Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Visualizing Last Year's Emissions of Carbon Dioxide

I was working on something today and came up with the following:

So, in 2011 the world's humans emitted 31.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels (and probably another 5 Gt or so from land use changes, but I'll ignore that for now).

That's 8.6 billion metric tons of carbon, and it were all in the form of diamond, it would be a cube 1.4 km on a side.

That diamond would weigh over 40,000 trillion carats -- it would take 330 million years to mine that amount, at current mining rates.

It would be worth about $3,000,000 trillion dollars, or over 42,000 times the GDP of the entire world.

It would be a sizeable mountain: as a pyramid whose base is a square, with each side equal to its height, it would be 1,900 meters tall (6,400 ft).

It would be the 1,459 times the size of one of the largest of the World Trade Centers. With the same base area of one of the towers, it would reach 378 miles high, or almost twice as high as the International Space Station.

If it were a rod that reached to the moon, it would have a diameter of over 9 feet.

In other words, it's a lot of CO2! (But if it were all at the surface of the Earth, at sea-level temperature and pressure, it would be a layer only 3.3 cm thick.)

Note: Corrections cheerfully accepted.

Added: Lest these numbers seem too surprising, remember that the Earth's atmosphere weighs about 5 million gigatons (to first-order it's simply PsAs/gs, where Ps is the surface atmospheric pressure, As the area of the Earth's surface, and gs the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface). And 2,000 Gt of that is CO2 (if the CO2 level is 395 ppm).

48 comments:

simpleclimate said...

A guy I know does this is the kind of thing for a living - recently interviewed in Nature Climate Change - see http://www.carbonvisuals.com/

charlesH said...

Well we need a lot more co2 we are well below optimum for plant life.

David Appell said...

Plants are suffering for lack of CO2???

charlesH said...

Plants are suffering for lack of CO2???

Plants grow much better with higher co2 levels. Commercial greenhouses raise co2 to 1000ppm or more.

We are currently just barely above the minimum required for plant growth (150-200ppm).

David Appell said...

Charles, with all due respect, your comment is ridiculous. Plants overall are doing fabulous -- the amount of plant life on the planet is increasing because of our CO2 emissions. More plants are being born than are dying.

And even pre-industrial levels were far above 150-200 ppm.

But, there is evidence that warming is already decreasing certain crop yields:

“Global scale climate–crop yield relationships and the impacts of recent warming,” David B Lobell and Christopher B Field, Environ. Res. Lett. 2 (2007) 014002 (7pp)

http://www.mendeley.com/research/global-scale-climate-crop-yield-relationships-and-the-impacts-of-recent-warming/

charlesH said...

David,

Yes,

"Plants overall are doing fabulous -- the amount of plant life on the planet is increasing because of our CO2 emissions. More plants are being born than are dying."

Yes, and it will get even better as co2 continues to increase.

"But, there is evidence that warming is already decreasing certain crop yields:"

Warming not co2. Try to stay on topic. Climate sensitivity is another topic. Warming will produce winners and losers. Canada and Siberia will certainly benefit.

By the way, increased co2 increases plant tolerance to heat, drought, etc. Just like when you go to the hospital and they give you oxygen to help the body fight what else ails you.

Dano said...

David, charles' assertion is so clownish that there are even points assigned to it:

2) 2 points– Assuring us that more CO2 means more plants which is a good thing

You know anyone who trots that out (or any of the other standard talking points at the link) simply isn't credible.

Best,

D

Dano said...

By the way, increased co2 increases plant tolerance to heat, drought, etc

If you were aware of the FACE experiments, over a decade ago they found this talking point to be erroneous.

It is still erroneous.

Best,

D

David Appell said...

Charles, CO2 and warming go hand-in-hand. You can't have one without the other.

Canada and Siberia might win (in some ways -- being near the Arctic, they will lose in others). The tropical belt, where many plants are already at their limits of heat tolerance, could lose more than the winners win.

Plus, CO2 can decrease the nutritional value of some plants. (Probably more important to nonhuman species (hence to biodiversity) than to us.)

Plant response to ACO2 and AGW is a very complicated function of ACO2, that scientists are working hard to understand, and almost all blog-thoughts I see on the subject are extremely simplistic -- as, here, are yours.

charlesH said...

David,

It is really not so hard.

Increased co2 is clearly good for plant life.

