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View Diary: GETTING TO ZERO: Is renewable energy economically viable? (313 comments)

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  •  I'm not convinced that we need ZERO fossil fuel (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayBat, lehman scott, badger, raoul78

    emissions, as I suspect that a certain, vastly lower than is the case at present amount can be sustained, regardless of whether it'll be necessary or wise. Nor do I believe that we will ever be able to truly get down to zero, especially in the near to mid-term. But, obviously, we have to reduce it drastically over the next 10-20 years, if not sooner, to the point where it is fairly close to zero.

    I'm wondering, since fossil fuels represent a certain fraction of the solar energy that fell on the earth over its history and was captured by plants, massively condensed for our "convenience", is there any way to calculate the average "ratio" of fossil fuel energy output as its burned today, vs. the amount of time it took to capture that energy millions of years ago? I.e. for every hour's worth of gas I burn in my car (plus the fossil fuel energy used to extract, refine, transport, pump, manage, etc., that fuel), how many hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc. did it take for the pre-fossilized plants that originally collected that energy, to do so?

    I suspect that to the extent that there is a point at which burning fossil fuels could be sustainable, it would have to be where the average energy derived from the burning of all fossil fuels on earth for a given period of time roughly equals the amount of energy that falls on the earth and is captured by plants during a similar period of time. But even then, this "future" fossil fuel won't be available for eons. So, really, in human terms, no amount is sustainable.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:44:42 AM PDT

    •  Nearly. (9+ / 0-)

      We need to get to a point at which the residual CO2 we emit is capable of being absorbed by natural (and man-made) sinks, so that atmospheric CO2 no longer rises.

      It's hard to say exactly where that point lies, but based on what was happening at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, I'm going to speculate that we'd need to eliminate well over 95% of our current fossil fuel use to reach that point.

      We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

      by Keith Pickering on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 09:53:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  there's a strong case to be made (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Keith Pickering, raoul78, deep info

        that we need, at least in the near term, not zero fossil fuel but negative fossil fuel . . . that is to say that to avoid catastrophic climate change in the near term we must remove from the atmosphere and sequester some significant part of the past century's CO2 emissions.  And such sequestration will require carbon-free energy production substantially in excess of current needs.

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 02:14:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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