Back in 2019 NASA wrote an article, talking about planting trees as a way of doing part of the work for mitigating climate change. By looking at satellite images they looked at areas that were recently deforested, or areas which would be easily turned into forests. They came up with an incredible number of 900 million hectares (2.2 billion square acres). If all these areas were reforested with the right trees for each area. Apart from suddenly increasing the worlds forests, and giving breathing space for many species on the verge of extinction, the calculations suggest that these lands would take around half a trillion trees – it would increase forest cover by 25%.
Calculations suggest that the carbon that would be emitted would account for around 200 gigatons of carbon, or reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere by around 25%. Now alarmingly, this is only around 20 years of current emissions, so it is not the only thing that we would have to do.
Even planting half a trillion trees is not an end of climate change – this is how much emissions we have emitted – but it would be a fantastic start.
This 1.5 degree Celsius target has been talked about as increasingly impossible to meet. However, this target is essential – many of the worlds low level islands long-term survival leans on this.
Here, an expert is suggesting that we might survive. This is some positive belief that we have been in short supply of, in the last few years.
“Despite the scale of the challenges, I feel more optimistic than i felt two years ago” he added “Solar photovoltaic installations and electric vehicle sales are perfectly in line with what we said that they should be, to be on track to reach net zero by 2050, and thus stay within 1.5C. Clean energy investiment in the last two years have seen a staggering 40% increase”.
We are by not yet there, it is very much the case that we need to keep working hard.
The targets that he set, include a tripling of clean energy by 2030 and a 75% reduction in methane emissions by the same date, and a desire to see these targets come out of the COP28.
It was only 3 years ago that the government said from 2030 there would be no more combustion engine, yet his most recent decision rolls this back (though it should be noted that he is still aiming for 80% electric car sales by 2030) along with reducing the requirements landlords to insulate their homes so it is cheaper for their renters to heat their home.
While an increasingly large number of people are switching to electric cars, there is a growing concern that this change is not happening fast enough.
Currently the EU sells 10 times more electric cars than just 6 years ago, which is impressive, so what is the concern.
For many people, they believe that their next car will be electric, but a large portion of people are awaiting a big crash in prices. This forgets two things, firstly that with electric cars, much more of the cost comes at the beginning, so it may well be that electric cars are always slightly more expensive. One of the things being learnt is that it is not enough to incentivise electric cars, you also have to disincentivise combustion engine cars.
There are places where this is working well, such as central London, which has a congestion charge, but this is not charged on electric cars. It is true that this is going to end soon, but still should give a reduction for those driving electric cars. However, it means that in places like South Kensington, the number of electric cars is shooting up.
There are a variety of help across Europe, with Romania offering over 11,000 to help, or France having a scheme for poorer households to allow them to rent an electric car for only 100 euros a month.
The dramatic rise in electricity prices since the start of the invasion in Ukraine has also not helped, as if there is not cheap electricity at night, the saving are far lower than they used to be. Will Europe hit its targets? I think there is still work to be done, but it is certainly moving rapidly in the right direction. I look forwards to every motorway stop being like the all electric gridserve (look at the fullycharged episode below).
These two trucks look very similar but one will cost you far more than the other.
Below I am including a table (compiled by nextbigfuture), It compares the efficiency of all electric semi lorries that are currently hitting the market. Unfortunately any significant look at the table below can only lead to one conclusion – Tesla is currently way ahead of anyone ehlse
Currently, the majority of aircraft use their main engine while moving around on the ground. This can account for as much as 5% of the fuel that they use in their journey.
By running the taxiing on electricity, whether from batteries or a generator, either reduces the fuel burned by as much as 90% or more. This means that there is a saving of around 5% of fuel per flight.
With major airlines, the fuel used on a flight accounts for around 22% of the cost of the flight, which means that this 5% saving of fuel cuts overall costs by around 1%. In the cut-throat world of airlines, a 1% advantage over another airline can quickly become a significant issue. Put differently, it is thought, that each aircraft with an EGTS system installed will save around $250,000 a year. As such even an incredibly expensive EGTS system would quickly pay itself back and then some. It will also make airports far less noisy for much of the time.
Milk is an important part of the diet of many people in the west, alongside other dairy products. It has, in recent years been one of the problems: while many people have cut down on eating beef, far fewer has cut down on dairy – but now, if you do not eat beef, you can stop supporting dairy farmers all together.
This is not to say that dairy farmers are bad. Governments need to create different careers and paths for these people to take out of their current work.