Warming from co2 depends on the sensitivity, a number at the heart of the AGW vs CAGW debate.

AGW/CAGW theory predicts greater warming at the higher latitude than the equator. Thus the equator, already hot and humid, warms little, while Canada and Siberia (cold and dry) warm much more.

Warming at the poles produces ice melt. Thus rising seas. How much depends on the climate sensitivity.

Thus increasing co2:

a) good for plant life
b) net good for growing season
c) bad for sea level rise

climate sensitivity drives b and c.

low sensitivity = all is very good

moderate sensitivity = ok (b and c balance each other)

high sensitivity = bad

Dano said...

Thus increasing co2:

a) good for plant life
b) net good for growing season
c) bad for sea level rise


bullpucky. You obvioulsy don't know what you are talking about.

Clearly.

Best,

D

David Appell said...

Charles, for the last time: a statement like "co2 is clearly good for plant life" is far, far too simplistic. Plants are doing fine and aren't suffering from a lack of CO2. (Warming, though, is another matter.) But increased CO2 has potential (and probable) dire consequences far beyond the plant world.

This is quite a comical argument.

charlesH said...

David,

Let me try again.

a) Assuming constant temperature, plants grow better with higher co2 concentrations. 350ppm is better than 250 and 1000 is better than 350.

Agree?

b) If climate sensitivity is low/zero/negative then increasing co2 is good for plant life.

Agree?

c) AGW theory predicts that poles warm much faster than the tropics. How much depends on the climate sensitivity.

Agree?

David Appell said...

Charles:

Your comment (a) is absolute horseshit. You can't separate CO2 and warming.

David Appell said...

And, again, the warming THAT HAS ALREADY OCCURRED is reducing crop yields.

Whatever climate sensitivity is, it is larger than the warming that has already occurred.

Hence your comment (b) is also horseshit.

I won't waste my time on (c).

charlesH said...

Dano,

Sorry, I don't mean to ignore you. What do you think about this article?

"Voters realize that the benefits of renewable energy aren’t worth the costs."

"It was interesting while it lasted. But it looks as if the “green revolution” has entered the long slide into “What was all that about?”

In January, the Spanish government ended absurdly lavish subsidies for its renewable-energy industry, and the renewable-energy industry all but imploded."

The reason the Spanish example is so important is that it demonstrates how the whole green-energy “revolution” was really an ideologically driven green boondoggle from the start.

At the beginning of his administration, President Obama insisted that if we didn’t follow their lead, we would surrender the hugely profitable renewable-energy sector to those sagacious Spaniards. In 2009, researchers at King Juan Carlos University found that Spain had destroyed 2.2 jobs in other industries for every green job it had created. The researchers also calculated that the Spanish government had spent more than half a million euros for each green job created since 2000, and wind-industry jobs cost more than 1 million euros apiece."

Read the whole article and let me know what you think.

\

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/301479/all-green-thumbs-jonah-goldberg

David Appell said...

I think that if fossil fuels were properly charged for the great damage they do -- which exceeds their value -- instead of that cost being socialized as it is now -- renewables would be look very cheap. Which they are in reality.

charlesH said...

"I think that if fossil fuels were properly charged for the great damage they do -- which exceeds their value -- instead of that cost being socialized as it is now -- renewables would be look very cheap. Which they are in reality."

Nobody believes that but you for coal let alone nat gas, especially if you take out the co2 component assuming sensitivity is low. Thus expensive "green" energy is dead for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, if you want to push "green" nuclear (aka LFTR) you may find a more receptive electorate. This is where James Hansen is smarter than most "greens".

charlesH said...

Dano,

Here is another one for your reading pleasure.


THE GREEN ENERGY BUBBLE IS BURSTING FAST EVERYWHERE

"So the tech bubble burst a decade ago, and the housing bubble five years ago. The higher education bubble is swelling to the bursting point, but it is the green energy bubble that is bursting loudest at the moment, and as usual environmentalists are slow to see that they’re about to get run over by a revival of the hydrocarbon economy. Those old dinosaurs may have been big lumbering animals, but the nimble fossil fuels they threw off are crushing the so-called green “fuels of the future” beloved of fruit-juice drinkers and vegans everywhere."

Read the whole thing. Great news for the economy.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/05/the-green-energy-bubble-is-bursting-fast-everywhere.php

Dano said...

