Man-made climate change has been caused by burning life – both contemporary & fossilised.
Burning living biomass is a more potent climate changer than burning fossil biomass. It releases the same CO.2, but also reduces both the photosynthetic mass of life and the mass of life which is returned to soil. In consequence the mass of life is reduced season by season. Carbon is increased in the atmosphere and diminished in soil.
Burning fossil biomass releases the same CO.2, but the mass of life continues to live and breathe.
I propose that the rapidity of climate change has been unexpected, because “non-land-use-change” biomass burning (forest and biomass crops from existing agricultures) has been calculated by the IPCC, Zero Carbon Britain 2030 and so on as “carbon zero”.
Similarly (though far less significantly) the value given to carbon sequestered outside life-cycles – in “embedded structures”, “carbon sumps” and so on, is false. If we remove biomass from its cycles, then we diminish both its photosynthetic power and the re-growth of biomass in subsequent seasons. Such “sequestration” increases atmospheric CO.2 (and diminishes Oxygen) by diminishing the active mass of life.
Increasing the speed of the flow of life increases its mass until an optimum mass is achieved. Slowing that flow diminishes its mass. Velocity is missing from carbon calculations.
Fermentation is an essential part of life cycles. Cycle too fast & an excess of fermented gas is released to the atmosphere. Cycle too slow and terrestrial biomass is reduced. Biomass is mineralised (& vaporised) by soil life – creating the simple minerals necessary for plant growth.
So there is both an optimum mass and an optimum speed in life cycles. Achieving that optimum speed/mass is of course, the first principle of agricultural husbandry. Bearing in mind both resource depletion and climate change, economists and politicians should adopt it as the first principle of economies. It has long been a first principle of agricultural husbandry. It is called the rule of return.
We have been deluded in our carbon calculations by a false understanding of “carbon cycles”. Carbon cannot cycle. It is inanimate – life cycles. The two terms are not interchangeable. It is a physicist’s delusion – matter & energy always remain in either form and so our deluded physicist’s assumption is that life (she thinks carbon) always remains as either matter or energy.
But life can diminish to nothing, or increase to an optimum speed/mass. Once upon a time, there was no life on Earth and it shall be so again. What was life can re-appear as its original components of lifeless matter and energy. The IPCC physicist has confused lifelessness with death. Death is regenerative. Lifelessness is not.
Below is the hypothesis give to me by Peter Harper of CAT which has been assumed as a consensus by most and remains unchallenged. It is a ridiculous hypothesis, but perfectly demonstrates the physicist’s (or the chemist’s) delusion. Any practical allotment-holder could easily refute it. If she took a harvest and returned nothing to the soil to replace it, then her following year’s harvest would be much smaller, and the biomass of her soil would be depleted.
The hypothesis clearly demonstrates why IPCC climate change calculations have been dangerously optimistic. It is why Zero Carbon Britain 2030 proposes that Britain can maintain air traffic at a third of existing capacity by using non-land-use-change biofuels.
“If biomass is burned, the chemistry is more or less reversed, and the original energy and raw material (CO.2 and water) are released. There is then no net gain or loss of CO.2, which is why biological fuels are considered to be “Carbon neutral”.
Because living biomass cannot replace fossil biomass, we must settle our economies within the reduced means, which remain to drive them. Anaerobic digestion is a case aside – I think we can use such gas, because we gather it from the natural process of breaking down biomass. We change the more dangerous methane into less dangerous CO.2 – while also returning “digested biomass” to the soil.
Our new social; political; personal aim must be to settle economies within their ecologies so that both find optimum symbioses. I think that could also form part of a new technological, spiritual, moral and political understanding.
It is not possible to supply the ways we Europeans have been living with renewable energy alone – & renewable soil; renewable water… so we must change the ways we have been living to fit within those limits, since of course, we must live by renewable energy alone.
The idea of using fossil energy and biomass energy more efficiently to maintain our “modern achievements” is a delusion which will very soon bring havoc to what we know as modern culture. Even if we leave climate change aside, the ways in which Europeans and Americans have been living are set to bring wide-spread economic collapse. We have been consuming what should have remained for the future and also the near future, and so when we reach that near future our economies will collapse.
It is imperative that we shift our thinking from devising renewable energy systems to power current ways of life – towards changing our ways of life to fit renewable energy systems.
We can also shift our thinking from the stifling anxiety of merely paring down consumption, towards the brave new liberty of a changed moral and technological culture. It will become essential to consider social justice, social roles, commons, value, tools and techniques – bringing of course, new spiritual and artistic responses to those changes. Resource depletion and climate change can be catalysts for the good life – for renaissance.
We should remember that money flow is directly related to energy flow. Even the idle casino of land monopoly accumulates the value which energy supplies by both human labour and a variety of energy sources. It has been variously said that just a litre of oil replaces the labour of a man working full-time for between two to three weeks. So, for a few decades we (or some of us) have been living like demigods – powered by millions of summers-worth of accumulated photo-synthesis.
The certain truth that we must now return to our ordinary and far from god-like human natures should bring an ordinary sigh of relief. Extreme consumption has not brought happiness. Just about every philosopher from every culture and from every period has told us so.
Anyway, as we leave fossil fuels in the ground we must simultaneously reduce our money flow to match that seriously-reduced energy-flow. No power on Earth can replace that of fossil fuels – which is why we’ve lived as demigods and must now return to living like people.
I think that we can supply our domestic electricity needs easily and simply by wind, solar, and hydro power – and also by the remaining nuclear capacity as we run it down. We can build inexpensive housing, which has almost no heating requirement, but of course existing housing (the bulk of it) will need a new method of heating. Electricity provides the answer. Can we produce enough? – We have no choice, but to produce enough. For instance, if we take the £94 billion set aside for the Trident and High Speed Rail programmes, we could buy every household in the UK 2kw generating capacity of solar panels at the current retail price! – Given that level of spending it would probably buy 3 – 4kw at wholesale price. Spent sensibly, on a mix of hydro, wind and solar to match circumstances, Trident and High Speed Rail moneys would go a long way to completely solving domestic renewable energy needs.
Those figures are peanuts relative to the £375 billion spent into utterly futile “quantative easing”of which only 13% ended in productive business – the remainder paid debts and bought property. Then we have the equally futile £17 billion for the Heathrow runway extension…
Green deals would create both new assets and worthwhile employment.
The elephant in the room is the way we live and work – principally the ways we travel for both work and pleasure.
Flying without fossil fuels is impossible. Fortunately, it is also unnecessary.
Centralised distribution and retail chains are impossible without fossil fuels. Fortunately, they are also unnecessary.
Many “green” proposals (such as Zero Carbon Britain 2030) suggest reduced air capacity fuelled by “non-land-use-change” bio-fuels. They are fantasies.
17th Century Britain faced economic collapse, because she had felled the last of her trees for fuel, house & ship-building (mostly fuel). The pillage of empire had not yet begun. Commons (and their human ingenuities) had long been enclosed for the mere money of sheep fleeces, villages lay deserted and dispossessed commoners migrated to city slums. The landscape would have been an open wilderness of mostly grass – interspersed with cropping.
Despicable and foolish behaviour of the powerful is not new. We can see a 17th Century echo in today’s New Labour and Conservative politicians and money-men, who seem equally intent on getting rich by destroying the source of riches – labour, resources and the commons of nature.
Fortunately for 17th Century rogues, coal came to the rescue and created the industrial revolution. Unfortunately for today’s rogues the industrial revolution has ended and there is nothing to replace coal, oil, gas and timber, but labour, soil, water and the commons of nature.