Arguments against electric cars continue, from suggestions that the range they have is not high enough, the batteries do not last long enough, they are worse for the environment, they will break down too much or there isn’t enough choice as well as many more.
Climate change deniers are those people who, no matter what the evidence there is, deny that the world is warming. These people are frankly idiotic, with the childish equivalent is 2 toddlers arguing over the colour of a building brick. Scientists all agree that the world is, on average, getting warmer – it is, your opinion is not relevant. Increasingly, this is belatedly understood. Now it is only extreme groups (like Prageru) can possibly continue to deny the fact that the world is warming. There are likely to remain fools who continue to deny that the world is warming – in the same way there are people who believe that the world is flat. We need to act now, we cant wait for 500 years more, for denialists to believe it.
There are a great number of different sectors which need to be tackled if we are to move towards net zero as a world. One of the hardest is the ships that transverse the world oceans, allowing the global economy to run. Is this finally an area which cuts will be possible?
Many sectors of the global economy have been fully sorted – or at least solutions exist which will take carbon to zero over time – I will include a quick overview below, but for the rest of the article look below the bullet points:
Power- it is (in most of the world) cheaper to scrap a standing coal powerplant and replace it with brand new solar and wind, than to continue to use the coal. While replacing coal with gas does lead to a reduction in emissions, it is not enough, and this too is more expensive to run long-term. Letting go of gas will be harder, as it will require very large batteries to replace gas as the base load – but economics as well as global warming are rapidly changing this too.
Agriculture- many of our current methods for agriculture have high emissions, however through a variety of methods, it is predicted that this sector can rapidly move to net zero. From additives in cattle diet (made from seaweed) which vastly reduce methane production) to less fertilizers, and spreading various rocks on the land which will lock carbon into the soil (good for climate change and the farmers yields), as well as electrical equipment, solutions exist, we simply need to use them (they are too expensive currently for parts of the world, but prices are coming down.
There are other areas, like fugitive emissions, which need to be dealt with, and industries like cement (currently emitting aound 3%) where new ways of making it can vastly drop its emissions. Also around 2% currently comes from deforestation – this needs to stop and be reversed by trillions of trees being planted worldwide (this must use local trees, both to avoid unintended side effects, and to make sure new forests support local fauna)
Transportation accounts for much of the rest, at roughly 30% of human emissions, and 72% of this (around 21% of human emissions) is road transportation. Now, while much infrastructure is needed for electric vehicles to work, electric cars lorries and buses are all incredibly successful. The industry is in its relative infancy compared to combustion engine vehicles, but its incredible simplicity, as well as its instant savings mean that in almost all the world they would already give savings over the lifetime of the vehicle.
Much of what is left is the last 9% or so which is used in transportation. Air transport accounts for around 3% currently, but is a hard place to decarbonize as it is such an energy intensive process, though many companies have passenger jets for journeys are to 500 miles coming in the next decade.
This leaves sea transportation. Much of the worlds freight goes by sea. It is far cheaper (in most instances) to make lots of a product in one location in the world and then ship it to where it is needed. Currently this is highly polluting, but progress is being made here too.
COSCO electric container ship is one of the first to hit the market. Powered by 2 900kw propulsion motors, it reduces carbon emissions by 32 tonnes every 24 hours. Powered by a battery unit (housed in 20-foot containers) which has a capacity of 50mwh or 50000kwh). These containers are easily swappable, which means in places like a river where swapping them out is relatively easy, they are ready to replace all other freight and given the huge savings are likely to relatively quickly.
These ships will be able to run on full power for around 24 hours. Given that container ships tend to travel at around 20 knots (37km per hour or 22 miles per hour) this is a rang of around 500 miles. If the swapping of this battery can be done quickly, the travel along the coast should be able to able to continue relatively quick, particularly if these battery swapping stations can be stationed as near the shipping route as possible.
Now this container ship takes around 700 containers, which suggests to me, that you could put in say 10 container batteries, barely reduce the capacity and allow this same ship to cross the Atlantic and more. Now 700 containers is a small container ships with some carrying 7 times as many. A 5000 container ship takes 1.5 -2 million gallons of oil, 1 gallon weighs about 3.3kg, so we are talking 5000 tonnes at the lower end, that means that even on our smaller shop we are talking 500 tonnes of oil, 10 batteries has to compare favourably.
If well made and competition arrives soon, it is likely that these ships will arrive surprisingly fast, as the advantage to companies using them will give them to great an advantage over competition, requiring extremely rapid adoption.