I do enjoy how the denialists can't show how CO2 is manna from HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!!! by linking to a journal, science site linking to a journal, or a botanist talking about their work.

Nope. Denialists must link to...snork...PowerLine...mmmmfff...ahem...PowerLine for evidence. snork

PowerLine.

Now THAT is a hoot.

It's like Internet Performance Art.

Best,

D

charlesH said...

Dano,

Google the phrase "shooting the messenger".

David Appell said...

Nobody believes that, Charles? How about one of the most eminent environmental economists in the world (often a favorite of skeptics in other contexts)?

Muller, Nicholas Z., Robert Mendelsohn, and William Nordhaus. 2011. "Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy." American Economic Review, 101(5): 1649–75.

http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.5.1649

David Appell said...

>> especially if you take out the co2 component assuming sensitivity is low. <<

How exactly do you "take out" the CO2 component of a fossil fuel?

And what does "low" mean? The warming that has already gives an estimate for the lower-bound of climate sensitivity of S ~ 3.8 deg F.

http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2012/03/better-way-to-calculate-climate.html

charlesH said...

The study you reference relies heavily on co2 with high climate sensitivity.

Climate sensitivity may be near zero your claim otherwise not withstanding.

David Appell said...

It's completely obviously climate sensitivity is not "near zero." Stop wasting our time.

And the Muller et al paper's main focus is air pollution, not climate change.

They only calculate climate costs for the electric power sector, and they don't assume any climate sensitivity -- they assume a social cost for carbon of $27/tC (2000 dollars), which is not much different than Australian's A$23/tC.

charlesH said...

"It's completely obviously climate sensitivity is not "near zero." Stop wasting our time."

Climate sensitivity is the core of the dispute between scientists (skeptics and warmers). If you think the answer is obvious you should get out more.

A few more for Dano.

Bjorn Lomborg on the Rio Green Summit: Poverty Pollutes

"We hear plenty of hype about climate-change “solutions” like solar panels and biofuels, but these green technologies are not yet the answer. As long as wind turbines and solar panels remain more expensive than fossil fuels while working only intermittently, they will never contribute much to our energy supply. Germany, the world’s largest per capita consumer of solar energy, produces just 0.3 percent of its energy this way. And to achieve this No. 1 status, the country has paid $130 billion for $12 billion worth of energy. The net reduction in CO2 emissions will slow the pace of global warming just 23 hours by the end of the century."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/05/27/bjorn-lomborg-on-the-rio-green-summit-poverty-pollutes.html

More global warming bad news, well, that is depending on how you view the issue of global warming

"If it’s not the global warming schemers deserting the cause, and global warming profiteers going belly up, and real life contradicting the premise, it’s another bulletin of bad news. Where will it all end for the global warming worshippers?
Here’s the latest, which just happens to devastate another assumption of the warming theorists (emphasis ours):
“A paper published today in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics finds that clouds located in the stratosphere over the poles act to cool the stratosphere by adiabatic cooling, which is the cooling of air parcels as they rise and expand, rather than by ‘trapping heat’ below the clouds resulting in ‘radiative cooling’ of the stratosphere above. This finding contradicts a tenet of AGW theory, which predicts that infrared radiation from greenhouse gases will ‘trap heat’ to create a ‘hot spot’ in the troposphere and cooling of the stratosphere. This study finds that cooling of the stratosphere is instead due to rising air parcels rather than a decrease in radiation due to heat ‘trapped by greenhouse gases’.”"

"Of course, more and more folks are coming around, recognizing this obsession is counterproductive and a more productive path would be to help poor people become better off, not deny them cheap electricity."
http://orangepunch.ocregister.com/2012/06/01/more-global-warming-bad-news-well-that-is-depending-on-how-you-view-the-issue-of-global-warming/70173/

charlesH said...

Dano,

I invite you again to read the entire Lomborg (warmer) article.

What are your priorities?

sample:

"But perhaps more important, what really matters to most people is not global warming and other problems on the Rio+20 agenda. There is a deep and disturbing disconnect between the mighty who walk the plush carpets in the U.N. arena and what the majority of the world’s inhabitants need.

The truth is that while we mull green initiatives, approximately 900 million people remain malnourished, 1 billion lack clean drinking water, 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation, and 1.6 billion are living without electricity. Every year roughly 15 million deaths—a quarter of the world’s total—are caused by diseases that are easily and cheaply curable."

