Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A blunder in Bill McKibben's "A World at War" in the New Republic

Bill McKibben's piece A World at War in the New Republic is a call to arms against climate change.  The stakes are indeed as high as he makes them out to be.

Alas, McKibben misstates what it will take to reduce CO2 from the atmosphere.  In fact, the situation is far more serious than he implies.

The following quote contains a blunder:
But would the Stanford plan be enough to slow global warming? Yes, says [Mark Z.] Jacobson: If we move quickly enough to meet the goal of 80 percent clean power by 2030, then the world’s carbon dioxide levels would fall below the relative safety of 350 parts per million by the end of the century.
This is a completely wrong.  It results from bathtub problem mistake.  Reducing the rate at which water flows into a bathtub does not lower the level of the water! CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by weathering of rock, and that process takes at least thousands of years. See this page for more.

We won't get even to 400 ppm unless we learn how to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.  That can be done, but it would take a huge amount of green energy.  Only governments could fund such a project. It's not going to happen with climate deniers in control.