight as a source of catastrophic cooling.

EliRabett said...

The health and efficiency benefits alone are worth the effort. Recently saw an interesting comment that burying wood rather than burning, limiting CO2 AND BC, would be worthwhile.

Hank Roberts said...

"Doherty and her colleagues found that some sources of soot — including coal and diesel fuel — produce a lot of warming with very little compensating cooling.
They suggest that these sources should be the top priority... Diesel fuel looks to be an especially ripe target. “That message is loud and clear,” says Ramanathan." (from Eli's second link above)

Russell Seitz said...

The local effects speak for rthemselves - the problem is translating them into realistc model parametrizations

raypierre said...

Even leaving aside uncertainty about the net climate effect of black carbon mitigation (e.g. cooling effect of organic aerosols vs. warming effect of absorbing aerosols over high albedo surfaces), controlling black carbon, or any other short lived forcing agent, should not be viewed in any way as substituting for CO2 reduction. You can defer controls on black carbon for decades and still get the climate benefit once you implement them, but CO2 is forever, so action on CO2 is not deferrable. If black carbon reductions are justified on health grounds, do it for that reason, but don't pretend that doing it now is an important contribution so solving our climate problems.

There is some case to be made for counting black carbon reduction as a climate contribution for regions (notably Africa) which have low contribution to CO2 emissions, but emphatically NOT for India and China.

Hank Roberts said...

> black carbon reduction

Diesel and coal can be burned "more efficiently" -- that turns more short-acting black carbon into long-acting carbon dioxide.

Wrong result.

EliRabett said...

Nope you are producing more CO2 because you don't get much energy out of the BC and you thus have to burn more fuel so you get equal or more CO2 per unit energy. Much of the BS also goes to CO2 eventually in anycase.

The argument that stopping BC will prevent action on CO2 is perhaps correct, but OTOH, local action on CO2 could lead to more willingness to tackle CO2

raypierre said...

Eli sez: "... is perhaps correct, but OTOH, local action on CO2 could lead to more willingness to tackle CO2.?"

I think Eli meant "local action on BC could lead to more willingness to tackle CO2."

That's an argument that's often made, but is actually pretty untenable, especially if an emissions control or trading protocols were phrased in terms of climate-equivalent CO2. In that case, if controlling BC turned out to be "free" because the health benefits paid for the cost of emission reduction, an entity would do the "free" thing first, and might never get around do doing CO2. WRONG ANSWER! Even if the protocol were designed more intelligently, there's the risk that the entity would figure that by doing BC abatement, it's "done its bit" for climate, thus lessening the perception of moral obligation (what a quaint concept -- does that exist anywhere anymore?) to reduce CO2 emissions. Also WRONG ANSWER. Rather like the guy who puts out his recycling, then, figuring he's "done his bit" for the environment goes driving off to Whole Foods in his Hummer. Don't laugh, I've seen it happen.

Brian said...

Producing biochar for heat/cooking and then burying it for CO2 sequestration and increased ag productivity might be the sweet spot: less BC plus net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Anonymous said...

"Devilishly Good"
-- by Horatio Algeranon

Simple can be good
But then, it can be bad
The Devil's in the details
When Heaven's to be had