"What are the three most important environmental issues in developing nations? Most people in rich countries get the answer wrong, even with repeated tries. Global warming is not among them—not even if we look at all the deaths caused by flooding, droughts, heat waves, and storms. Since the early part of the 20th century, death rates from these causes have dropped 97 percent or more. Today, about 0.06 percent of all deaths in the developing world are the result of such extreme weather.

Instead, one of the biggest environmental killers in the developing world is a problem unfamiliar to most people in rich countries: indoor air pollution. We take for granted our access to heat, light, and convenience at the flick of a switch. But 3 billion people in developing nations have no choice but to use fuels like cardboard or dung to cook their food and try to warm their homes. The annual death toll from breathing the smoke of these fires is at least 1.4 million—probably closer to 2 million—and most victims are women and children. When you fuel your cooking fires with crop residues and wood, your indoor air quality can be 10 times worse than the air outside, even in the most polluted Third World cities. Not that you’re safe when you leave the house: outdoor air pollution is estimated to kill another 1 million people a year in the developing nations. Almost 7 percent of all deaths in the developing world come from air pollution. The figure is more than 100 times the toll from floods, droughts, heat waves, and storms.

The second problem is the lack of clean drinking water and sanitation. About 7 percent of all deaths in the developing world are associated with a lack of clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. That’s almost 3 million deaths each year.

The third big environmental problem—and yes, it is an environmental one—is poverty. To the more than 1 billion people subsisting on less than $1.25 a day, worrying about environmental issues is a distant luxury. If your family is freezing, you will cut down the last tree for fuel; if they are starving, you will strip the land bare to feed them. And if you have no certainty about the future, you will provide for it in the only way possible: by having more children to care for you in your old age, regardless of how much they will add to humanity’s demands on the planet.

Poverty means entire disadvantaged communities have less to eat, get less education, and are more exposed to infectious disease. Allowing them to get richer enables them to satisfy their families’ immediate needs like food, clean water, and education. And then they can afford to start caring about the environment. Recent history suggests that when living standards go up, people and societies reduce their pollution, stop cutting down forests, and stop dying from dirty air and bad water."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/05/27/bjorn-lomborg-on-the-rio-green-summit-poverty-pollutes.html

David Appell said...

Yes, it is completely, totally, blindingly obvious that climate sensitivity is not "near zero."

I've never seen any science showing it is less than (say) 1 C.

Have you? If so, then present it.

David Appell said...

Charles: Why do you continue to ignore negative externalities (such as your quote of Lomborg)?

Do you think they don't exist?

Do you think your neighbor should be able to dump his trash on your front yard for free?

charlesH said...

1 is certainly nearer to 0 than 3.8 (and you suggest 3.8 is the lower bound?).

so yes, 1 is near 0 compared to 4-5.

I don't ignore negative externalities. I understand well the "tragedy of the commons". coal has negative externalities but I don't think co2 is a significant one.

However, one has to balance competing goods and prioritize how resources are to be spent. Chasing co2 is certainly not something I think we should be spending a lot of resources on (e.g. Lomberg's point). Burning coal to provide electricity for the poor is probably better than the poor burning dung in their huts.

David Appell said...

Charles: Who says S=1 deg C?

The data suggests S is at least 3.8 F, not me. What part of that estimate do you fault with?

David Appell said...

Charles: The Muller et al AER paper is mostly about ordinary pollution, not CO2.

Their conclusion is that "coal-fired power plants have air pollution damages larger than their value."

What part of their analysis do you disagree with?

David Appell said...

Charles: Yes, the poor need cheap energy.

But the affluent -- which includes you, me, and most Americans -- can afford to pay for the damages from the production of the energy they use.

So why shouldn't they?

charlesH said...

"But the affluent -- which includes you, me, and most Americans -- can afford to pay for the damages from the production of the energy they use."

The damages that most people can agree on are paid for. The difficulty is that for the damages that you imagine (co2 in particular) there is a lot of disagreement.

Coal plants are much cleaner now than they used to be. Same goes for cars. Water is much cleaner in the US than it used to be. Much progress has been made.

In some cases, the EPA seems to be going beyond what is justified on a cost benefit analysis. Take mercury for example. Do you think there should be tighter regulations on power plant mercury emissions?

Dano said...

