Carbon Dioxide Tipping Point

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Environmental warriors took me to task 10 years ago when I started this website.

The reason?

I made a heinous comment that “in spite of increased renewable energy capacity in the world, fossil fuel use will continue unabated and will actually increase over the next 40 years”. The first ten years indicate this view point to be correct, take a look here:-

World Energy Consumption

So why is this?

  • The population of the world keeps going up, more countries are industrialising and the lowest cost source of energy is fossil based.
  • The rate of installed renewable energy capacity is lower than the increasing demand for energy.

I am writing this article with climate scientists observing that in September of this year 2016 we have reached the Carbon Dioxide tipping point of 400 ppm in the atmosphere where climate change effects become apparently "irreversible".

Too often the CO2 problem is one dimensionally defined as "we must stop burning fossil fuels", well we should but we won't, so first off:-

What really is the problem?

Simply put the levels of CO2 are too high, absorbing too much sunlight, warming the planet.

So what is the solution?

Remember we have established that no matter how much we bang on about the use of fossil fuels, their use will continue until we fry, or think differently. No matter how much the worlds various green parties rant about the use of fossil fuels simple economics and the immediate needs of people will always force the use of low cost energy. This will continue until it runs out. When it does run out I hope there will be a viable alternative like nuclear fusion.

Don’t misunderstand me by the way, we need renewable energy solutions as part of the mix, but in my view we are at least decades away from supplying the energy requirements of the increasing world population with renewable energy. So in the meantime we need a stopgap solution.

Come on then so what is the stopgap solution?

Reduce the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere of course.


  • Abate CO2 from source, all power generation should remove CO2 from their effluent gasses.
  • Develop technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Both are expensive, but the cost of doing nothing will be much higher. In 2007 Richard Branson from Virgin launched the Virgin Earth Challenge with the aim of removing CO2 from the atmosphere, take a look at their website and some of the technologies being suggested and indeed used.

Another solution

There is another stopgap solution but even more so than CO2 removal, it is a treatment of symptoms rather than a solution, it is to effectively reduce the sunlight getting through the atmosphere and interacting with greenhouse gases. This naturally happens when a large volcano erupts spewing sulphur (US sulfur) dioxide into the upper atmosphere. There are numerous ideas just do a quick google!

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