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Some Facts And Figures

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Some numbers and more of that thermodynamics I wish everyone would learn.

1. Yes, it will require additional energy to capture carbon dioxide, whether at the source or from the atmosphere. That energy, in order to keep the carbon balance negative, would have to come from wind or solar or nuclear – sources that don’t produce more carbon dioxide than is taken up by the capture technologies. The energy balance is not the determinative factor here; fixing the atmosphere is.

2. Biomass is nice, and I love a good forest or bog, but the balance (as many commenters noted) is tricky and not well understood. Compost spread on fields will release some carbon dioxide. Forest fires undo whatever carbon capture was done by the trees and other biological mechanisms in a forest, and we can expect more forest fires with global warming. I couldn’t easily find numbers, but my sense is that forests and bogs are not going to be up to the challenge. We should do what we can with biosequestration, but it won’t be enough.

3. In case you haven’t noticed, we are seeing serious effects from global warming NOW. We need to start doing everything we can. Yes, the very best would be to downsize or electrify cars and trucks NOW, and build rapid transit everywhere. And we should start doing that. But given the politics of the last few years, it ain’t gonna happen soon. Thus carbon capture is also one of the things we should do. We have to do EVERYTHING, NOW! Arguing is fun, but removing carbon dioxide and its sources is better.

4. Even if we turned carbon dioxide to a net negative tomorrow, global warming effects will continue to get worse for a while. That is why we have to act NOW. The earth’s climate system moves slowly.

As promised, numbers and charts.

Percentage of different sources of energy used for fulfilling global energy demand.This is given in a pie chart in this article, which is under copyright to one of the giant scientific publishers, whose model for making money does not allow me to reproduce the pie chart here. The article also discusses biomass.

  • Oil   34%
  • Coal  28%
  • Natural gas  23%
  • Hydroelectricity  7%
  • Nuclear energy  4%
  • Renewables  4%

The EPA provides some usable pie charts

Global Emissions by Economic Sector

Source: IPCC (2014); based on global emissions from 2010. Details about the sources included in these estimates can be found in the Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Global Emissions by Gas

Source: IPCC (2014) Exit based on global emissions from 2010. Details about the sources included in these estimates can be found in the Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Global Emissions by Country

Source: Boden, T.A., Marland, G., and Andres, R.J. (2017). National CO2 Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Burning, Cement Manufacture, and Gas Flaring: 1751-2014, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, doi 10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2017.

Trends in Global Emissions

Amelioration Methods.This article estimates the contributions from various methods of carbon dioxide removal.

  • Bioenergy with carbon capture and reliable storage  12 Gegatons of carbon dioxide/year
  • Direct air capture with reliable storage  12 GT/year
  • Land management  6 GT/year
  • Mineral carbonization  5 GT/year

Pulling this up from the comments: Global CO2 emissions related to energy production in 2022 were around 36GT/year.

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