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Archive for June, 2009

The use of fossil fuels greatly adds co2 to the “bubble” and yes this can affect climate change. Your argument that the co2 released by your burning of natural gas is “reabsorbed into the environment” is only partially correct. Only a small portion of the gas is re-absorbed. The current plant population is only a fraction of what is was when the Oil coal and gas deposits were produced and are not laying down the deposits of that old era. Millions and millions of years ago (360 to 300 MYA in the Carboniferous period) the co2 in the atmosphere was about 800 ppm, compared to the current level of 387ppm. (march 2009) This high level of co2 allowed the great forests of the day to be prolific, (this also increased the oxygen levels to about 163% of today’s levels). The by-product of the great process of photosynthesis that has allowed us to exist. These great forest grew and died and built up huge stores of bio-mass, this bio-mass contains countless tons of carbon in the form of Hydrocarbons, as time progressed this was buried and sequestered away (coal, oil and natural gas deposits). Think of it as a battery that has stored the carbon, and the solar energy of the day. These great forests pulled the co2 out of the air and stored it away…bringing the co2 levels down to the levels we had prior to the recent climb in our industrialized world. The energy we derive from fossil fuel is actually stored solar energy that is 300 million years old…as we use fossil fuels this energy is put to work but also releases its carbon back into the air as co2. Since energy cannot be created or destroyed it is only “stored” in the chemical bonds of hydrocarbons buried deep in the oil and coal fields.

In times before industrialization we only used recent “solar energy” As a farmer plowed his field the horse or ox provided the energy, which was obtained by the hay and grain it ate…which was the solar energy stored last year as the hay and grain grew. This process repeated itself year after year using the solar energy from the previous year. He heated his home with a fire using wood…a renewable source. A constant, but sustainable rate of use and re-use. In more recent times the horse was replaced with a tractor which uses gas, the stored energy of 300 million years ago. World wide this use of fossil fuels from tractors, cars and power plants, is releasing carbon back into the air at a rate immensely greater than what can be reabsorbed. Remember it took 60 million years to store…can we continue to use these fuels at a rate that will last another 60 million years?

All the energy in every drop of oil or lump of coal has come from the sun, via the chemical process in plants. What we need is to harness the sun’s energy in real time, (in a geologic sense) store it for days or weeks to meet on needs…and allow the planet to recover its natural balance.

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