28 Feb '12, 6pm

climate

climate

In their results, Myhrvold and Caldeira highlight a few poorly appreciated but crucial features of energy transitions. The first is that they take quite a while to have an appreciable effect on CO2 concentrations. The world’s oceans have considerable “thermal inertia” — it takes them a long time to absorb heat and a long time to release it. Even after CO2 concentrations start falling, it will take the oceans a while to stop releasing the excess heat they’ve already absorbed. Also, the building of a clean-energy infrastructure itself involves enormous expenditures of energy and thus CO2 emissions. For a given power source, the emissions released during its construction put it into “carbon debt” and it takes a while of generating carbon-free energy for it to work itself to the break-even point. Only then does it begin producing net reductions in CO2. Combine thermal inertia ...

Full article: http://grist.org/climate-change/climate-safety-requires-m...

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grist.org 29 Feb '12, 9pm

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