Charles, you can't flap your hands and make your ludicrous CO2 assertions go away. You can try, but it ain't workin'.

Best,

D

charlesH said...

David,

"As a result, the climate sensitivity for a doubling of
CO2 is estimated to be 0.7K (with the confidence interval 0.5K -
1.3K at 99% levels)."

http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/236-Lindzen-Choi-2011.pdf

David Appell said...

Charles, again: the Muller et al AER paper finds coal-based power generation creates more damage than value based based on traditional air pollution, even before CO2 is considered. Their data is for the year 2002. They didn't consider water pollution.

Again: what in their analysis do you find fault with?

Have you even read the paper?

David Appell said...

Charles: Are you aware of the history of the Lindzen & Choi papers?

charlesH said...

"Charles: Are you aware of the history of the Lindzen & Choi papers?"

I think so. A first paper was published, weaknesses pointed out, weaknesses address in a subsequent paper with the same conclusion. Some still disagree.

Yes, the climate sensitivity remains at the core of scientific skeptic vs warmer debate.

charlesH said...

"Have you even read the paper?"

I admit I started to until I saw they were including co2 high climate sensitivity scenarios and I decided whats the use.

I'll look at it again since you say they break out non co2 pollution.

charlesH said...

Dano,

"Charles, you can't flap your hands and make your ludicrous CO2 assertions go away. You can try, but it ain't workin'. "

Well it seems I've convinced Europe, China, USA, ...... to put the wind/solar boondoggle on the back burner. Pretty proud of myself, thank you very much.

I've also convinced China to prioritize nuclear over wind/solar and invest in LFTR. Man I'm good!

How is it going there in Boulder? Are you guys on 100% wind/solar yet? How about your house? Are you still on the grid? Do you still own a gasoline fueled car?

Here across the Rockies in Orem Utah I'm still watching solar prices (my neighbors won't allow a wind turbine). I'm also hoping to see an electric "city car" to be my next auto purchase. I like this one.

http://www.gordonmurraydesign.com/press-T27-performance.php

I'm hoping someone puts it into production and makes it available in the US.

Cheers!

David Appell said...

Charles: On which page of the Muller paper do they assume a value for climate sensitivity? (Or, as you write, several of them: "high climate sensitivity scenarios"?)

charlesH said...

Charles: On which page of the Muller paper do they assume a value for climate sensitivity? (Or, as you write, several of them: "high climate sensitivity scenarios"?)

Keep in mind that to me anything over 1 is high. Give me a few days to read the paper and try and understand it.

David Appell said...

Charles: So you rejected the paper's conclusions without really reading it. Nice.

Anyway, please comment again after you've read it.

Remember: Muller et al find that coal-produced power creates more damage than value based only on air pollution -- that is, *before* considering CO2, water pollution, etc.

charlesH said...

"Anyway, please comment again after you've read it."

Ok, after the first quick read a few comments/questions.

1) I will consider only non-co2 pollution.

2) I thing this is just the kind of analysis that needs to be done to drive environmental regulation.

3) "For example, with a VSL of $6 million
(USEPA 1999) and a discount rate of 3 percent, for an average 35-year-old male
worker, R is approximately $265,000 ($/life-year)."

This is the value used for a life-year on the damages side. On the benefits side simple economics values are used. I think this methodology strongly biases the study. A person certainly doesn't contribute a net economic value to the economy of $265k per year. A more reasonable value production minus comsumption. Certainly far less than $50,000/yr.

Seems to me a better way to look at it would be to ask what money would be saved by reduced pollution. If I cut sulfur by 50% what would it cost compared to what would be the expected change in healthcare costs (e.g. medicaid, medicare etc). This avoids discussion of life value altogether.

charlesH said...

So looking at table 2

GED/VA GED
Sewage treatment facilities
4.69 2.1
Coal-fired electric power generation 2.20 53.4

So if one adjusts the numbers to take out the subjective life value assumption ($50k vs $265k).

Sewage 4.69/5 = 1
Coal PP 2.20/5 = .44
Nat Gas PP ???/5 = ?.?? (Probably pretty good)

What on earth emits from sewage plants that is so bad.

charlesH said...

Whats the GED/VA for nuclear? Must be too low to be of any interest?

charlesH said...

I concede nat gas and nuclear is a much better power source than coal, unless the non-co2 pollutants in the study can be removed cheaply.